I haven’t posted in nearly ten days. Mostly since I ran out of pain killers. I spent a few rough nights trying to gut it out and finally on Thursday, slept through the night. Johanna and I spent the weekend enjoying the beautiful summer weather and yesterday, late in the afternoon, I went to the Bowery Poetry Club to honor one of my heroes.
Hersch Silverman, the bard of Bayonne, was the subject of a loving tribute by his poetic children. As Danny Shot said in his promo piece…”he’s the Grand Daddy-O of us all”. For us New Jersey poets that’s especially true. Danny and Eliot and I as well as many of our friends were all fans of Ginsberg and Kerouac and Corso and to be able to hang with Hersch was like being with them. But like us, Hersch stayed home. Instead of following his muse Hersch stayed in Bayonne, running the Beehive, and raising up two great kids. In the early eighties, following the death of his wife, he re-entered the world of poetry and we met him seemingly everywhere.
Danny and I published a lot of his work in Long Shot. Danny put out his volume “Lift Off” and Hersch was always a featured reader at our benefits. Listening to that man swing with words was just a rare joy. And he worked for a living! Not a bad thing to do cuz we were all working for a living. He was and is the man!
The night was great! Jazz and the poetry of jazz, Bob Holman’s wild words and music, a gorgeous duet with Hersch and Danny. Wild reworkings of Hersch’s words and Joel Lewis telling Hersch’s story. Of course, this being a gathering of New York poets there were poems that had nothing to do with Hersch and bad work and strange dissonant moments. But Steve Cannon was at the bar heckling with his little blonde helper and the bartenders were swift and the beer was cold and Danny’s sons Casey and Levi were hiding in a corner. It was a night of beat poetry in the most gone town on the south side of Jupiter, man. It was gone, daddy, gone. Like so many people that should have been in the room.
So, here’s a toast to Hersch and Bayonne and the Beehive. Here’s a nod to Allen and Gregory and Andy and Jack. Drink up my friends and drink deep!