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As he breathed

A poem in memory of Milton Kessler, poet and my poetry teacher at Harpur College. He passed away in the Spring of 2000.

A poem in memory of Milton Kessler

(1931 - 2000)

By Albert Fried-Cassorla

As Milton Kessler breathed, so did he voice, with power emerging from throat and lung, his instruments of choice.

From there came both the

declamatory and the fond,

the essence of the you-to-me bond.


He taught us to be proud and do what one can,

to believe -- as he did -- that, "I AM A MAN!"


When we his students sought praise, he showed us the ways of insight.

To the competitive, he peeled some lids… gave sight.

All reasons why Milton's impact was not slight.


In his Bingo home, we gathered in the 60's

to find the lyrical center and air our better dreams,

And his reflection made it work, made the separate journeys

somehow a joint elated scene…


"I will study with Lionel Trilling," I told him proudly one pre-Columbia day.

"He's a wise man, " he replied with some pride. "You'll learn from him."

And so I did, but not in as personal a way.


After all these years, I hear his voice, grand as his own Grand Concourse

see his hands large-fingered upon the world, like an indomitable player

who can palm any ball, any at all…

Reaching out to us all with wisdom and soul, so full-handed


Milton, I was your favorite for a moment, and it meant so much to me.

Perhaps a childish joy in a time of delight and discovery

But all that meant not so much, as what you showed us we could be.


Go, and be missed. It is your right -- though much too soon.

But do not leave our hearts, our ears,

-- after the living and lyrics of not enough years.


—— Albert Fried-Cassorla, May 31, 2000

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