Dear Mr Paul Squires,
Even though I am slightly ill (so please forgive my spelling errors) I feel the need to write to you now that you are in heaven or in some other transgressive realm. I went to bed with you on my mind and awoke with the taste of your words in my mouth. I found out last night, upon arriving home from work, that you have passed away. I was told that you decided to “fall” your way out from this universe. Last night while I was lying in bed I was pre-occupied with the way in which you handled the fall. Did you have a smile upon your face as you let go of your physical body? Were you terrified and filled with fear or did your much adored alcohol take the edge off as you made your way down? I see you turning yourself into a worm like ball, sticking your hands over your head and yelling out “wee!” as you go. But I wish this was all that I could see because there is another picture of you that I have in my head as you take your final fall. I see you terrified and trying to hang on to something that will keep you in this life. I see you not yet ready to go and pissed that you were not aware of your final step. There is blood and a lot of unpleasant, un-poetic sounds. In my image of your fatal fall I see the words that you are yet to write into life trying to stop your terrible tumble. There are tears in yours eyes and pain in your skull because you know that not even the words that you dedicated your life to could save you when you needed them most.
This is an image that I am trying to erase from my head. Instead I have watched countless videos of you (okay only one video, but I have watched it again and agin) reciting your heart grown poems. I find myself being more interested in the way you move your hands and hold your body then I am with the actual poem. I know that you believed that the posture that a poet assumes when reciting a poem is as important as the poem itself- but the way you move your figure with the grace of a cat or fish makes me wonder if the beauty of your movements does not overpower your words. For me Paul, you were a physical presence. Even though I never met you in the flesh, you were my literary beloved. I feel your presence when I write and the knowledge that soon after I post an entry on my ridiculous blog, you will be using your eyes to digest my words, is what kept me going. The fact that now I know that you are not on the other side of my computer, that we are not connected by a digital umbilical cord any longer- seriously diminished my will to write.
But I do not want to talk about me. I want to talk about what it is you mean to me dear Paul. As far I was concerned you were my poet laureate. You were my greatest critic and a big chunk of my inspiration. You gave me the courage to believe that maybe what I was writing was not crap. Praise from you was like having one of my short stories published in the New Yorker Magazine. Because of your praise I gained faith in my writing and actually learned to see my self as a writer in the feedback that you gave to me. I threw out literary references at you and my intention was to hit you in the face or stomach. But each reference I threw out, even the most obscure ones, you caught, understood and returned to me with such grace that I was humbled by your intellect, understanding and skill. You did your homework Paul Squires. You read the books, toiled over and mastered the poetry and in my eyes you were without a doubt the real thing. A modern-day Yeats, one of the greatest Australian poets that has ever lived.
But I want to talk more about your fall because for now I am more hung up on your death that I am on your life. I am in a state of awe mixed with shock. This morning I woke up dizzy and sad. Two hours later I am still dizzy and sad. Personally I think a fall is a brilliant way for a poet such as yourself to exit from the stage of life. I can not help but wonder if you purposefully chose your exit knowing full well that it was the perfect literary death. I mean falling to ones death has been done by other literary giants. Primo Levi fell down a flight of stairs. Dylan Thomas fell out a window. Bohumil Hrabal fell out a window. I know that you must have been aware of these all too literary final exits and I can not help but wonder if one evening you got drunk and decided to follow their way down. I suppose this I will never know- and I am not so sure I want to know. I enjoy having the freedom to imagine you writing your final poem about” tumbling” and “the unexpected” and then stepping outside your door, smiling, taking a deep breath and then exiting stage left. Yes this is the kind of death I want to imagine you had. A literary death- the kind of death you deserved.
Paul’s final poem:
it is the unexpected
stumblings over (airborne joy with tumble roll)
which constitute the treasure
merriment and dance
I love you Paul Squires and I love what you meant to so many others. For as long as I am alive I will archive your words and your being in my mind and if one day I ever manage to have a child of my own I will read them poems from your “Puzzle Box” before they fall to sleep. I still can not believe that you are no longer in this world since for me you were so full of life and love. The time that you spent giving so much support and feedback to others was a quality in you that I always admired. I will miss never again reading another comment from you on my blog. I will miss our emails. I will miss looking forward to our future meeting. But you lived for 46 years and like so many of us mortals love to forget, death is inevitable. In the face of death you lived, you wrote, you read and you inspired. What more is there to a life well lived? So you have gone first and as long as I am here I will continue to live filled with the language that you sang into me. I will also continue to take you final piece of advice to me and “step outside, take a deep breath and just enjoy the slightest vibrations that are in the fresh air. Even though you can close your eyes, never close your ears. Listen to the lullabies.” Goodbye for now my friend. With tears in my eyes I hope the hardest part of your fall has now come to a peaceful end. Now you are apart of the voice of God.