Carol Tarlen (1943-2004) by Jack Hirschman

Not only that, at 60, you were still too young to die,
Not only that, though a stunner in your twenties,
you walked hunched from years slaving over
as a secretary, bespectacled, no longer “comely,”
as another poet put it, maternal, even a bit dowdy-
looking, with a half-jaunty, half-slow step along
the sidewalk after work to meet Aggie at O’Reilly’s
for your favorite martini, a couple of sisters in the
sunlight that always seemed to find that stretch of Green Street.

 

Not that you weren’t a wild spender on techno-things
–a new computer and printer every year or so, one
having to step over wires at meetings in your little
studio pad on Grant Avenue,

 

But that you, Carol Tarlen,
who came from
and ferociously
adhered to
working class consciousness,
measuring everything
said and done
in relation to the slaving
and exploited masses
in their dream of liberation;

 

You who, living ironically
marginalized among
North Beach’s Beat
bohemians, anarchoids,
narcolepts and sundry
sundered egoes of
the great god Schiz,
wrote some of the most
centrally engaged,
embodied and revolutionary
poems of this generation,

and whose trust “in the
mystery of future”
is why there is no
death of you:  this isn’t a eulogy
but a celebration of another
great nourisher —chorosho!—
of the Internationale.

Which WILL be the human race.

“Which is always beginning.”

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