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    By Frank Bidart

    the remnant of a vast, oceanic
    bruise (wound delivered early and long ago)

    was in you purity and
    sweetness self-gathered, CHOSEN


    When I tried to find words for the moral sense that unifies
    and sweetens the country voices in your collage The Friendly Way,

    you said It’s a code.

    You were a code
    I yearned to decipher.—

    In the end, the plague that full swift runs by
    took you, broke you;—

                                               in the end, could not
                                               take you, did not break you—

    you had somehow erased within you not only
    meanness, but anger, the desire to punish
    the universe for everything

    not achieved, not tasted, seen again, touched—;

    . . . the undecipherable
    code unbroken even as the soul

    learns once again the body it loves and hates is
    made of earth, and will betray it.


    Frank Bidart, "In Memory of Joe Brainard" from Desire. Copyright © 1997 by Frank Bidart. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.

    Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

    Source: Desire (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

    • Arts & Sciences
    • Living

    Poet Bio

    Frank Bidart
    Frank Bidart grew up in Bakersfield, California, and was, he claims, infected from earliest youth onward with the dream of making great movies. While the choice of expressive medium has changed over the years, the impulse toward a dramatic staging of material has not. Bidart lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and teaches at Wellesley College and Brandeis University.  See More By This Poet

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