Dear Sir: We haven’t met but my father knew you and spoke of you often, implying an intimacy on which I perhaps presume. Soon now I too must make a more formal visit, just as he knocked, seemingly sure of being received. I enclose a book I have written. It’s mostly questions he, perhaps, could answer. He once believed we might communicate. Are there provisions? If so, would you pass it on to him? If not, I beg you to forgive the intrusion. We are uncertain of the protocol. The thought, whatever the form, is all of courtesy, and in the hope of hearing from him again. Till which, with your permission, I remain etc., and for a while his son and in some sense I suppose yours also-- John.
The third of “Four Poems,” published in the fall, 1988, issue of the literary quarterly New Letters, 5216 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Mo. 64110. Miller Williams, who was John Ciardi’s close friend and publisher is now literary executor of the estate, writes by way of preface: “When John Ciardi died on Easter Sunday, 1986, he left thousands of pages of poetry in manuscript. Two years of reading and sorting have been rewarded by a surprising number of finished poems, a selection from which will be published the week of Easter, 1989, by the University of Arkansas Press. Among these, the most lyrical and moving of any Ciardi wrote, are four about the God the poet quarreled with for most of his life, wondering, complaining, loving, and denying. If some irony is found in Ciardi’s Easter death, it takes on a touching rightness in the light of these poems.”