Li Po of Topanga Canyon

     for Daniel Arthur Kleiss (1949-2010)

I never bought it—the one about the Chinese poet drunk one night, leaning out of a boat in
order to embrace a watery reflection of the moon, and drowning . . .

It’s the kind of thing people like to think about poets—that we’re easily enraptured, we’re
know-nothing fools.

More likely it happened like it did with Poet Dan, who lived in a tent by the side of the creek
in Topanga. One night looking up during a meteor shower he accidentally dropped his
poetry notebook in the water. A few of us saw him try to retrieve it. He stumbled, hitting
his head on a rock, and died facedown in the muddy shallows before we could reach him.

Poets and non-poets–we’d all been drinking. That night we’d all been looking at the
winking face of heaven, wanting in . . .

Gail Wronsky is the author of eleven books of poetry, prose, and translations. She teaches creative writing and women's literature at Loyola Marymount University, and lives in Topanga Canyon.
*Image courtesy of New York Public Library.
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