R.M. Engelhardt

The Half-Dead Poet Review: Just Catching Up

Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.
~ John Donne, Another Poetry Guy



Now there’s a word you don’t hear much in the 21st-century world full of media, goals, dreams, and aspirations. In a place like this, it’s hard just to be you, wake up in the morning and drag yourself to work. It’s a wonderful life.


A lot has been on my mind lately and not just poetically. Things that never before bothered me much or that I never pondered. Things like retirement and my own longevity. I worry about my wife, my father, and my cats more than myself. Issues of this mortal coil and the loss of what we consider our selves. Our lives. Yes, the show goes on without us and always will. It’s obvious and forever sad. A novel or an ongoing play. The protagonist exits stage right and never gets to take a bow. Never gets to say goodbye.

In a just a few short days in March we unexpectedly lost a famous actor near my age and someone, a local musician and organizer, a friend who was a long time creator & supporter of the Albany area music and poetry community. Mother Judge. Caroline. An old friend. A great musician with an amazing voice. We were never really close but I always admired her and what she did and how she made her events special, made performers feel special. It was pancreatic cancer. Cancer wins again. It’s something I refuse to accept even after all these years and it still angers me. It seems like one morning we all woke up and found that many years had passed. The world changed, times changed and so did we. We once all lived in a place called downtown Albany where many of us were poets and musicians and we all went to the Best Damn Open Mic Ever at The old Lark Tavern. That was once upon a time. People like Caroline, Mother Judge only come around once upon a lifetime as well. So I thank her for making the lives of so many musicians and poets so wonderful and those moments so meaningful. Including mine. The show goes on now but without her and it will never be the same. So all we can do is continue to create and promote in her footsteps. Her legacy. And in the end, this is all we can do for anybody. Remember them and honor them by doing what they, we love. Creating opportunities for other musicians, poets and performers and following our own paths creatively as well. Embody their spirit and dreams and in our own way help make them happen. Yes. Make it all happen. But first?

Take Care of Yourself.

So as I mentioned previously we also lost an actor. Luke Perry. I have to admit I wasn’t much of a fan of his earlier work or of the show 90210 but I did discover him as an actor later in a great sci-fi show called Jeremiah which I thought was fun to watch in reruns. He died of a massive stroke at only 52 which I still find hard to believe. As a human being, he was down to earth and from all accounts a kind and caring individual. He was a man who helped out his friends and with spreading the word about colon cancer but died suddenly and without warning of a stroke. A stroke. A few months ago my father recently suffered one at 89. He’s doing ok now but for a while, it was touch and go. Frightening. It was a minor one thank God. But he worries me still. 52 though? Seriously? When someone, famous or not dies this young it gets my attention. Over the last two weeks, his passing has been in my feed on Google and hard to avoid. I must have read at least four articles on stroke symptoms and the legacy that he has left behind. Nonetheless, I now feel a bit threatened by the many health issues that I never perceived before. This is a time that I will remember but no matter who we are we must refuse to live in fear of shadows cast that we cannot see whether they be physical or otherwise, politics or anything else. That’s not living. That’s shit. A half-life. Be you. Be happy and go after your interests. Life is short even if you live as long as Ferlinghetti.

In my limited time upon this Earth, I’ve done and seen a lot of things. Good and bad. Dwell on the good ones in yours and give the grim reaper the middle finger with a smile. As for other subjects of late, how are you? It’s been a while.

The truth is? We’re all dying. But hang in there and find out what makes you tick first. Don’t let anyone stop you from making this journey some of us refer to as “Life”

Oh. And always have a sense of humor no matter what.

It’s essential. Remember those you love.