In Memoriam   Leave a comment

Saint Francis

Image by Two Ladies & Two Cats via Flickr

Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of talking about me, I’d like to remember an old friend.

This week, the world lost a good person, who was also a great poet. I met Father Emmett Jarrett about ten years ago, when I first started to become involved in the poetry scene in New London, Connecticut. To the poets who met weekly at Muddy Waters, he was simply Emmett, a poet who had a knack for putting a rhythm on a story, lull you to comfort with the quietness of his gravelly voice, and then drive the ending right through your heart. He could create humor out of tragedy, make you feel and care about people you will never meet, experience places and events you will never witness.

More than a poet, Father Emmett used his words outside the coffee houses and art galleries where the New London School of Poets would gather. His work within the church championed the needs of the less fortunate, shedding a glaring light on the injustices of pur society the rest of us would rather gloss over, ignoring those people who live in the third world right here on the streets of America. Right to the end he was faithful to his message and his life’s work. As fellow New London poet Megan J. and I walked to the front of St. James to say good bye, we knelt at a plain wooden box, not a pricey and polished casket.

As the managing editor of Chopper Poetry Journal, I was honored to publish Emmett’s work twice, in the first and second issue. One of his poems in Chopper 2, “Asleep in a Haystack”, takes on new meaning as the people of New London say goodbye.

Asleep in a Haystack

the taste of light

is the taste of mango juice

sweet and smooth

to the tongue

open eyes two

candles burning

street lamps outside

fade with

the dawn

the pilgrim asleep

in a haystack

dreams his staretz

points to a page

in the book-

“the one in you

is greater

than the one outside”

the taste of light

is smooth as the grain

of wood and the altar

sweeter than–

wake up pilgrim

dreaming of light

there is nothing

to fear

nothing

that is not

mango juice

to the taste

of light under

the haystack

fast asleep

–Father Emmett Jarrett, Chopper 2, December 2007

Goodbye, good pilgrim. Heaven has gained an angel.

To read more about the life and work of Father Emmett Jarrett, click here

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