Elegy in Six Limericks
                â€” for Spencer Miles Kimball
By Scott Beal

There was an old man of Ann Arbor
who was notably shy of the barber.
                While he’d calibrate phrases
                and navigate mazes
his bright beard grew to cover the harbor.

I say harbor implying a coastline,
though our town’s in a midwestern ghost clime.
                We have water and air,
                frozen yogurt, despair,
but few sheltering shores where the boats line.

There were some old nerves who rang off-key.
I can’t say if he slurped or spurned coffee.
                In so few ways I knew him
                but meant something to him.
When he harbored delights, he spoke softly.

There was an old man with a weapon
no substance or cease-fire could threaten.
                If you’d beg him, or scold him,
                if you loved him and told him,
it rose up inside him, against him.

We have stood by the earth where his flesh is.
We have studied his words and made guesses.
                Each few weeks I’m amazed
                at his dead Facebook page
with its offer: Send Spencer a Message.

I say harbor implying a boat.
I say earth where his flesh is a coat.
                Send Spencer a Message
                Send Spencer a Message
His beard grew to cover his throat.

Scott Beal is a poet in Ann Arbor, Mich. This poem is an elegy for a young poet named Spencer Miles Kimball, author of the collection You Owe Me This, which was published by Red Beard Press (Ann Arbor) in 2010. Spencer died in 2009 at the age of 20.