Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ode to Krakow While Thinking of Ryan Graham Deceased

Sometime in the early hours of February 27th 2009, my best friend's cousin died suddenly in San Francisco, California. He was 24 years old.

Ryan Graham was more like my best friend Brian's little brother. I last saw him in Krakow, Poland in summer 2008, where Brian had immigrated in 2007. Ryan and I had a mini-falling out in the Eastern European humidity over something pointless when we were both visiting Brian. Two embarrassingly bombastic types throwing jibes and insults over dry Sacher torte and Tyskie Beer. He and Brian had just comeback from Croatia and a series of family drama fueled adventures inspired by Ryan's endless amount of energy and ceaseless will to party round the clock.

Ryan was a sous chef, the child of a single mother who'd left an abusive husband when Ryan was little. Ryan spent his last day alive fighting against the aggression of those less openhearted than he was.

Ryan was really funny. Is really funny. I still hear all his animated expressions and snappy rejoinders. His jokes were NEVER mean. Great sense of humor and always full of energy...I don't think I ever saw him frown.

[Above]Ryan came to visit Brian in Krakow in May 2008 and he thought he'd treat him to a haircut, Polish style, on the balcony of the apartment in which Brian was living.]

Friends of mine had become his best friends. Every one had seen him on an upswing in his life lately. He and Brian, both being half Jewish, had gone to Auschwitz in May. I did not get a chance to say goodbye to him. I had wanted to write him on MySpace, let bygones be bygones, and suggest that he become chef in Sonoma/Napa, where the recession was not hitting cooking jobs as hard as in Frisco. The Wine country is quiet but it has a good effect on people. I thought he'd mellow out and "get on back to Grass roots" as the Freak Brothers comics say. The inner Bay Area is not a particularly nice place these days.

I had recently heard that he had been doing great so I decided to wait until Brian's wedding or some other event so being friendly again wouldn't seem like such a big deal. I of course wish I had not waited but I know he was not an intrinsically begrudging person. Years ago, I lost a brother who was a lot like Ryan and only 25. It shocks me to think of my best friend and his sister losing there brother. Ryan was animated enough to leave enough memories for many lifetimes. We have that intact.

This poem was inspired by Jim Morrison's eulogy to Brian Jones from 1969.

Ode to Krakow While Thinking of Ryan Graham Deceased

A lady born in 1922
Survived the Holocaust
Abandoned in Piedmont
Door ajar for five years
Tax liens on St. Mary's Basilica

I've been chosen to
The song of the Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion

Poor Rosa Luxemburg

All your friends you never saw
off on the tram
Crowding around Oświęcim
while their candles burned down

Return so we can wire you
Hit the floor
in the Kazimierz instead

Writhing Alameda Beach filth sculptures
Should have been the
driftwood ones by Emeryville, Vistula
the ones that don't fall out
and knife you by
the flea market
hole in the fence entrance

You've left us your
wife beater vest
To compete with
I hope you went out knowing
like a Reform rabbi

A young man
with East Bay silt
coating his arms
and hands
Finally free to
move about
the flyover states

The Intrinsic Liquidation Committee


Red hair blushed,
in freckles

Main Market Square

The police, the floor
the wallets

You were fighting
the Piedmont Pennywise

You were the burnt
for Nowa Huta mall high noons

Organic altarpieces
Traveler of Columbia

Look now where it's got

in Carpathian heaven
with the sculptors
and the Chasidics

The handyman
The body, royal, pipe down

Lucky got owned
What is this
Cracovian Calendar
You're made of

don't poke holes in Rosa's

Will he fear
Pushed heavenward
Thru the halls of
one love

Requiem for a Neverwait
That smile
That Golden Years
has leaped upward

into the Aron Kodesh


Blogger Beth said...

Thank you so much...I am Ryan's aunt, his mother Sue's sister. We will always remember Ryan's beautiful spirit-he's one of those stars shining down on us on this sorrowful night, along with the crescent moon...

3:53 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Im sorry for your lose. *hugs*

5:59 AM  
Blogger par.nordstrom said...

´...And we are here as on a darkling plain/
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight /
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
(Matthew Arnold , ´Dover Beach ´. )

Amanda, although I never met Ryan, I have been sharing your grief this day . Please forward my condolences to Brian and his family.
Thinking of you all !

6:02 PM  
Blogger _sand said...

hello, my name is marcus. i met ryan in san francisco and ended up going overseas with him. i was curious to see if you know how i can get in contact with his family or anyone who could tell me what happened. it's unfortunate we parted on less than amicable terms and hadn't talked in person since. this is very sudden, bad news. my heart goes out to you, his family, and anyone else that knew him.

9:20 AM  
Blogger grace said...

Amanda, I am so sorry to hear of your friend.

I send my thoughts and prayers

5:50 PM  
Blogger Mandie said...

There are many of us that grew up with and went to school with Ryan that know he died, but we don't have any answers as to why or how.

There hasn't been an obituary yet, and everyone is confused and upset.

Can you answer any of these questions?

12:56 PM  
Blogger Amanda and SuperAmanda said...

Hi Mandie,

We all are upset, it is so shocking and sudden. We are all of us waiting to find out exactly what happened. You can contact me through my space (link is on my blog links) and I can assist you further.


5:43 PM  
Blogger scooby said...

Ryan is one of the best friends that i ever had his heart is just as big as his smile. i miss ya budy

8:33 PM  
Blogger scooby said...

Ryan was a awsome haearted idividual for sure. His friendship that he gave to me means buches to me as he had also spoken to me about the same feelings. love ya buddy.


your bromie

8:43 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

i found this article while searching for ryan on the internet in order to reconnect with him. i cant believe i found this article but there is no question that this is the ryan that i befriended while traveling in amsterdam.

i just want to give my condolences to ryans family and share my experience with ryan. ryan was a vibrant person and we became friends fast after meeting in a hostel near the van gogh museum in amsterdam in 2007. we partied together for the 5 days we were both in amsterdam and became pretty damn close for 2 people who at first site are very different from each other. i am indian and was born and raised in los angeles by my parents who have had a very loving relationship for the past 35 yrs. ryan mentioned a few times he had a tough childhood but i never really questioned him about it. we had a great time in amsterdam doin what people do in amsterdam and i just really appreciate that i was able to have gotten to know ryan.

well i just really regret losing touch with him. we had tried to meet up in LA or San Fran but it never came to fruition for one reason or another. i just want to say to ryans family and friends that there is a lot of people that you know of and dont know of who are thinkin of ryan and he will not be forgotten. for me personally my trip to amsterdam was one of the greatest times in my life and it def would not have been as fun if i had not met ryan and i will never forget it.

take care ryan i know you are in a better place. i will see you when my time comes.

if anyone would like to contact me my email is

12:22 PM  

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