Monday, April 21, 2008


This afternoon I received news that Eric Van Cleve, one of our June Poets from 2003, died last week at home in Ohio. Eric took his B.A. at Ohio State and would have completed his M.F.A. at Washington University next month. I remember him well, but am sorry to say that I had not kept in touch. I do know that several of "our Junies" ended up in the program at Washington (and several others at UT-Austin), and it sounds like Eric had many friends in his grad program.

His obituary can be found here.

Below are the only two poems of Eric's that I could put my hands on. These are the poems he selected for inclusion in the 2003 program anthology:


The man who sells mirrors is in denial.
With every purchase,
he loses a twin

but cannot bring himself
to take a chair
away from the table.

When he has finished eating,
he stares into his plate
and watches the one

who will never leave,
the one holding a fork
scratching his clean, white cheek.

** **
It depends.
It depends on the wind
for the man who sells perfume

on a street corner,
beside a hotdog vendor.
Which way does it blow?

Do the hotdogs smell
like prostitution?
Does a cloud of mustard or relish

spread around his tiny glass bottles?
Only the birds
are more confused.

A hungry pigeon,
a poor man, close enough
to peck the other's eyes out.

*** ***

There will come a point in history,
because everyone agrees
that history seems to be a line,

when, for wood, we will chop down
the last of the telephone poles
and pry apart our log cabins.

There will be no more room
for cemeteries, the dead dug up
to accommodate new bodies, the old bodies

kept in school, being that students
will no longer be with us.
On the way to the bathroom, one night

a man will peek through his curtains
and see a ghost:
a tree, a headstone or child.

1 comment:

Jeff Tigchelaar said...

I enjoyed these fine poems and was saddened to hear of Eric's passing. Thanks for posting his work.