Mudlark Poster No. 14 (1998)

Alan Kaufman

The Saddest Man on Earth

Alan Kaufman's most recent book is Who Are We? (DAVKA Limited Editions, 1998, ISBN 1-881822-01-X; distributed by SPD, 1-800-869-7553.) His other books include Before I Wake (Cyborg Productions, 1992) and The New Generation (Anchor/Doubleday, 1987). An anthology and documentation of 'Outsider' poetry from the 1950's to the present day, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, which he has done with S.A. Griffin, is in press. It will be available from Thunder's Mouth in April 1999.
     Kaufman's poems have been translated into Swedish by Carl Johaan Valgren and have appeared in Sweden in Bonniers Litterära Magasin and Pequod. His work has also been translated into German and has appeared in SLAM! Poetry, Heftige Dictung Aus Den USA and AM LIT: Neu Literatur Aus Den USA, both of which were published by Druckhaus Galrev (Berlin), and Chelsea Hotel: A Magazine Of The Arts (Frankfurt). He has performed his work in Germany, too, by invitation at Literaturhaus Hamburg, Literaturhaus Frankfurt, and Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, among other places.
     In the U.S. Kaufman's work has been published in many print anthologies and magazines, including Aloud: Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Henry Holt) and Coffeehouse Poetry Anthology (Bottom Dog Press); Witness, Tikkun, and Long Shot. Online his poems and essays can be found in Salon, ZuZu's Petals, Poetry Cafe, et cetera.

The Saddest Man on Earth

ignored how the rain felt
as he left home
for the last time

Wore down
his boot heels
searching for the woman
of his dreams
but never understood
that life is a woman

Lived in a town
where sadness was illegal
and where grinning
cops ticketed his face
so often
that he lost his license
to cry

The saddest man
on Earth
tuned guitars
but couldn't play them
cheated the IRS
of his own refund
fathered a child
who thought she saw
him in perfect strangers
yet didn't recognize
him face to face

I met him once
in a bar
toasting the mirror
with his stare

He had come
south to start
life over

He was a
Mozart of silence

Copyright © Mudlark 1998
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