Poetry submissions are welcome. They do not necessarily have to be about Spalding or inspired by Spalding, but that is preferred. Please send in an email by using Contact info: uptonatom AT gmail DOT com (fill in the @ and .) - code is used to avoid spam spiders). Please check with me before sending attachments.
Barb Murphy is the site poet laureate. Contact with her is through Contact/webmaster link.
We are very fortunate to have well known poets write/submit poetry about Spalding. Submissions welcome.

"Spalding's Birthday"
(June 5th, 2012)

The time is near, we'll celebrate
The day of Spalding's birth
Continue on we know we must
Though Spalding's left this earth.

The 5th of June we can't forget
Our "Spud" that day was born
Still seems surreal he isn't here
Perhaps we want to mourn.

His children and his family
May shed some tears that day
And all of us who knew his work
Still love him, Spalding Gray.

I'm sure he'd say to all of us
"Please keep my words alive
As long as you're discussing me
My stories will survive."

So when your birthday comes this year
Your words alive we'll keep
Will toast to you our Spalding Gray
While so at peace, you sleep.

Copyright 2012 by Barb Murphy
For the 8th Anniversary of Spalding's disappearance by Barb Murphy

That January Day

As time goes by we wonder still
Why Spalding went away
Did his mind race or was he calm
That January day.

It seems as if he always knew
His destiny, his fate
Could anything have changed his mind?
Those years gone by, now eight.

No effort, words just came to him
We laughed and then we cried
So no, we could not understand
The way that Spalding died.

His mind made up he needed peace
That January day
I think he knew it all along
This talent, Spalding Gray.

We have his films, his monologues
Still cry we do this date
We wish he hadn't left so soon
Those years gone by, now eight.

Barb Murphy (copyrighted 2012)
- For Spalding, man. Long may you swim –


Cast off the chakra shackles
These crushing coils that bind
Suffocating energies
With paralysing primes

These permissive permissions
This moving moral feast
Are no pastoral pleasures
Nor guiltless, free release

It’s a dangerous distance
On this fume-fuelled fly
Dissolution down in dirt
To choose your rented bride

So hard to think on the brink
With the body clock bunged
Hard to only ‘Be Here Now’
With a flaming tongue

I’m cocooned by culture
Air conditioned shelter
Choked by canine politics
As the Soi bursts swelter

Underneath this three sun smile
Beneath the flashing sky
My naked fleck of ego
On liquid azure lies

No saffron robed prison faith
Could dance this techno chi
Withdrawn electro disconnects
From temple cash machines

His greatest gift is for peace
Held in a golden hand
Practised in tolerance
The life madra benign

Martin Curtis (copyright Martin Curtis 2012)
Gulf of Siam
May 2012
Columbi Bueno is doing a very interesting writing execise on his blog:
"a random photo with a poem made up of random words taken from a random book.
I will then write a short blurb about what the exercise has elicited in me.
Let's see how this synchronicity works."
The Spalding one comes from Gray's Anatomy :

odd cradling parties –
no lonely anatomy
with alcohol

You survived a fourth
opinion: the lame shall walk.
Then they speculate

over your bed, stuff
the recommended program,
go outside and bet.

(Words picked at random from Gray’s Anatomy by Spalding Gray.)

I wonder about all those iffy diagnoses.

Copyright 2012 by Columbi Bueno
"Still Trying to Accept"
We're told that time can heal our wounds
And sometimes, that is true
Exception may be suicide
Perhaps we missed a clue.
I think that Spalding seemed to know
There wasn't any choice
So on that January day
We lost a legend's voice
Of course he left so much behind
His family, his friends
His legacy will never die
Such talent never ends.
I think he knew it all along
This beast he had to slay
Though we are sad and left behind
He's at peace, Spalding Gray.
by Barb Murphy
I love the Fall, so beautiful
The air so crisp and clean
The gorgeous colors of the leaves
Red, orange, in between
The streets seem quiet, dark so fast
Can smell the fires burn
The only thing, it fades so soon
Like life, the seasons turn
We're innocent so short a time
Then middle age is here
Before we can enjoy the time
We find the end is near.
The Winter of our lives has come
What's next? We do not know
Our summer and our spring are gone
We wait, our final snow.
I wonder what it's all about?
Our seasons, passing on
Will anyone remember me
when my life season's gone?
I hope whatever happens next
when comes my final call
If there's a season after this
I hope that season's Fall.
- by Barb Murphy
I find on Spalding's birthday,
I'm reading all I can.
About his life, about his death,
about this complex man.
His genius inspires us;
Yet scares us, all the same.
I understand all of his angst-
Regardless of his fame.
It puzzles me why people ask:
"Why did he leave that way?"
I understand so perfectly
So much, I can not say.
There is this place within our heart,
A place within our soul.
Not everyone can understand,
It's so out of control.
To feel no matter what you do;
You struggle to the bone.
Surrounded by the ones you love,
still feeling so alone.
So, Happy Birthday Spalding Gray
Your every word lives on.
We celebrate, for in our hearts;
You're never really gone...
by Barb Murphy, 06,05,10 (Spalding's birthday)
Missing Spalding by Barb Murphy, 01,10,10 (6th anniversary)
His "Swimming to Cambodia"
Those monologues we knew
Such talent in one single man
So much, yet still so blue
Six years ago, his mind made up
Our Spalding went away
This world was just too much for him
He knew he couldn't stay
With scrambled thoughts, alone he went
To find his peace of mind
He's found that peace, though sad we are
For us he left behind
Some people still don't understand
Unclear inside their brain
But we who do must learn from him
Must come in from the rain....

We miss you, Spalding.

the following excellent poem has been called "really good, really scary and really sad"...

I Can't Find the Light by Barb Murphy

The darkness comes, it's here again
It's crept inside my brain
A reason "why" it never needs
This time its come from pain
The hole is black, nowhere to run
I couldn't if I tried
The promise of those "brighter days"
Again, are swept aside
I just want out, I want some peace
A peace I'll never find
You tell me I'll "snap out of this"
To "this" you are so blind
So now I write to get it out
Though out it will not stay
I'm tired, tired of it all
Can't face another day
Don't tell me that you understand
The reason that I weep
I only want to close my eyes
Want rest, want calm, want sleep

Now for a "More Up"
A Part of His Legacy by Barb Murphy

A man with talent so unmatched,
his mind would overflow.
Articulating every word ;
Alone, put on his show.
He acted, wrote, could do it all
We'd cry, with laughter roar.
When Spalding spoke of anything,
He'd leave us wanting more.
He made US talk, communicate
Cling to each word he'd say.
A brilliance shining on and on;
We thank you, Spalding Gray

My Cognitive Mantru (aka Swimming In MANTRUS) by jb with credit to Gary Larson - February 20, 2006, BC, Canada.

my pants first shoes second
my feeling alive
my being calm and active

Not Expecting You by Dan McCole

So you meander along your literary avenue , a
destination fixed in you head . You have been told a
mate is having a party and he wants you to come .
Storytelling and storytellers . The bright lights and
new carpet smell of the bookshop , the stilled silence
of cash for thrills and the interrupting beeps of
swiped cards.

Chekhov: The Undiscovered

You enter a room full of promises and leaning against
the wall, just beside the light-switch is Spalding.
He smiles that mixed smile and twinkles that message
of shared passions. His presence was an unexpected
bonus and you can hear his gentle breathing as Anton
starts to speak.

Neruda's Suicide Note by Alex Grant
Runner-up for the 2005 Pablo Neruda Prize, run by Nimrod International Poetry Journal

They say nothing ever changes
but your point of view.
Nothing – “some thing
that has no existence”–
this makes no sense.
I sit in the catacumbas
and listen to the rain
pound the papaya leaves -
my skin like confetti,
my heart a cheap lottery.

I have seen the tiger’s stripes –
they live between
the fine linen sheets
of an office-girl’s bed,
in the afternoon fumblings
of someone who is no-one,
with a heart bursting
like a red balloon
on a tap – the pieces fly
in all directions, you cover
your face with your hand,
and it sticks to your skin
like confetti, like phosphorus
launched from a Greek warship,
like the skin of a plum
peeled by a broken nail.

- In memory of Spalding Gray

For 5th Anniversary, Jan. 10, 2009 by jb

it's been 5 years 
and many tears
it's written that you could not be saved
from a watery grave
yet a plaque and a tree in Washington Square
tell us that you are still here and there...

AND by Barb Murphy, site Poet Laureate

When any person leaves this earth
We're sad, engulfed in pain
The worst is when depression wins
Can't wrap around our brain
Our Spalding left to find his peace
To quiet his own mind
We're sad he's gone but glad he left
His legacy behind
His wondrous words his monologues
Turn back those dreary clocks
His talent lives and he is safe
That monster's in a box
We miss you Spalding Gray
5 years gone


A Touch of Gray
To be alone, to hopeless feel
When darkness comes your soul to steal
Those tears fall down but you succumb
For when they stop you just feel numb
You want to run you know not where
Wish you could feel, wish you could care
You've come to this you know not how
Just want to stop this torture now
All colors fade they've gone away
You're left with just a touch of Gray

From William “Wild Bill” Taylor:

Flanders Field

Tis the morning son,

invites the poppies to grow,

in Flanders Field

on row by row,

each plot is marked with our unknown


each footrest,

a mother’s heart

we lie there still,

as the poppies and lilacs


each numbered headstone

is a history onto itself,

for our youths were cut short

by gunfire and politicians,

their eternal gift to us,

row by row,

tis requiem they cannot comprehend

whose valor does not pretend,

all who think of us now,

row upon immortal row…

William “Wild Bill” Taylor
February, 2004


The ice age came

upon us, after the last kill of

the purple pumpkin, stood in line;

their high priest,

calling us down,

the backward pass,

never the silver stallion.

the chopper flies, overhead,

megaphones blast the morning roll call,

washing his face, in a muddy stream,

he hears breakfast from his empty stomach,

foot itch,

with asthma,

jungle rot,

as little girls look over their shoulders,

when the yawn of a country’s


CIA, take the little girl, up star, and Peter Pan,

betrayed, by breaking waves foaming,

now starvation, to the hills,

you escaped the camps,

but not the chopper blades between

your ears,

sacrifice the lamb, country citizens,

forgotten today,

tied down,

by an American whirly bird…

William “Wild Bill” Taylor
May, 2005


“Doctor, Doctor, Mr. M.D., can you tell me what’s ailing me…”
The Rascals.

This pill,

it makes me feel good,

I do not cry,

I do not sigh,

I do not care,

I do not scare,

I have no complaints.

I do not shake,

There are no haunts,

no messy fonts,

There is nothing to scare

me away;

This big pill, it looks pretty,

it does not taste,

I have no haste,

I even pretend there is such a thing,

as divine grace,

I ride this medication, like a controlled


This pill, Doctor No, does wonders-

for I am loved from above,

by bowtied gods sent asunder;

I do not cry,

I do not sigh,

I do not run from the


(I even go to Mass,

on Sunday!)

I eat my peas, like a good boy


maybe I’ll even feed the cat,

without complaint,

I do not shake,

I even vote republican,

I do not cry,

I do not sigh,

I am the gentle neighbor,

but when the sun goes down,

I cannot hide, the fact,

that I am dying,

In this sea of cowboy


William “Wild Bill” Taylor
August, 2007

the difference between lighting and the lighting bug

“Suicide is painless, it takes on many changes, and I can take or leave it
if I try.”
I knew a medic,
he was braver than most,
but, he hated the quiet times,
there, he felt like toast,
trained him to be tough
and brave,
keep your patients from
an early grave,
especially the children,
we hold so dear,
risk everything for them,
the difference
between lighting and the lighting bug,
mother, wash your mouth out with soap,
don’t be a dope,
the dull times will hurt
the most,
for action jockeys hooked on
and rum,
Shane, Shane, the come back man,
put a lonely pistol to his head
with his shaking hand,
across from him the TV preachers
were a calling,
turn your life over to our Jesus,
there’s no time for falling;
all will be well,
if you send us some cash,
then you can dash
through salvation’s thorny gat,
if you use your charge,
we’ll include a prayer cloth
to wipe away your tears,
but absolutely no reindeers;
suicide is for losers,
God would not be pleased,
so stop this talk of leaving,

button up them bloody sleeves;
yet, those voices will not stop a talking,
when those latent clouds get stuck
a barking,
Shane was once a medic,
tough and brave,
but times got good,
all slow and normal, you see,
no late night calls,
with silent knocks,
danger, boys, at every turn,
he was always there
don’t call him square,
the revolver said go,
I told him no,
washing him out with a garden
Shane was a man,
no Wall Street man,
yet, no one can predict,
where bravery ends,
the thought of tranquility
drives a hero to say,
the yard went on forever…

William “Wild Bill” Taylor
December, 2006

copyright by Michael J. Grady

Spalding had left me laughing and crying… as he swam to Cambodia….
          just before I headed off to bed…late one night…
Descriptions of the horror to come …the Cambodian children waving goodbye …
          darkly clouded my sleep… into which …I would quickly descend…
The dream… I would remember next morning…placed me into the killing fields…
          walking freely…unnoticed…amongst the butchers and their victims…
I felt no emotion…completely detached…knowing this had already happened…
          there was nothing I could do to stop the senseless slaughter….
                   I was numbed by the overwhelming magnitude of the murders…
                             thousands of men… women…. and children…bodies everywhere…
                                       I looked down at the wet…red stained earth…beneath my feet…
Toward the end of the dream…I approached the back of a soldier…
          standing behind a kneeling woman..about to cut her throat with his knife…
                    I walked around them… to see if she was beautiful or not…she wasn’t…
                             I turned and walked away…
Upon awakening…I was confused about what the dream was saying to me…
          about me…about humanity in general…
I had heard that beautiful Jewesses survived the Nazi camps…if they cooperated…
          I know the effect of beauty…on my overall responses to women….
                   I know the actresses in Hollywood…are never homely…
Yes…I also know the importance of inner beauty…but still…I wonder…
          if there were only beautiful women in this world…would they end war…
                    collectively… could they end hate and killing… greed and madness?…
If such a prevalence of beauty is even possible…could it be used to achieve Peace?…
          would their faces launch a thousand utopian dreams… instead of warships?….
Would it…could it…be the missing piece of the puzzle…to finally end violence…
          on this blood drenched planet…where all else has failed!?….

copyright by Michael J. Grady

During a night air raid …Speer climbed atop his Berlin headquarters….
there he stood…watching and listening in hypnotic wonderment…
as searchlights scanned the dark heavens for their elusive targets..
the pounding of anti-aircraft guns…the bombs shattering buildings…
crippled planes screaming towards earth…the whole city a blazing inferno…
the blasts of sirens…water jets…shooting high…glistening in the flames
In his memoir….he recalled…it was so beautiful….
Why is war so appealingly glorious …and peace so plain…so dull…
is it due to the bigger than life weapons they use…the giant aircraft carriers…
the roar of the stealth bombers…the speed of missiles and torpedoes…
the intimidation of tanks…or the menacing presense of a battle ship…
could it be the political rhetoric of bravado…the call to inflict shock and awe
or the appreciation of a violent nation… who stayed at home to watch TV
for some, it’s surely the quiet excitement of money made from military sales…
the pen may be mightier than the sword ….but unfortunately …
we’ve inspired far fewer writers on the side of peace and alternative solutions…
I would really like to ask…our brave warriors…both on and off the battlefield…
if they promise not to shoot…
is your death wish just for others, not your brothers…
or…are you simply being true to yourselves…

Can't Cry Hard Enough (song about 9/11 by Bellefire)

I'm gonna live my life
Like every day's the last
Without a simple goodbye
It all goes by so fast

And now that you've gone
I can't cry hard enough
No, I can't cry hard enough
For you to hear me now

Gonna open my eyes
And see for the first time
I let go of you like
A child letting go of his kite

There it goes, up in the sky
There it goes, beyond the clouds
For no reason why
I can't cry hard enough
No, I can't cry hard enough
For you to hear me now

Gonna look back in vain
And see you standing there
When all that remains
Is an empty chair

And now that you've gone
I can't cry hard enough
No, I can't cry hard enough
For you to hear me now

There it goes, up in the sky
There it goes, beyond the clouds
For no reason why
I can't cry hard enough
No, I can't cry hard enough
For you to hear me now

And now that you've gone
I can't cry hard enough
No, I can't cry hard enough
For you to hear me now

"Frozen House, for Spalding Gray, is another terrific poem. Peter has written that Gray’s suicide, following three or more unsuccessful attempts (as well as his mother’s suicide), “came when I was in deepest pain from my chronic nerve problem, and I was awake almost all the time, half crazed with pain and despair that this would be my life, etc., and so when I wrote it the two pains conjoined, and I could only speak of him until the final question about what the future holds, when I knew I was asking how long the pain might last, his, mine, all of ours.

(W)e knew” what had happened, Peter writes in “Frozen House,” “when (Gray’s) body floated up/ with others (in the East River) . . . One by one/ they rose from the thawing bed/ like twisted flowers, their skin peeled,/ petalled around white bone stems.”

From by Dennis Grunes, about a poem by Peter Levitt from Within Within (Windsor, Ontario: Black Moss Press, 2008)

Then we knew.

That a man no longer—
That a soul could not—
That his sons might always—

It is sometimes hard each day
to breathe and move among the living
things of the world we’ve loved.

These lines are brilliant. The series of aborted assertions of what “we knew” consigns all certainty to loose ends; Levitt has found a way to express the utter helplessness we sometimes feel in life, which takes in the projected future as well as the past and present. Facts and figures, such as might appear in an official report, do nothing to solidify existence, which drowns in the unknowable nature of things.

Levitt’s poem expands its ground to include echoes of Tennyson’s Maud and of Yeats that shake the soul and terribly move:

Winter stillness, the calling beauty
of its dark, grows so slowly upon the land,
we hardly notice until all the internal
sheaves of ourselves believe
in their frozen solitude,
the solidities of their isolate lives.

For years my mother sat beside her window
unmoving despite my call. Only
the fiercest love forced her eyes
to unblear, focus, and return. So many
ghosts waited beyond the cold glass.

Her sister and the baby dead in childbirth —
Her brother at seventeen mad as Mona Lisa —
Her mother hysterical in the streets —
The immigrant poverty of that —

Against the crush of all this, however, “the body can bring itself/ to rise against pain that seems/ without beginning, that/ even death may never end.”

It is perhaps impossible here not to recall Emily Dickinson’s exquisite poem about pain—a poem that ends with a piercing use of punctuation (because of the double meaning):

Pain — has an Element of Blank —
It cannot recollect
When it begun — or if there were
A time when it was not —

It has no Future — but itself —
Its Infinite contain
Its Past — enlightened to perceive
New Periods — of Pain.

In effect, Peter’s poem rouses itself to bust through Dickinson’s closing barrier.


Now the complete Poem. Copyright by Peter Levitt. Used by permission.

Frozen House, for Spalding Gray

Light begins to return, though
the lake remains locked in ice.
No heat penetrates the solid ground.

One year ago a friend slipped
to the ferry stern as rehearsed,
then slid beneath the wake
until his lungs filled with the final
cold he had only imagined.

No note. No sign. No one certain
until spring when his body floated up
with others who submerged
in winter's despair. One by one
they rose from the thawing bed
like twisted flowers, their skin peeled,
petalled around white bone stems.
Then we knew.

That a man no longer—
That a soul could not—
That his sons might always—

It is sometimes hard each day
to breathe and move among the living
things of the world we've loved.
Winter stillness, the calling beauty
of its dark, grows so slowly upon the land,
we hardly notice until all the internal
sheaves of ourselves believe
in their frozen solitude,
the solidities of their isolate lives.

For years my mother sat beside her window
unmoving despite my call. Only
the fiercest love forced her eyes
to unblear, focus, and return. So many
ghosts waited beyond the cold glass.

Her sister and the baby dead in childbirth —
Her brother at seventeen mad as Mona Lisa —
Her mother hysterical in the streets —
The immigrant poverty of that —

Nothing beyond my window moves,
nothing above or below the ice
that can be seen. Even the sun
appears trapped, an outsider
pressing its face against
the sky's transparency.

Awake again all night long,
I stroke my ribs, the small
muscles between them that strap
me to their cage, and wonder
what future lies concealed
beneath the broken ground,
and how the body can bring itself
to rise against pain that seems
without beginning, that
even death may never end.

A Spalding Gray Moment by S. White (an important person)

i'm stuck inside my head
like a Tuesday tends to do to me
and plastered against my skull:
my brains and witty jokes.

Hold Steady holding steady from the
stereo while rain drips down down down
from the sky like a siren in it's fabricated
fashion acting as a siren for the storm.

empty pockets and a mind
full of questions most importantly
the "why?".

Well Betty left
and Jessie left
and i've got Katie and we're happy
but i'm always gonna worry when
she's gonna leave me, too.

(everybody leaves so why wouldn't she?)

we're just a boy and a girl
in America.
like all the other boys and girls
in America.

my low expectations are a
product of my nation
or at least that's what i say
when i get questioned.

i got questioned by the cops
i got probed and penetrated
by their cold eyes looking for
ghosts and guilt.

here in the heartland
it's getting harder and
harder to open up a heart.

we're coming in last in
middle America.
i'm running lost in
middle America.

i walk down the street
of my hometown to uptown beats
reflecting on my reflection in
broken shop windows and puddles
the streetlights just remind me
of the shadows they just make
the dark seem darker and i think
that defeats the purpose.

A Gray Day by Russ Smith June 5, 2009 (Spalding Gray Day)

there was a day when I spoke to a man
his name was a cloud
that coloured my mind
his wit
and charm
took me on a journey
where thought and feeling
became siblings
supporting and loving discovery
where challenge was ease
and fascination was our waking breath

on this day,
he twisted an idea
into a butterfly
as if it was made of skinny balloons
at a divine birthday party
and like himself
this clever craft flew off
leaving us with
a sweet memory
of life itself
just like this man
named gray.