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LIFE OF JOHN

Today NPR plays John’s songs — the ones
guaranteed to get you, “In My Life,” “Beautiful
Boy,” “Starting Over” — and I say to Krista,
“This grief will be with us as long as we live.”

John was finally such a sane person
not because he was free of neuroses and
contradictions — he wasn’t — but because
he so clearly wanted to be sane, adult, decent.

He could have coasted the rest of his days
on the Beatles godhead, but chose not to,
put himself in J. Edgar’s sights for the sake
of peace.  He leveled with us how it felt

to be a working class hero.  He got right
with the goddess on the subject of women,
and with tender attention and humility
gave years to fathering little son Sean.

“We have grown,” he sang to Yoko.  The last
morning of his life he told an interviewer
he hoped to be around for a long time.
Then from the crowd the cold gun nosed forward.

John, we were watching and listening and
planning to grow old with you.  (I know, “Life
is what happens ….”)  Ah, but you were a red
comet burning in the night of possibility!

It was all taken away so quickly.
Passing through our young sky, you left it changed.
Still I mourn all you’d have sung and said
these years had the dark forces let you stay.

December 8, 2010
—Thomas R. Smith

Thomas R. Smith’s poem in this issue is from a new chapbook of poems inspired by John Lennon and the Beatles, The Night We Saved the Beatles, Lost Music Press. Copies are available from the author at thosmith@spacestar.net. He will give a public reading of these poems at the River Falls (WI) Public Library on Saturday, December 8 at 7 p.m. His most recent books of poetry include Waking Before Dawn and The Foot of the Rainbow.

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