Jason Floyd Williams
eulogy for the living.

We were driving to Tillamook,
a coastal city in Oregon.
To get there we had to drive
through the Neahkahnie Mountains–
A driver’s Ed test sponsored
by Nascar, a proto-type salamander
climbing the evolutionary ladder
out of the primordial, cafeteria slop,
onto solid ground, only to get
stuck immediately in a
Minotaur’s maze.

There was this continual swerving &
braking, pausing & pollywogging, around
Alfred Hitchcock, silhouetted curves, &
the whole time being tail-gated
by a few lonesome stragglers–
Usually red cars that had
important business meetings
at Grandma’s place.

Oregon’s lucky, they’ve got plenty
of their old growth woods left.
And before the trees got too thick,
spread their branches like
crossing guards, & forbid all
radio transmissions to enter,
we did get to hear one
last program on NPR.

It was about a poet
named Jack Gilbert.
He had just won some prestigious award
for one of his books.
He’s 82, & rents a small room
from one of his friends
in Massachusetts.
Jack read a couple poems, &
they were solid.
But what impressed me most, though,
was his philosophy on life–
He kept repeating this point,
like a Jelly Roll Morton song lyric,
like a local meteorologist reporting
an Ice Age front that
avoids his city:
“It’s a wonderful privilege just
to be here…Just to be allowed
to be alive…The sweetness of what
we’re allowed to experience…”

It is a privilege, a nice pension,
to be here on this
muddy, rubber-band ball
floating around
in space.
It is a blessing to be here,
even if it’s just for a blip
on eternity’s radar.

Now that I’m thinking
about it, I’m glad to have met
you all in this life,
for these moments–
Here & now in these mountains
the Nehalen tribe called
Neahkahnie, The Resting Place
of the Supreme Being.
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