Dan Smith


A Letter to David

How Many Blocks in the Pile?
How Many Blocks in the Pile?
by David Meltzer
Essex House, 1968

Dear David,

Sit back, relax and enjoy it. Yours is a life well lived. You're a great, but humble man, I know. You deserve a little of what you give. When ever I spend time talking and ruminating and sharing a meal with you I always come away with the feeling of being very full, satiated, and then, subsequently this feeling I have of wanting more. You peak my curiosity. I crave more knowledge and want to talk with you some more.

Your shifting humor confounds me. When Sam (dear son) and I picked you up for dinner one evening and I said I was taking you to my favorite bistro, "Just like Paris!," I said. You said, "I hated Paris." And relating the moment of asking the piano player to play "Skylark" (one of my favorites), the piano player said it was his favorite also. You quipped "He says that to everyone's request." Later that evening after dropping you off, Sam and I laughed long and hard. Sam said, "He knows how to get you."

Going back to when I first met you and Tina in Bolinas. Oh how I admired the two of you, full lives, complete with daughters. A family. That's how I wanted my life to be.

But I was an ass. It took years to get it right. To create a family of my own. I don't think I heard you read a poem until thirty years later, so my admiration for you never had anything to do with you as a "literary figure." To this day I have a vivid memory of the two of us sitting on the last two stools at Smiley's having a conversation about "the mundane." It was my first glimpse (I think I was about Sam's age at the time) into the world of Zen, the accepting of the Everyday. My only regret is that we didn't see each other between Bolinas and now. But maybe that makes it better now. I am infinitely a better person for knowing you. I'm even starting to like Japanese food.

As ever, Daniel


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