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Joe Brainard

1942–1994

Joe Brainard was born on March 11, 1942 in Salem, Arkansas. He studied briefly at the Dayton Art Institute in Ohio before moving to New York City where he became part of a community of poets, including Ron Padgett and Ted Berrigan, and artists known as the New York School. He is the author of multiple collections of poetry and prose including the influential book, I Remember (Angel Hair, 1970). He produced several comic book collaborations with poets and was a well-regarded visual artist with works in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum, among others. He died on May 25, 1994 from AIDS-related pneumonia. 

Photo credit: Wren de Antonio

By This Poet

2

Poem

Sometimes
everything
seems
so
oh, I don't know.

Life

        When I stop and think about what it's all about I do come up with some answers, but they don’t help very much.

        I think it is safe to say that life is pretty mysterious. And hard.

        Life is short. I know that much. That life is short. And that it's important to keep reminding oneself of it. That life is short. Just because it is. I suspect that each of us is going to wake up some morning to suddenly find ourselves old men (or women) without knowing how we got that way. Wondering where it all went. Regretting all the things we didn't do. So I think that the sooner we realize that life is short the better off we are.

        Now, to get down to the basics. There are 24 hours a day. There is you and there are other people. The idea is to fill these 24 hours as best one can. With love and fun. Or things that are interesting. Or what have you. Other people are most important. Art is rewarding. Books and movies are good fillers, and the most reliable.

        Now you know that life is not so simple as I am making it sound. We are all a bit fucked up, and here lies the problem. To try and get rid of the fucked up parts, so we can just relax and be ourselves. For what time we have left.

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