Scrolling down the front page this morning while looking for the start to the dozen or so debate live blog diaries I stumbled upon a vast ocean of orange and bobbing along on the surface of the featured groups list was Kosability. Now, being a creature with few health issues, and practically all of those are worth sneezing at, I don't spend a lot of time reading Kosability diaries (really, how can I wallow in self-pity when people with missing limbs and leukemia are out there making a difference?) But, I thought of CJ Campbell. I wondered about this Kossarian (yeah, our ships look similar to Romulan ships but oranger) known as "ulookarmless". I don't have enough lives to read all the diaries posted on this site. I can't even manage to read all the diaries of the authors and groups that I supposedly follow. Anyway, I thought to hit the link provided and see if perhaps Nurse Kelley had posted an update. Last I'd heard CJ was in the hospital. Now he's dead.
That's nice and blunt isn't it? Yeah, the news of CJ's death kinda hit me like that-- like a blunt object.
Now, most of you are just a blur of usernames to me. Even some of you that I've engaged in hours of lively banter with-- I can't keep the memory of the conversation attached to your handle. I got to know CJ while working on a Gallery Kos diary together and I began slouching around his Indigo Calliope poetry diaries occasionally. He was more than a username to me; more than just another of the over half million blur of kos groupies, spammers and trolls that have paraded through this orange puddle. I stumble over your obituaries occasionally. Sometimes I think, "that name sounds familiar, I wonder what lively conversations we had." Othniel was one of those someones. And I've got two sites worth of comments and diaries to dig through with Othniel to try to figure out what banter we batted back and forth. And I know it's there daggnabbit-- but the search engine isn't geared to find the connections.
I rarely make a connection with a faceless someone online that stays in my head. My memory seems geared to visual stuff. Part of why I'm not a physicist I guess.
So, I'm sitting here this morning after having sprinkled a few 'likes' on CJ's Facebook page. I couldn't think of a comment that I thought was worth sharing. I wandered through my 'friends' list and thought about another one of the corpses I'm friends with and how I discovered he was dead-- by hopping over to his FB page to wish him a happy birthday of course. Like CJ and myself he was a person who played with words and colors.
Anyway, I find myself musing this morning. Musing and crying a bit. CJ was like one of those characters in a movie that sticks around just long enough to make you miss them. I'm missing CJ. He stuck around my life long enough to make me miss him. I'm willing to bet he's not missing the pain.
One of CJ's favorite things was writing poetry. The last time he posted an Indigo Calliope diary I was awake and stopped in. I mentioned that I had once had a poem of mine printed in a little student publication and that I might share it with him sometime. I thought it might be interesting for him because it was my first attempt, and perhaps only successful attempt, to write a sestina. Not exactly 'freeflowing' those sestinas. CJ wrote that he was looking forward to it: "With baited breath complete with canine drool for a delicious bone."
Well, I don't know about how delicious this is but in remembrance of CJ I wanted to share it here where we met. Where that character made me laugh just enough to make me miss him. Peace, to you too CJ.
Oh for the life of a toad in the shallows
of a pond. Feet down low and head held high.
Ever shall his toes touch water,
Always will his brow touch sky.
His meal is never far.
So calm is the life of a toad.
Wish for the life of a toad.
Spend eternity in the shallows,
where you can hear the far
calls of herons flying high.
Yet even from the sky
they can't see you in the water.
Yearn for days in cool water.
Because even the toad
tires of the open sky.
It's nice to rest in the shallows.
But keep your eyes up high--
for danger is never far.
Stretch your neck up far
above the quiet water.
Listen for the high
bark of foxes hunting toads.
Know that you're safe in the shallows,
under a cloak of night sky.
The sun in the sky
never dries you too far,
for in the shallows
your skin drinks all the water
ever needed by a toad
who keeps his head held high.
Think about oceans, high
mountains, and blue sky--
but live the life of a toad.
You may journey far
from the water
and never leave the shallows.
When in the shallows with head held high
and you touch both water and sky,
you're not far from the life of a toad.
- Mark Hirschler