Keith Haring says every audience member is an artist because they create the meaning of a piece of art
Or, he said it in the past tense. Because he was alive
when he said it. And now he is a thing we have
all agreed is called dead. Dead is what happens
when everyone who loves you wants to talk to you
the same way they always have, and can’t
ever again. Dead is when all of what you made—
love letters, poems, voicemails, your tongue
into the shape of a clover in a high school photo—
is all that you are. Sometimes dead is kaput.
Dead makes your acquaintances think of you more often.
It makes your true loves say, I don’t know how
I’ll continue / to live. Talking to the dead
is a staticky connection, to say the very least.
And saying the very least is what the dead do best.
Because when you’re dead, people say what you would
have said. Your memory becomes a commodity,
your death a commercial which ends with a candle.
I speak to the dead with my yearning. I can write
to the bottom of a lake. And you, like me, might think
it’s nonsense. But you, like me, also suck sometimes.
You, like me, can be so cynical you’ll look at death
and say, prove it. You, like me, may have nothing left
to learn from all that you can’t see. It’s unbearable
to know so much, you stupid idiot.
And there are things
you don’t know
that only you can know.