Back to Archives


For Norman Goldstein 1925-1994 By Jack Foley


Grown accustomed to elegy

in this rainy weather,

I think about your warmth and dry wit,

the way you could say “woo woo”

and make it funny and pertinent at the same time,

the jokes you spoke to waitresses

with your smile and beard,

reminding me that the word “satire” comes from “satyr.”


I rented The Secret Life of Plants

so I could see you in it

What can I rent now to see you as you are

“Is it really you or did I get an especially good recording?”

I was not easy to reach by telephone

“Shall we dim sum it?”

And we did

often at your expense

“How about that Japanese place in Montclair?”

The secret of your life was food and wonderful talk

You knew much and always took the risk of learning more

You loved:

the American Movie Channel, Bravo, and musical comedies

Now when I hear again Kurt Weill and Gershwin I will

remember you and your kindnesses

“I've got it, I'll record it for you”

“Lou Harrison–yes, I knew him in the old days.”

You knew Duncan and Varda too, and you put on a poetry reading

Mais c'est un rêve

you would recognize that I think

une folie                                                                       

It’s a dream a


                      Il n’y a pas                                         

There's no such place

de Youkali

as Youkali

But it’s a dream

a fantasy          

There's no such place

   as Youkali


And now,


dear Norman,

there’s no you either

In that near, far, totally other place

what lunches will you have?  what companions?

I can say anything to you

and know you will understand me

with that thoughtful, intelligent, witty, compassionate, Buddhist mind of yours

(and is that scattered?)

You chose the moment of your death with courage and determination

“It's enough,” you said, “enough”

There is a restaurant in Montclair

where I will have lunch

and hope your spirit

comes to me

All lives are secret

or, as you might have said, loving puns,


It's not a dream

We lose those we love

      but we love