Robert Hunter's poetic goodbye to his longtime songwriting partner and Grateful Dead frontman, Jerry Garcia. I recently found this poem copied into the back of my copy of Box of Rain, Hunter's collected Dead lyrics, and a little more scrounging around through ancient history revealed it was published in Rolling Stone magazine on 21 September 1995 (p. 28). The poem itself is a song without music. Its tone and theme are very similar to Ken Kesey's New York Times obituary/eulogy for Garcia, "The False Notes He Never Played" (The New York Times Magazine, 31 December 1995, p. 20) Garcia's 1995 death left many feeling a void.

An Elegy For Jerry

Jerry, my friend
you've done it again,
even in your silence,
the familiar pressure
comes to bear, demanding
I pull words from the air
with only this morning
and part of the afternoon
to compose an ode worthy
of one so particular
about every turn of phrase,
demanding it hit home
in a thousand ways
before making it his own,
and this I can't do alone.
Now that the singer is gone,
where shall I go for the song?

Without your melody and taste
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing
a hive with neither honey's taste
nor power to sting.

What choice have I to dare and
call your muse who thought to rest
out of the thin blue air,
that out of the field of shared time,
a line or two might chance to shine.

As ever when we called,
in hope if not in words,
the music descends.

—copyright Robert Hunter, 1995.

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