Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Memorial Reading for Ed Galing by Alan Catlin

A Memorial Reading for Ed Galing

By Alan Catlin

The last Sunday of the year is the traditional poetry service at the Schenectady Unitarian Universalist church. I signed up at the last possible moment this year and faced a dilemma as to what to read. As I told the congregation, when you have tens of thousands of poems choosing one that was appropriate is extremely difficult. Generally, when I don’t know what to read, I read the last piece I wrote which was to be a poem as epistle, in memory of Ed Galing, who had recently died. As with others of my correspondence friends, a letter poem seems the most appropriate way of paying tribute; addressing the person directly as if writing a letter they would actually read. Every year, on vacation, I write a post card to Dave Church from Block island, as I did when he was alive. I see no reason to discontinue the practice now that he is no longer here to read it. He is alive to me in my heart and always will be, as will Ed. 

The problem was, my last poem was not finished yet; his passing is still too new for the kind of distance needed to write the kind of poem he deserves. Instead I tried to find a piece that Ed would approve of. As I said to the congregation, Ed was a simple man, a humble man, who wrote up until the day he died. Apparently that included letters to many he felt closest too knowing the end was near. I wrote back to Ed right away, after receiving my last from him, thinking you never knew which letter would be the last one. Ed was 96 after all, the poetic grandfather I had never known. As I pointed out with reference to the previous reader , who read a poem by Wordsworth’s ships passing in the night, our letters crossed in the mail. 

Ed embodied the virtues that I consider the most important in a man: he loved simply and well, especially his family, his beloved wife, Esther, to whom he was married for 67 years and whose death he never recovered from. He knew poverty but it his spirit knew great riches and with that in mind I read the following poem dedicated to Ed Galing 96.

Love in a Time of War

You can see them, the pregnant women, the nursing mothers,
the lovers holding hands

Their ears wired for sound, one thousand songs for liquid days,
a herald angel’s apocalyptic ode

And for some, the bombs are falling now, all the highways are
mined, the mangled fields are as unsafe as any road

The bombs falling are an aphrodisiac, the shock and awe of love
among the ruins; all their exposed flesh burned where it is
Even when the war is ten thousand miles away

Ten thousand miles or five thousand, it makes no difference, war
is simply something just beyond the horizon and love is what
happens right here

Right here where the black hawks are flying, where the bombs are
smart, the missiles guided, precision piloted reminding us it
is not so much how the bombs are directed but where they land

And who they land on that matters, distance is a factor in a time of war

In a time when we have come to love the bomb more than we love our
fellow man, more than we love ourselves

Maybe, what we know is not love at all but something more primitive,
something bestial and impure

Something that causes us to believe that we are no longer descended from
Angels, unless the angels are the exterminating ones, the kind that
fly on the wings of stealth bombers that inflict their death, unseen,
from above

Consider what they have wrought; consider the light from burning cities as a
celestial event, a fireworks display, a celebration for the dead, for love
in a time of war

Love in a time of war is all we have.

Cherish it.

****Alan Catlin  has published well over sixty chapbooks and full length books of both prose and poetry.

Poem for the memory of poet Ed Galing by A.D. Winans


a rose blooms
deep in the memory bank
in the garden of poetry
you tended to with loving care

you wrote your poems
in the language of the people
kept your gnarled fingers
dancing across the keyboard
until you folded like a ballernia
wavering without a safety net
the black panther of death
stalking your poetic soul

your eyes an abandoned lighthouse
steer you toward the galaxy where
the man in the moon waits
to greet you

your spirit in full bloom
tends to the stars
rides the galaxy
where new poems wait
to be cut into like
a wedding cake

words clear and pure
never obscure
no metaphor tricks
no simile illusions
ten fingers working
the keyboard
like a magician secure
in his trade

go my friend
to that tomb in the sky
where lovers wait
at every intersection
and light shines eternal


 A. D. Winans was born in San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco State College (now University). He returned from Panama in 1958 to become part of the Beat and post-Beat era. He is the author of 45 books of poetry and prose including North Beach Poems, The Holy Grail: The Charles Bukowski Second Coming Revolution, North Beach Revisisted, This Land Is Not My Land and The Wrong Side Of Town. From 1972 through 1989 he edited and published Second Coming Magazine/Press. He worked for the San Francisco Art Commission (1975-80), during which time he produced the Second Coming 1980 Poets and Music Festival, honoring the late poet Josephine Miles and the late blues musician John Lee Hooker. He has received numerous editor and publishing grants from the NEA and the California Arts Council, and writer assistance grants from PEN and the Academy of American Poets.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ed Galing Has Passed at age 96

I was feeling anxious and uneasy--the last few days.. For some reason something was not right...Today I got a call from Ed Galing's son--he was found dead in his bathroom--at age 96. The son was crying and I am now...I published Ed in every issue of the Ibbetson Street Press and the June 2014 issue was to have his portrait on the front cover--he died before he could see it--I will miss Ed Galing greatly--- here is an article I wrote about him for Rattle http://www.rattle.com/rattle26/holderd.htm 

Please send flowers and notes to his son: Leonard Galing  16308  Gemini Court Ft. Myers, Florida  33908