Saturday, November 7, 2015

He Steps Over Cracks—for Kenneth E. Rich, by Isis Phoenix, with a preface by Tal Nuriel, plus images from friends and a video of Ken by Allus Frank

I've met a lot of people in my life, and I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that Kenneth E. Rich was the kindest, most gentle human being I've ever met. It's hard to understand how something so awful can happen to someone so kind. I'm glad to see the outpouring of love for Ken. I have no doubt that Ken made a true and lasting impact on thousands of people while he was alive and that his memory and spirit will live on for a long long time through all of his good deeds and through all of the people that he touched.

--Tal Nuriel
(posted on Ken's Facebook page, October 11, 2015, at 1:24 pm)

A poem for my dear friend, Kenneth E. Rich. 
Rest well, dear one. 

-- Isis Phoenix

He Steps Over Cracks 

for Ken, by Isis

Dr. Kenneth E. Rich
posted on Facebook by Narisara Vanichanan
photograph: Lynne Goldfarb Leung?
October 11 2015, 8:21 am
He steps over cracks in the sidewalk
on the lower east side.
His feet shuffle a little in his tattered brown shoes,
one of the laces always undone or broken.
He steps, some steps coupled shorter
and others almost imperceptibly longer
to avoid his foot falling into a crack and oblivion?
Or worse
hurting that which births and sustains life,
his mother
and perhaps the divine one.
His fingernails are caked
and a bit jagged from the bits of trash
and sidewalk debris he gathers
as he walks. What others discard
he takes responsibility
for picking up the broken bottles and cigarette butts
Food wrappers of disownment.
He cares.
It is a quiet gesture.
He does it even though at times he is embarrassed to do it
He does it because something much larger moves through him
Picking up people’s trash.
Taking responsibility.
Seeing what others do not allow themselves to care enough to see.
He walks over cracks
And always carries a large re-usable bag
with a collection of things inside…books,
cliff bars he gives to the homeless,
receipts and bits of paper with scrawl only he understands,
maybe a sweater, a notebook …
an ipad.
He is, at times, manic, driven,
others somber and still.
He bows to people as he passes and there is
a deep quiet that rests in his system
that others perceive and are affected by
a humility, a quiet beauty like a still pond.
He is the Buddha
walking down the streets of the lower east side.
Stepping over cracks
to honor the Great Mother.

Isis Phoenix
posted on Ken's Facebook page
October 11 at 3:02am 

Kenneth E. Rich -- younger days
collage posted on Ken's Facebook page by Sonnie Hirsch Carpenter 

Kenneth E. Rich -- Senior Prom, 1982
posted by Ellen Limburg Santistevan on Ken's Facebook page, October 11, 2015, 9:05 am 

Dr. Kenneth E. Rich, with Rev-Amma Niradhari Mari,
probably at a building of the NYU (or Columbia U?) Medical Center
posted by her at Ken's Facebook page, October 10, 2015, 11:27 pm

The following is a note and a video of Ken, posted by AllUs Frank at Ken's Facebook page on October 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm.  (I have not included her invitation to join in a celebration of Ken's life October 21-27 in Brooklyn.)

Dearest Beloved Kenneth E. Rich who left his body a week ago, speaks so delicately in this video, upon reading the script of OPEN: a film about UNIAMORY .

Ken was to play the character, ' Gerald. ' He played it profoundly, and I will soo miss his doing so for all of You. I offered him the role an hour into knowing him. Uncannily perfect. Still gleeful in his saying Y E S .

Thank you,
s w e e t love .

Note:  Ken's speech is soft, labored and hesitant in this video, more than usual with him.  He is trying to speak thoughtfully, honestly and from the heart about things that are at the heart of our existence.  But the speech was difficult to follow on my computer.  If you want a child's far louder, more emphatic version of some, at least, of what Ken was struggling to express, here it is:

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