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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lloyd Schwartz
Lloyd Schwartz
Lloyd Schwartz was born on November 29, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York....
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FURTHER READING
Poems About Friendship
After the Movie
by Marie Howe
Blue Is Beautiful Amy but the Story Is So the '90s
by Farrah Field
Book Loaned to Tom Andrews
by Bobby C. Rogers
Dear Friends
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
For N & K
by Gina Myers
Friend
by Jean Valentine
Friend,
by Jean Valentine
From the Lives of My Friends
by Michael Dickman
Given
by Joanna Klink
Heaven for Helen
by Mark Doty
Heaven for Stanley
by Mark Doty
How I Am
by Jason Shinder
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
Mending Wall
by Robert Frost
On Gifts For Grace
by Bernadette Mayer
On the Road to the Sea
by Charlotte Mew
sisters
by Lucille Clifton
Skunk Hour
by Robert Lowell
Song of Myself, X
by Walt Whitman
Stanzas in Meditation
by Gertrude Stein
Suddenly
by Sharon Olds
The Armadillo
by Elizabeth Bishop
The Soul unto itself (683)
by Emily Dickinson
This Lime Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
To a Friend who sent me some Roses
by John Keats
To Amy Lowell
by Eunice Tietjens
To Thomas Moore
by George Gordon Byron
Train-Mates
by Witter Bynner
Travelling
by William Wordsworth
We Have Been Friends Together
by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
You & I Belong in This Kitchen
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Your Catfish Friend
by Richard Brautigan
Poems about Loss
Affirmation
by Donald Hall
Ashes
by Paula Meehan
Burning the Old Year
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Catastrophe Theory III
by Mary Jo Bang
Challenger
by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Dove, Interrupted
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Etta's Elegy
by Maureen Seaton
from Projection
by Lidija Dimkovska
Haunted
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Headaches
by Marilyn Hacker
Heavy Summer Rain
by Jane Kenyon
I Found Her Out There
by Thomas Hardy
I'll Try to Tell You What I Know
by Martha Serpas
Loss
by Carl Adamshick
Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother
by Bianca Stone
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
please advise stop [I was dragging a ladder slowly over stones stop]
by Rusty Morrison
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Room in Antwerp
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
Stairway to Heaven
by Alison Hawthorne Deming
the lost baby poem
by Lucille Clifton
The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling
Token Loss
by Kay Ryan
When They Die We Change Our Minds About Them
by Jennifer Michael Hecht
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To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death

 
by Lloyd Schwartz

In today’s paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment 

made me ache to call you—the only person I know 
who’d still remember his talent, his good looks, his self-

absorption. We’d laugh (at what haven’t we laughed?), then 
not laugh, wondering what became of him. But I can’t call, 

because I don’t know what became of you.

—After sixty years, with no explanation, you’re suddenly
not there. Gone. Phone disconnected. I was afraid

you might be dead. But you’re not dead. 

You’ve left, your landlord says. He has your new unlisted 
number but insists on “respecting your privacy.” I located 

your oldest son, who refuses to tell me anything except that 
you’re alive and not ill. Your ex-wife ignores my letters.

What’s happened? Are you in trouble? Something 
you’ve done? Something I’ve done? 

We used to tell each other everything: our automatic 
reference points to childhood pranks, secret codes, 

and sexual experiments. How many decades since we started 
singing each other “Happy Birthday” every birthday? 

(Your last uninhibited rendition is still on my voice mail.)

How often have we exchanged our mutual gratitude—the easy
unthinking kindnesses of long friendship. 

This mysterious silence isn’t kind. It keeps me 
up at night, bewildered, at some “stage “of grief. 

Would your actual death be easier to bear? 

I crave your laugh, your quirky takes, your latest
comedy of errors. “When one’s friends hate each other,”

Pound wrote near the end of his life, “how can there be
peace in the world?” We loved each other. Why why why 

am I dead to you? 

Our birthdays are looming. The older I get, the less and less 
I understand this world, 

and the people in it. 
About this poem:
“This poem was written out of great sadness, about the sudden and inexplicable loss, though not the literal death, of a friend—my oldest friend, a friend since childhood. It’s a common trope to address a poem to someone we know won’t read it—someone who has actually died, a former lover, even a lost object. The act of putting our losses into words and letting the world eavesdrop seems some sort of consolation, or at least an acknowledgement that we all suffer such losses. Here, the most painful element is the very mystery of this disconnection, which for me gives Pound’s poignant late-in-life lament such particular resonance.”

—Lloyd Schwartz






Copyright © 2014 by Lloyd Schwartz. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 27, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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