JOHN REED by David Fewster
My personal hero in the large, illustrated
history of Wallace Berman’s Life & work
was John Reed,
a poet and collage artist
of no apparent relation to
the dude buried in the Kremlin.
In fact, he was a total loser,
a drug-addled sponger and grafter who created
a few ephemeral pieces of art
before dropping out of sight
for decades until turning up
at the turn of the millennium
as a homeless nutjob furtively living
on the Pasadena Library grounds.
And yet, just a few years after
his squalid wino death in 2001, there he was,
with the portrait of his younger self
and a sampling of his speed freak creations
adorning the walls of a
major art exhibition and catalog.
For nearly 40 years, since I was 19, this has
always been my nebulously-conceived dream,
formulated on my long walks from
Boardwalk to Venice
Pier, Santa Monica
when I lived in a dilapidated boardinghouse
on Pico and Ocean
where I had to wear sneakers to take a shower
in the communal bathroom
to avoid stepping on broken glass and syringes.
Not for me world fame and riches
--a sucker’s game—
I would’ve been happy to die
a minor cult figure,
content to have left the smallest talisman
on the path of recorded history
to commemorate a life spent searching vainly
for Art & Love…
For crying out loud, is that
TOO MUCH TO ASK?