Monday, February 19, 2007


I've put the pictures I have of Brent in an online web gallery/slideshow. If you have any photos you want to add, or want digital copies of any of the photos I posted, please let me know. Most of the pictures are from the time we just spent together.

I've also put this blog together as a place for comments, pictures, whatever. Please share your thoughts, memories, or prayers, if you feel called. If you would like to post anything or become an author, let me know.

Click here to go to the gallery.

If you can't see the link, copy and paste the following directly into your browser:

Members of the Tribe

Members of the Tribe
by Mary Oliver

Ahead of me
they were lighting their fires
in the dark forests
of death.

Should I name them?
Their names make a long branch of sound.

You know them.


I know
death is the fascinating snake
under the leaves, sliding
and sliding; I know
the heart loves him too, can't
turn away, can't

break the spell. Everything

wants to enter the slow thickness,
aches to be peaceful finally and at any cost.

Wants to be stone.


That time
I wanted to die
was playing the piano
in the room with me.

It was Mozart.
It was Beethoven.
It was Bruckner.

In the kitchen
a man with one ear
was painting a flower.


in the asylum,
I began to pick through the red rivers
of confusion;

I began to take apart
the deep stitches
of nightmares.

That was good, human work.

This had nothing to do with laying down a path of words
that could throttle,
or soften,
the human heart.

Yeats, in love and anger,
stood beside his fallen friends;
Whitman kept falling
through the sleeve of ego.

In the back fields,
beyond the locked windows,
a young man who couldn't live long and knew it
was listening to a plain brown bird
that kept singing in the deep leaves,
that kept urging from him
some wild and careful words.
You know that
important and eloquent defense
of sanity.


I forgive them
their unhappiness,
I forgive them
for walking out of the world.

But I don't forgive them
for turning their faces away,
for taking off their veils
and dancing for death --

for hurtling
toward oblivion
on the sharp blades
of their exquisite poems, saying:
this is the way.


I was of course, all that time
coming along
behind them, and listening
for advice.


And the man who merely
washed Michaelangelo's brushes, kneeling
on the damp bricks, staring
every day at the colors pouring out of them,

lived to be a hundred years old.


For those of you who haven't heard, Brent left his body last week. He overdosed sometime Monday night, and was dead by Tuesday morning.

Brent's spirit was gigantic, powerful, relentlessly wild, and driven by forces that did not make his time on this planet easy for him or for the people who love him. The level of his giftedness, sensitivity, and woundedness was off the charts in so many ways. He took on a great deal, and I love him for the ways he forged through his life.

It's painful and beautiful and sacred to be in the presence of Brent's death, much as it was to be in the presence of his life. Each time my mind reaches for a place to settle, an interpretation, a way to make peace and understanding with what's happened, I am returned to the realization that there is so little I know about death, about life, about anything. The mystery is vast. i do know that I loved Brent deeply, that our connection continues, and that his life impacted me profoundly.

I am so grateful to have spent a day and a half with Brent a week before his death. I flew out to California to pick him up from prison and drive him to Santa Cruz, where he had to parole. Though he was guarded and traumatized in certain ways from his time in prison, Brent was in an incredible space - open, sweet, playful, and more sober, self-knowing, grounded, and forward-looking than I've ever seen him. We took a hike, drove for hours under a giant rainbow circling the sun, and cuddled all night. Most of all, we had fun and enjoyed each other's company.

Thank you to all who allowed Brent to touch your heart, inspire you, challenge you. If you feel called, I invite you to light a candle, say a prayer, or find your own way to connect with his spirit and send it support as it makes its transition.