Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Remembering Matt. Meyers though his poetry

Recently, my good friend Matt. Meyers died in New Mexico. Matt. was a very close friend from high school, and President of our Class (James Madison HS Class of 1966). He was a poet, and smart (graduate of Princeton), personable, charming, and a great friend. He will be very much missed by many people.

I recently wrote of Brooklyn Nostalgia, and as a way of remembering Matt. I am posting a poem that he wrote for our class' 20th anniversary in 1986. It captures, I think very well, the memories of 45 years ago as they were experienced 25 years ago.

Thank, you, Matt. We are thinking of you, and remembering you with love.

Twentieth Reunion

Of James Madison High School, Class of 1966
August 1986

We have come a long way
From that fragrant warm day in June
When we graduated from James Madison High School.
A long way from our freckled faced innocence and naivety,
A long way from our making out in any available
Movie theater balcony.
A long way from our exploring coffee houses in The City.
(Listening to early Bob Dylan, and Peter. Paul. and Mary),
A long way from shooting hoops and all night poker games.
(Smoking a pack of cigarettes at a single sitting),
A long way from our puppy-love crushes and embarrassed giggling.
A long way from bowling and ice-cream sodas on The Highway,
A long way from our Senior Singing.

But. we have come so far
That tonight we are back to where we started:
Young again, in Reunion.
How many crushes are being felt tonight?
How many giddy embraces are being renewed?
How many petty grudges are being finally laid to rest?
How many silent "what ifs" are being said?
Tonight we return to Brooklyn
To explore who we were and what we've become;
To marvel at our survival

Of two decades that took us from
Cozy tree lined streets to the carnage of Vietnam,
From the quiet of Bedford A venue
To the rioting in Newark and Detroit,
Our private adolescent distress turned into political protest,
The jubilation of winning Sing, transformed into
The celebration of the Woodstock Nation.

Classmates: We have made it!
Tonight is our assertion that we are learning longevity,
That we have become what our Yearbook inscriptions predicted we'd be;
We have mastered nervous breakdowns, bad breaks, and broken hearts,
Divorces, motorcycle accidents, demotions and false starts,
To take our place as safely ensconced adults;
Contending with mortgages and ulcers,
And a growing inventory of memories.

Some of our children are even college aged!
Their rooms already empty, except for the posters
And trophies and car keys.
"Now I know what our parents suffered through",
We mumble to ourselves in ever increasing frequency,
As we marvel at the unbroken circle
Of our children teaching us about our parents' worries.

We are a vast and powerful network, our Class of '66,
We sing for a living in Los Angles,
Own a business in Rio de Janeiro;
We have Doctorates in psychology, geology, meteorology,
We travel to Hawaii to take Nature photographs,
And England to manufacture woolen pants,
We sell insurance and real-estate and hosiery,
We are home-makers, house-husbands, caterers,
And of course, doctors and lawyers.

Let us also not forget our Classmates
With whom we shall not in body be reunited tonight?
Who of us has died of AIDS?
Or is home alone crying for lack of money or sanity?
Our who died in Vietnam,
Or in a car crash a long time ago on a lonely road in Iowa?
For them, our dear departed ones, let us also be a bit silent tonight.

Tonight we are poised on the poignant fulcrum of Reunion.
The uncertain future faces us with a wistful, beckoning smile,
The past, our common youth, with tearful eyes
Waves and wishes us a gentle "Good-bye".

1 comment:

  1. I was a friend and roommate of Matt at, and for many years after, college, but lost touch with him about 20 years ago. The last contact I had with Matt was when he sent me some poems around 1990. I was very sorry to hear of his passing. If anyone can provide some news of Matt for the last years of his life, and the circumstances of his passing, I would greatly appreciate it. I would like to compose a memorial to Matt, on behalf of the Class of 1970, for the Princeton alumni magazine. My email is RJB@ROBERT-BERNSTEINLAW.COM. Many thanks. Bob Bernstein.


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