"As fire is kindled by fire, so is a poet's mind kindled by contact with a brother poet." —John Keble, Lectures on Poetry, XVI
I am sending this c/o the Dead Poets Society. I hope it reaches you all right. Sure, it's doubtful, I know. But, then again, why not? About the afterlife . . . well, let's not get into a big argument about all that. I remember we used to argue sometimes about whether there was anyone else, besides ourselves, out there in the universe. You said we were all alone here. I said that statistically there were probably hundreds of James Dickeys out there writing poems at any given moment. I was only kidding. I do, however, believe in the afterlife. Even if I did not, I would strongly argue that all that wealth of energy (and you had enormous energy to waste and burn until your very last sad days!) can't just disappear. It seeks and probably finds a home place in this lonesome universe. And, to use somewhat less cosmic terms, your poems, the best of them and they are many, are still very much alive and, I venture, will continue to be as long as our beleaguered language lasts. Critics and reviewers can and do and will give you a full share of ups and downs. They can praise you or blame you. But it is way beyond their power and authority to strike or destroy a word of your lifework.
Lord, it's been years since I've been in touch with you. Ever since I bailed...