Ed Ackerson

REWIND (a poem for Ed Ackerson)

Ed Ackerson – Photo by Shane Flanery

I wrote this poem in February of 2021. Early this morning, along the Seine in Paris where I am studying poetry, I read this poem to a small group of fellow students to mark the occasion of what would have been Ed Ackerson‘s 56th birthday.


            For Ed Ackerson (July 18, 1965-October 4, 2019)

Rewind the year. Rewind

the night we huddled

with Ed’s widow,

his 5-year-old daughter and the grief

on Zoom.

Rewind the pandemic fall

and summer of 2020, the May protests,

the burning of the 3rd Precinct Police Station. Rewind

8 minutes and 46 seconds, and remove

That murderous cop’s knee from a living, breathing man’s neck.

Unsay the 20-dollar bill was fake. Un-call the police.

Re-place the bill in George Floyd’s pocket and un-read

months of bad news. Watch

the global pandemic shrink to a single

fatal case in Santa Clara County,

retreat to Wuhan, China.


to Los Angeles. Return the children

to Disneyland. Revisit

the grandparents in Arizona

and friends in Minneapolis. Un-walk

the frigid streets from the downtown Hilton

to the parking lot of Schmitt music. Un-take the photo

of the children playing on snow

in the parking lot by the 5-story mural

of Maurice Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit”

in front of which Prince (rewind to 1977) posed.

Un-sleep off jetlag. Un-eat the Bloody Mary brunch

at Hell’s Kitchen. Return to Ed’s Memorial

at First Avenue, un-drink

a jumbo Corona and two White Russians and un-watch

small round pieces of ice in your drink grow

large and square. Un-hear the Jayhawks, un-hear

Mark Mallman and David Poe. Un-hear Ed’s wife

perform Ed’s songs with Ed’s friends.

Un-watch the tribute film.

                                                Un-talk about

how you can’t believe he’s been gone five months.

Un-fly to Finland. Re-survive

the long winter when mortality was the word of the day.

Every day. Un-watch

the Facebook video where Ed tells

his cancer has gotten worse. Un-read

the Instagram post where he reveals

his Cancer is stage IV. Feel your crest rise

instead of fall. Un-marvel at the shoutout

from Pete Townshend of The Who wishing

he hopes Ed will recover

in front of thousands at the Xcel.


decades, years, months, and days

of love and rock and roll

in Uptown, Minneapolis,

to a time where Ed is my neighbor,

and we’re both alive.