[This tile, # 66, represents a poem by Frank Judge at the Rochester Poets Walk on University Avenue.¹ Photo: David Kramer 1/21/17. See Emotions recollected in tranquility on University Ave]
Today, on Frank Judge’s facebook page, I read the sad news:
We are greatly saddened to announce that our dear friend Frank Judge passed away today. May he rest in peace.
Frank was a poet, publisher, translator, journalist, film critic, teacher, arts administrator and President of Rochester Poets and host of its monthly reading reading series. From 2004 to 2011, Frank was the Rochester area organizer for Poets Against the War & Occupation.
On January 21st, 2017, the day after former President Trump’s inauguration, we published Frank’s “45.” Today, we re-publish.
This is what we already call him,
unable to say anything more,
desperately wishing we could just
roll the number back or skip forward.
Or obliterate all trace of him
like buildings with no 13th floor.
45 become our new 13.
He’s the self-made man, made
from the few million dad
provided to get the kid on his feet.
And he made himself an icon,
a blowhard bully whose
brown hair now golden and
suspicious pre-cancerous tan
misdirected us from
the sadness and anger in America.
But he’d make the great country
great again, great as in the days
of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover
who knew all was right in the world
if the rich just got richer still.
Like a magician or master hypnotist
he made so many believe winds
of change were coming, that all
we needed was less government
protection, less taxes, less foreigners,
less health care, less money wasted
on allies, and all would be right again.
So, here he is, this drizzly January
Noon, hijacking a few ideas from
Jack Kennedy. And why not,
if it was good enough for Mrs. 45.
45 lets every nation know we’ll
pay no price, support any friend or
oppose any foe that might move us
from his vision of a shining city
on a hill more golden than his tower.
To all of us, to the world, he warns
not to ask what our country
will do. It will do nothing.
Once upon a time Dick Nixon
was elected with a secret plan
to end a war. That long war
ran on for seven more years. A
twinkling of an eye stacked
against a sixteen year war with
no land on the horizon. And
45 has a secret plan too.
And for four years, counting down
1,460 days, 35,040 hours,
we’ll keep wishing for the
missing 13th floor, a missing 45.
— Frank Judge, 1/21/17, Rochester, NY
The inscription on the brick, “Boots click,” is taken from Writing in the Dark
Writing in the Dark
It’s lights out, and the night
fills with the sound of metal
and cement. Boots click
in endless empty halls that
echo muffled voices and coughs.
I’ve made the sounds a mantra.
If I listen hard, time and walls
disappear, leaving me to
write in the dark,
where I trace my thoughts
down the page against
my finger like some
movie critic scribbling notes,
watching my life unfold
on a concrete screen.
I write small to save paper
and make the words easy
to hide when word
comes of a shakedown.
I don’t know if I’ll ever
touch trees or see
horizons again, but
my words will fly
out through the bar
to freedom and drift down
to haunt a world that
wants to forget places
like this and people like me.
Frank Judge, “Writing in the Dark,” in Approximations, CFK Press, 2005