RIP Jake Adam York (1972-2012)


Tonight I fell out of myself upon learning that Jake passed away yesterday. Aside from only being forty years old, he’s just someone who I always assume (and look forward) to see at the next national literary gathering. He was always so warm and genuine, and was a genuine cheerleader of Black Ocean when we were just getting it off the ground. We weren’t close friends, but I think I knew him well enough to say he was a good guy–and one I have already begun to miss.

For anyone interested, there are a few public remembrances online:

At the L.A. Times

At the Rumpus

At UC Denver


Letter Already Broadcast into Space

 by Jake Adam York

                        —To Sun Ra, from Earth

You are not here,

you are not here
in Birmingham,
        where they keep your name,

not in Elmwood’s famous plots
                or the monuments
of bronze or steel or the strew

        of change in the fountain
where the firehoses sprayed.

                In the furnaces, in the interchange sprawl
        that covers Tuxedo Junction,

in the shopping malls, I think,
                they’ve forgotten you,

the broadcast towers, the barbecues,

        the statue of the Roman god,
spiculum blotting out
                part of the stars.

To get it dark enough,
        I have to fold back 
into the hills, into the trees

                where my parents 
planted me, where the TV
        barely reaches and I drift

with my hand on the dial
                of my father’s radio,

spinning, too, the tall antenna
        he raised above the pines.

I have to stand at the base

                of the galvanized
pole I can use as an azimuth
        and plot you in.

The hunter’s belt is slung again,
                and you are there

in the pulse, in the light of
        Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka,

all your different names,

                you are there
in all the rearrangements
        of the stars.

                        Come down now,
come down again,

                like the late fall light
into the mounds along the creek,

        light that soaks like a flood
to show the Cherokee sitting upright
                underground, light 

like the fire they imply.

        Come down now 
into the crease the freight train
                hits like a piano’s hammer

and make the granite hum

                        Come down now

as my hand slips from the dial,
                tired again of looking
for the sound of another way

        to say everything.

Come down now with your diction
                and your dictionary.

Come down, Uncle, come down
        and help me rise.

I have forgot my wings.