Sestina on the death of an American icon
We both swore we wouldn’t see the new Batman, but then Heath Ledger died.
I’m amazed by the outpouring of naked
emotion (500+ “RIP” groups on facebook) —
it’s true, we’re obsessed with the stars of movies.
You’re sure his death will reach the “I remember where I was the day”
level of cultural significance, beyond the typical celebrity car crash or drug addiction.
I’ll be honest, I’m as guilty as the next person of perverse celebrity addiction
(I could hardly wait for the toxicology report when I heard he died).
And yes, I probably will remember: we started drinking early that day
so by late afternoon the sharp air no longer stung our naked
faces and when I opened my computer I saw Brokeback Mountain added to Thom’s favourite movies
and then I saw the status updates and suddenly needed to get off facebook
(I get pretty emotional when I’m drunk and on facebook)
and strangely, I thought of the day we met, in our class on the psychology of addiction.
We talked about Ondaatje’s poetry and Gondry’s movies
and before long the nervousness had died,
all I could think about was how you’d look naked,
the size of your nipples and if you had any tattoos and so I called you the
It’s been almost a year (feels like a day)
and aside from this stint of weird facebook
tension between us when you spent five weeks in Sienna and posted half-naked
pictures with some douchebag you’ve been a lingering and welcome addiction.
We’re both scared of planes and bury our fish after they’ve died
and hate all the same movies.
I still remember when you downloaded the full library of Heath Ledger movies
and we tried to watch them all the same day.
Midway through A Knight’s Tale the battery on my laptop died
so I took your phone to check facebook —
you got mad and said I had an internet addiction,
and stormed out before the scene where Chaucer runs around naked.
No one wants to die alone and naked,
not even those who get immortalized in blogs and youtube movies.
Anytime I think about the inevitable outcomes of addiction
I get really motivated for like a day
and organize my mp3s, go to the gym, delete facebook,
wish I’d written to Vonnegut and Thompson before they died.
Realistically though I’ll stay naked, wait to start my essays tomorrow and spend the rest of the day
battling facebook addiction,
torrenting movies, and wondering which new celebrities have died.
Published online March 01 2009.