Apr 5, 2013

National Poetry Month: extra poem written shortly after Kurt died in 1994


I wrote this lengthy poem shortly after the world discovered that Kurt Cobain committed suicide. I also gave a copy to Eddie Vedder after a long, drunken discussion on life, death, and the music industry one late night at a hotel in Cambridge, Mass. as the sounds of a nearby jazz concert filled the lobby.

Nullified Youth

What is your message?
Where is your voice?
Who do we turn to?
Who is our choice?
I don’t know the answers.
I don’t know the truth.
But I know I’ll keep living,
At least through my youth.

On Friday
April 8th
I learned that
Kurt Cobain
killed himself
with a shotgun.
Wound to the head.
Cobain was the leader
in what they call
the grunge movement-
but that mainstream alternative
caught him in the contradiction
of anti-self.

Why, man, why?
You left us here
to pick up the pieces
of your brief,
broken life.
You gave us a voice-
a voice for the
voiceless generation.
Do we still need that voice?
Will we still seek the truth?
And how do we interpret this act?
-this lonely, selfish act.
Is this your final
victory or your first defeat?

I know how it is
to lose meaning,
to be left dangling
hoping the mental string of life
won't break,
hoping you wont actually give up,
won't do it,
won't pull the trigger.
I know,
I’ve been there, too,
but (I hope) I won't
give up
like you.

Even Eddie said
he would have
committed suicide
long ago
had it not been
for music.
He found the will to live
in his voice,
his mode of expression.
Did you discover
that the voice we heard
wasn't your voice, anymore?
Wasn't you? Never was?

Did you laugh?
Did you cry?
Or did you sit silently
with a face of contemplation
dimly lit
by a light in the distance,
a blue hue
catching a glimmer in your
dead eyes
as you slowly lifted
the shotgun,
like liquid nitrogen,
aimed
and shot.
A shot
like a thousand tormented youths
screaming in unison.
A shot
that ripped out your soul
and spewed it all over
MTV,
numerous airwaves,
and the cover of Newsweek
leaving us the mess
to clean away.

Wipe away
your tears,
Courtney,
and don’t let her grow up
cold and bitter, too.

Kurt,
Will your suicide
give me the power
to live on
Or the justification
to escape?
I don’t know.
I don’t care.
Oh, well, whatever, nevermind.
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