Leslie Scalapino, Peter Orlovsky, and Louise Bourgeois

It is with heavy hearts this Memorial Day that we note the passing of three longtime friends and members of the Poetry Project community. This weekend has seen the loss of Leslie Scalapino, Peter Orlovsky, and Louise Bourgeois.

There will be a memorial for Leslie Scalapino here at the Poetry Project on Monday, June 21 at 8pm.

Anne Waldman, who was with Peter Orlovsky today in Vermont, has asked us to share the following:

“The Shellean farmer astride his Pegasusian tractor” as Gregory Corso once knighted him passed on today, May 30 2010 to the elysian fields, a bardo of becoming. First glance hour earlier Peter was resting with “trach” in throat in orange sheets at the kind Vt Respite Center in Williston, Vermont (but no extra tubes/ heroic measures for this advanced cancer on his lung!), a copy of the Songs of Saraha by his pillow, photo of beloved Allen Ginsberg companion of many years on the wall, other Buddhist images, iPod of music he loved including chants by Buddhist nuns, cards from friends and out the window a bird feeder with finch and red-winged blackbirds landing/taking off. Chuck and Judith Lief, faithful guardians and friends at his side. He had been moved less than 48 hours earlier from intensive care at a hospital in Boston, finally to hospice. His body we were touching we noticed suddenly turned cold like death was in the room. We got the nurse. Judy and I stepped out when suddenly Chuck called us back. Peter had opened his eyes. Chuck said “It might be the last time”. By his side now, looking into his eyes told out love, I thanked him for his presence in our lives, his poetry his care and love for Allen,  his work at Naropa. Ah,  I thought a flash of recognition shivering through! slight movement of mouth,  light coming in on his handsome face through the window now, and  Judy singing om a hum vajra guua padma siddhi hum in crystal voice said “don’t be afraid”. Joined in. Last breathes, one coming late, staggered: his heart/breath stopt.  Poet Christina Lovin  in  room with nurse gave gentle witness who checked the clock 11:39 I think or so a.m. Earlier we played recording of Peter singing his Raspberry Song with great heart-soaring yodel and  “how sweet you are”. “Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired and handsome felt” ( “The Snail”). Tibetan Book of the Dead readings, in full final repose arranged with blue shirt, hands folded, consciousness a joyful gardener sprite? no fear, no fear working its way out…

Anne Waldman  5.30.2010
Vt Studio Center

(Photo by John Sarsgard, Vermont, October 2006)

With love to all,