Ed Ackerson – Photo by Shane Flanery
I wrote this poem in February of 2021. Early this 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
counsellor on Zoom.
Rewind the pandemic fall
and summer of 2020, the May riots,
the burning of the 3rd Precinct Police Station. Rewind
8 minutes and 46 seconds, and remove
Derek Chauvin’s knee from a living, breathing George Floyd’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.
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.