Small Talk (in memoriam, for Joe Bageant, 1946-2011) By Gary Corseri

By Gary Corseri
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
March 29, 2011

Yellow Sunset

Image by sbisson via Flickr

(for J.B.)

This one—tack-witted, sharp of tongue—
thinks he’ll die soon, and so,
smokes on (although he loves his wife).

He has made peace at 62 (my age)
with demons, destiny, and even
the C.O.P.D. that will
kick him in.

We ramble on on his southern porch,
his whisky tone better than my northern drawl.
Following an ancient beat, we weave
jeremiads for our country’s loss—
the country of our fathers curls
like smoke in the pale, yellow light.

Nobody grows old, we conclude.
One day you are young
and the next—
you are full of all you’ve ever been.
After that—you’re smoke.

There is a way to look at a plant, he says,
and everything you know about plants
is in the contemplation of that moment.
And that … is dialogue.

We can also assure one another
that thoughts like ours have slunk around before,
were lofted by grizzled men before
campfires, under shooting stars,
and may yet float again
in the froth of this world’s flotsam

If not … in another world. …
If not … then merely in
this moment’s grim

(an earlier version posted at CounterPunch, 2008)

Gary Corseri has published articles and poems at Dandelion Salad, Georgia Review, The New York Times, Village Voice and other venues.  He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library, and PBS-Atlanta broadcast one of his dramas. He can be reached at or


Joe Bageant, 1946-2011

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