In Memory of Arthur Joseph

Arthur Joseph was the man with two first names,
As Carl Welden would announce him during Poetry
Readings at Creations Coffee House on Thursday nights.
Each time I would arrive in New Paltz,
Even during Snowstorms, Arthur was seen
Emerging from some other realm,
Appearing out of fog,
Exploding down-hill in a wind bluster of red-orange Autumn leaves, on
His "in-Iine wheel chair."
Extrapolating verse on a cold October night or singing indigenous songs
On the sidewalk, in front of The Painted Word. ..after being on stage too long...

When I sat amidst the poets at the Plaza Diner or during
A break at the coffeehouse, the conversation would continue,
My note-taking as he spoke, perpetual teacher, the Kung-Fu Rabbi,
Swirling through generations, histories, herstories, mad gesticulations
With ever-busy hands, always asking me that one question he'd first
Asked at Creations in '95, "How does your poetry add to the community?"
I would discuss this with Arthur in one form or another almost every time
We met. I remember Arthur in the old, comfortable chair weaving stories
Out of chaos and connection; intuitive wisdom of the Earth.
Arthur often spoke of adventures he'd been a part of: seeing Sasquatch out West,
Wandering through woods in the Hudson Valley, hiking in the Shawangunks.
He played the woodwinds and pipes he'd made, taught Tai-chi and through
His glasses, and his unique singing voice, saw Hope, and despite many of his fellow
Poets' and Artists' cynicism, could laugh.
His laughter filled the grand hall, as we sat at the large tables, tired after one of the
Many poetry readings, drinking too much coffee; discussing the woes of the World,
making odd remarks, joking and word-play that only poets could fathom...
always leaving us with Shalom.
Riding off into the night, backpack stuffed with
Papers, books, and junk he found that he would soon transform into Art.
Disappearing in Autumn mists, still seeking, still learning.
Shalom, teacher. Shalom Arthur. Shalom.

-Robert Milby

October, 2002