Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Here I Am" - New Poem for José Gouveia by Martín Espada - Please Help

Joe Gouveia leads panel on the rant,
Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2008. 

Photo by Jill Brazel.
Joe Gouveia -- community builder, poet, great guy -- is battling cancer. Again. He has done so much for poets, as a newspaper columnist, the host of a radio show, an anthologist (Rubber Side Down: The Biker Poet Anthology), an organizer of readings and workshops, and more.

Split This Rock invites our community to give back and contribute what you can to the Joe Gouveia Recovery Fund, here: http://www.gofundme.com/584zps

Poet and essayist Martín Espada, a good friend of Joe's, has written the following poem in tribute. We urge you to read it, repost it, and spread the word, as we pay tribute to Joe, help him cover expenses while he's hospitalized, and thank him for his own powerful voice, his big heart, and his generous spirit.

Here I Am
            For José “JoeGo” Gouveia

He swaggered into the room, a poet at a gathering of poets, 
and the drinkers stopped crowding the cash bar, the talkers stopped
their tongues, the music stopped hammering the walls, the way
a saloon falls silent when a gunslinger knocks open the swinging doors:
JoeGo grinning in gray stubble and wraparound shades, leather Harley
vest, shirt yellow as a prospector’s hallucination, sleeve buttoned
to hide the bandage on his arm where the IV pumped chemo through
his body a few hours ago. The nurse swabbed the puncture and told him
he could go, and JoeGo would go, gunning his red van from the Cape
to Boston, striding past the cops who guarded the hallways of the grand
convention center, as if to say here I am: the butcher’s son, the Portagee,
the roofer, the carpenter, the cab driver, the biker-poet. This was JoeGo,
who would shout his ode to Evel Knievel in biker bars till the brawlers
rolled in beer and broken glass, who married Josy from Brazil
on the beach after the oncologist told him he had two months to live
two years ago. That’s not enough for me, he said, and will say again
when the cancer comes back to coil around his belly and squeeze hard
like a python set free and starving in the swamp. He calls me on his cell
from the hospital, and I can hear him scream when they press the cold
X-ray plates to his belly, but he will not drop the phone. He wants
the surgery today, right now, surrounded by doctors with hands
blood-speckled like the hands of his father the butcher, sawing
through the meat for the family feast. The patient’s chart should read:
This is JoeGo: after every crucifixion, he snaps the cross across his back
for firewood. He will roll the stone from the mouth of his tomb and bowl
a strike. On the night he silenced the drinkers chewing ice in my ear,
a voice in my ear said: What the hell is that man doing here?
And I said: That man there? That man will live forever.

Martín Espada


Limin said...

...this is quite tribute, thanks! Limin

Gretchen Farnham said...

Thank you, Martin, Beautiful! You may not remember, but I took you to the candy store in Hyannis when you read in our Forum at the college (Yikes - way too many years ago!) Joe is the best. Prof. Trish Allen always reads from your works at our GED graduations. You are a great part of our poetic collective memory at Cape Cod Community College!

mimzerella said...

I've been hearing Joe's name for at least 20 years, and there was always love in the voice speaking that name. I only got to hear him read a few times and that was in the last few years. Thank you for wrestling some of his life force into words.