Phillip Dacey, New York Requiem

Phillip Dacey

My idea of a good death
is to fall under the wheels of
not the crosstown 79th Street bus
but the motorized wheelchair
of Itzhak Perlman,

who lives in my neighborhood,
whom I have seen countless times,
and who yesterday almost
ran into me as I made notes for a poem
while walking on Columbus Avenue,

where I would be happy to die
if I could do so under the weight and impact
of the violinist’s bulky vehicle,
my final encounter thus a musical one,
appropriate after so much of my time spent

attending recitals at Juilliard, which someday
he’ll be exiting, having just seen
a student of his perform, at the very
moment I trip–to all appearances
accidentally–in front of him as

he’s speeding up on the sidewalk,
so that I can be a martyr (O, Catholic
childhood’s dream of sainthood!)
to music, its ability to transport
the listener to a new place.

Author’s Comment: From 2004 to 2012, I lived out a post-retirement adventure by residing
on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was a glorious experience, especially when I discovered I was a short walk away from Juilliard, where for eight years I turned myself into a Juilliard junkie by attending student recitals often daily, sometimes more than once a day. Itzhak Perlman taught there, and some of the recitals I saw were performed by his students. The death I imagine is of course a comic one, but one I would seriously prefer to other kinds of deaths

3 thoughts on “Phillip Dacey, New York Requiem

  1. Of course? Who wouldn’t?–More seriously I am completely delighted by the loopiness of the opening here. Wonderfully done, and wonderfully developed throughout.

  2. Delightful poem. I’ve been to a concert Perlman gave from his motorized wheelchair — he was a bundle of purposefulness. You’ve caught that and made great use of it.

  3. My brother, a violinist, just heard Perlman in Atlanta – he would seriously agree with you! If Perlman were playing Mozart as he ran over me – I would agree with you.

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