My writing is at best Something that may live It may never live as it exists The situation READs Just a little undead
I would like to share with you several poems by the person who was my closest friend for many years, Steven Krantz. He died in 1973. He had barely turned 22 when he was shot down.
He was shot to death by a self-styled "man of God" for whom Steve was working (doing office work, running the storefront, preaching a few sermons on the fellow's circuit, DownSouth).
About a year before Steve discovered what he thought was this "neat incense shop! -- I've got to introduce you to this cool black dude, Norm!" -- a couple miles away from Sacred Heart Seminary (in Detroit) which Steve was attending, at the time, schooling for the priesthood.
Later, needing a job, he asked everywhere, & this particular "Reverend King" gave him one. In time Steve realized the man was a charlatan, a rich dude bilking the ignorant and the poor with false promises -- one of the religious predators. But Steve needed enough money to get out to Colorado -- intending to check out the commune scene, there, & the mines, & didn't want the hassle of finding another job for just a coupla weeks to get together the travel grubsteak (intending to seek work *in* the copper mines, there, once he arrived).
The "Reverend" King claimed to cure a number of things -- including epilepsy. A young epileptic woman (21, 2 kids, living on ADC) came to him with her problem and he sold her his "cure" for several hundred $. I forget all the mumbo-jumbo of the cure (told us by a police officer who investigated the case) -- but one of the elements was lots of sexual therapy with the "Reverend" King (who *had* a wife); and the young woman, first & foremost, was to discontinue all the medication she was on that had been prescribed by an M.D. for her epilepsy.
The epileptic blackouts & fits recurred and the young woman returned wanting her *money* back -- that she alleged King had *stolen* from her purse -- after drugging her. King insisted that, quite the contrary, she still *owed* him a couple hundred $. She drew a knife and slashed at his face; King yelled for help and reached into his desk drawer for a gun. The woman fled.
Steven rushed (in response to King's cry for help) to reach the doorway *just* as King fired the gun at the fleeing woman. King brushed past Steve's dying body to fire a couple more shots at the fleeing woman -- who had a friend waiting to rush her from the scene in a car, parked outside, kept running. King's bullets damaged windows & a door of the fleeing car.
But Steve bled... and there was no stopping that bleeding. It was a major artery -- & every pump of his heart -- straining for life -- pumped that very life away. Medical personnel said that if they'd been there, immediately, they could not have saved his life.
But perhaps the sacrifice of *Steve's* life saved the life of another.
I remember him once saying -- about a year before then -- high up in a dead tree on the back part of his parents' property -- that he expected to die young -- and that if his life saved the life of one other that he did not feel that his dying would've been in vain.
The journal he had been carrying around in a backpack (which he had been borrowing from me for the past year) turned up "mysteriously" missing -- along with the entire backpack. Doubtlessly there was some incriminating writing, there, that King felt he had to destroy. Thus Steve's *best* poems -- written during that last year of his life -- when he was maturing and growing considerably (largely due to a Significant Love Relationship with Marjorie Guiessman) -- are lost to us.
But we can be grateful for what survived.
~~norman e. masters