To Remember Thomas DeLong, Who Wrote as Gwydion Pendderwen, On the Second (Now the Thirtieth) Anniversary Of His Going into Eternal Life

I remember the night I first met you

On Bernal Heights, before we knew

The Craft would cross our paths.

The strident horn of your flaming car

Drew me to the street: before

The doors of Hightower, where

Lord Randall ruled his mad

Court of science-fictioneers,

Van the Dagda read an Anglican wake

Over your still-smoking engine.

I remember you, and I begin to let you go.

 

 

I remember how you sang to me and Alta

When you first visited us in Oakland,

And how you gifted us at our wedding,

Singing us new a wedding song

Worthy, I think, of the kings

We thought we were perhaps descended from.

On the first anniversary of your death

I heard Sally Eaton sing of you

A wilder music than I knew she held.

As dragonflies draw flame your voice

Has drawn and draws forth song.

I remember you, and so I try to let you go.

 

 

I remember the nights I came to your circle

Or you to ours: cautiously we reached

Toward friendship, dialog, pursuit of the chimeras

Of  history. You praised me, friend, in print,

To our friends, and to our enemies,

Whether you agreed with me or not.

In Nemeton you and Alison published more of my poems

Than any other person ever has. We were

Initiates in the same tradition at the end,

And no conversion or dying or any other

Transformation changes that. It hurt, and still

It hurts, that you are gone.

I remember you, and so I slowly let you go.

 

 

I remember the nights when we drank together,

Drank and talked and talked and drank again:

The night I met Ed Fitch, the night we bombed

Hans Holzer, the Sabbats at Coeden Brith.

Especially I remember how on my last drunk

You gave me a clew that helped lead me

From the labyrinth: only a real Irishman,

You said, would carry the wine jug with us

From room to room as we rambled on

About things earthly, unearthly, and in between.

And you were with me that night,

In that car with no brakes in which I drove

Six people home, over the Bay Bridge,

Fading in and out of blackout.

I remember, vaguely — but I’ve let that go.

 

 

At thirty-six I got sober;

At thirty-six you died

Of drink and drugs and dying

As surely as if you had

OD’d. It is not

Fair, it is not

Just, it makes no

Sense: you weren’t that much

Crazier than me. I hoped

You’d get it too, and we’d be

Friends again, but that was not

Your path. Toward the end I heard

How rapidly you were dying,

How little song was left in you.

You did not die of poetry.

Now on each anniversary of my sobriety

I remember you, and more I let you go.

 

 

Strange that the night you died I dreamed

I met George Cockriell, who’d lived with me

On Bernal Heights, who died of World War Two

In 1971. Striding down the hill, as if

Off to something urgent, he stopped, surprised,

Saying, “I haven’t seen you recently,”

And questioned me about what I’d been doing.

And in the dream all our houses were one

Communal home on Bernal Heights, handbuilt,

Complex in its textures, vast within: perhaps

Our work on the Craft will have results we could

Not know. Yes, George could have been sent

To get you from that ditch: he’d known who you were

On Bernal Heights, had watched the Hightower crowd

With his black Irish sarcasm, and God knows in France

He’d walked through Hell already to rescue other men.

(“Why you?” ”They’ve got nobody else who knew you.

Come on, I’ll explain what I’ve found out so far.”)

So, yes, I can see George walking with you,

Quietly explaining the lay of the land,

Walking with you up the hills of Heaven that look

Much like Bernal Heights,

Much like all our hills writ large.

 

I can see you singing, with a real harp,

Of real gold, in a robe all of white

Except for the seven colors proper to a bard

Embroidered in its flashing: you are

Wreathed with mistletoe.

I see your eyes,

Clear and serene: in the distance you

Can see the accommodating gods and goddesses,

Who are both one and many. They sing to you,

Drawing you always further in

And further up. Now you go

Singing ever higher into the hills:

You are finally, utterly healed.

I remember you, and now:

I let you go.

 

  • Robert Mathiesen

    Oh! This is beyond poetry. This is compounded of ichor and ambrosia. It is the very best of all yours that I have read over the years. (I have just bought your collected poems, and we shall see whether you have surpassed it anywhere in that volume.)

  • Kate Gladstone

    Please tell us about the night you bombed Hans Holzer!

    • aidanakelly

      It’s in HCBW.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003137988874 Elani Temperance

    <3

  • http://twitter.com/ashareem HRM

    This has been one of my favourite pieces by you for years, since the first time I read it. thank you for sharing it here.

  • Anna Korn

    Gwydion did not die of “drink and drugs” as you say, and which I asked you to retract thirty years ago. THIS IS ENTIRELY YOUR OWN FIXATION. It is entirely untruthful. We Five Stewards wrote you this after Gwydion’s death, even citing his autopsy report, and it is really poisonous that you continue to circulate these lies.

    • aidanakelly

      Well, Anna, I drank with him. I know what his drinking was like. It makes no difference whether he’d been drinking that night. His lifestyle was that of an alcoholic, which is why I hoped he’d get sober. And why would you think I would have any interest in doing anything you asked me to do?


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