from: HFD Memorial Page

Let me tell you about my pal Jay.


His birthday a week before mine

five years before we moved in

three doors down.Died seven days

after my fortieth, doing what he loved.


Jay was never still; Iíd escape

to his house, hoping to see an

entire Stooges movie, only to be

dragged into the yard, under

the Texas sun, high-stepping over

the piles left by his enormous, scary dog.

The summer Hey Jude came out heíd

stop mid-stride, hand out for silence,

each and every time it came on the

treehouse transistor radio.

Other than that, a blur of motion

with a silly crooked grin.


Jayís father was a fireman,

my dad a cop.We played GI Joe

and Tonka trucks in the sun-baked

dirt behind the air conditioner,

the only place that Rex didnít ďgoĒ.

I went through the litany

of future careers.Jay just grinned

his silly grin and made the hi/lo siren

noise, scrunching shut first one eye

and then the other.A fireman

was all he ever wanted to be.


The world was a different place back then.

For one thing, it was always summer. Nixon

was a funny name, Vietnam the word for

GI Joes on TV.Cops and firemen died,

but only one at a time and not too often.

Still, no paradise for billygoat boys

would be complete without a Mortal Enemy.

High overhead ours lurked, one generation

of yellowjackets laboring to raise the next

under the eaves, above the battlefield

behind the airconditioner.



No pretend combat, no miniature

modern earthmoving marvel could

contain Jay for long.Heíd look up

from the toys, a manic gleam in his

eyes and that preposterous grin

splitting his face.Donít do it, Jay!

Leave them alone and they

wonít bother us!Itís hard to imagine

a more complete waste of breath.


No peace process, no truce talks,

no detente between these ancient foes.

Armed with football or water hose,

he attacked without warning.Shit!

Goddamn!Crap crap crap crap

we fled the inevitable counterstrike,

a grinning Achilles and his cursing disciple,

high-stepping arm-waving billygoat boys

in the backyard of Eden.


One truck, three men

a Saturday morning highrise appartment fire

thirty-two days after the towers fell.

We should wait for another truck, Captain.

Itís the rules.I could have told them:

donít waste your breath.


Jayís death was public property,

a media circus, an ink blot.

A local one-month echo

of a flag-waving unthinking hero worship orgy.

Some see in it an object lesson on safety rules.

Mark Anthony of the firemanís union

came not to praise him.

Those for and against various budget lines

all saw Jay as a martyr for their various causes.


Iím sure there is some truth

in all of that, but it's not what I see.

I see my pal Jay, fire in his eyes and

a lopsided grin under his moustache,

running into battle against his ancient foe.

Donít do it, Jay!Oh hell.

Crap crap crap crap crap.