Gene Justice 

Although "Homage" is not written in any of the more traditional forms, it has a clear connection, in both form and content, to Allen Ginsberg's poem "To Aunt Rose".










Jacky—now—staring from photographs
gloom brow & half-shadow stony mouth set
                           against your sadness, arm cocked round the shoulder
                                         of your best lover gazing
              into a future you felt no love for, face in lines
                           not of defiance (though the myth
                                         would have it so),
                                                    but honest bewilderment
           & transitive saintly pride you taught me
                        the words to, & my faltering
                                      goop-eyed meltdowns with you
                        and everyone in the audience, ghosting
                                     the back table candlelight,
me dreaming Andy Kaufman wild bearded & hip deep
              in conversation
                            with the hand of Señor Wences,
                                         your sad chin balanced on upturned palm between

beery light around your shared table, 
           hair wreathed in divine smoke hating your sweat secretly
                      (somewhere you must have known angels intimately,
                                 found in what they lack a source of envy)
       —that year I read everything you wrote, in gulps
                       during lunch at the factory, munching apples,
                                    nights friends were out dancing & drunk,
                                              my dreaming head propped over a book
          & were you dead like old Bill told it, released from the spasm of all being,
                     or stuck somewhere in between again—
me ignorant envious through your words, mind gasping in wonder
           at the release of heavy drink & your blood-filled head.

           I'm sad & they won't let me be, say I've no reason to be,
                     your neon redbrick heaven I've never seen

they say I can’t miss what I’ve never been, and if I want to walk
                       like that--shoulder to shoulder with god like a brother,
          proud manic words pouring out of us like Charlie Parker sax solo,
                      pan-american road flights blossoming into
                                             an eternity of fast cars
          welcoming you like a father, in a rattling of worn-down adjectives
                     bumping into each other like boxcars shaking
                                 the blue vast Arizona desert sky—
                     if that’s what I want, then that’s just something
                                 I’ve read in a book, & never known.

They name streets and schools after you now, you’re respectable,
they keep the little books in print, three to a volume,
                        American kids that’ve never read you
            scribble your name in the back of textbooks
                        with peace signs & political slogans
                                    I don’t know if this makes you smile

last time I saw you was the picture
            chin resting on the back of the chair
                        your mother sat in, you visibly bloated
                                    looking older than she did
            they made you an angel long ago





Gene Justice is currently battling the effects of reverse culture shock after a seven and a half year expatriation that found him residing on three different continents. A carpenter's  apprentice by day and a struggling writer by night, he currently resides in Oklahoma. In the past, he has worked in a variety of capacities, including childcare worker, ESL teacher, and Creative Writing teacher at the community college level. His prose and poetry have appeared online in Muse Apprentice Guild, Lotus Blooms Journal, Writers Against War, poeticdiversity, and in print in In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself, Vol. 6 and Literary Angles: the second year of poeticdiversity.