Twenty Years of Dead

— Jon (1957-1993)

There’s not a lot of love that isn’t brutal, but we

had our East Village dives that didn’t open for Sunday
liquid-brunch until 1pm and Monday nights at the G&L
community center where all the boys were cruising and
you hung out with me anyway, and

your pâté, your miraculous leg of lamb, your
hundred layers of filo, and

your10 plagues, the infusions that didn’t kill
the germ that killed you, and how

after I met your parents, and
after I found the shoebox of postcards of martyred Saints
and slush pile of short stories you wrote in college,

I read your journals.

I should never have read your journals. Your love
was hilarious and full of grand gestures and
caution tossed, and

Christ how we could talk smart and fast like 2 Jews do,
I could meet up with you after an AA meeting, count
on you to say good god girl, you need a drink, because

you knew you were going to die and you could say
things so brainsick as after I die, I want you to burn
my body in the street and eat my flesh.

Risa Denenberg

Risa Denenberg



  1. very moving poem…the voice is so honest and loving!

  2. I love your Jon poems, Risa. They are strong and searing and paint such a vivid picture of your relationship with him.

  3. I get tired of saying things like Amazing! but the impact is too complicated for more.

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