Image by Emma Hanson

Poem introduction

'Impossible to Tell' is an elegy for my friend, Elliot Gilbert, who loved telling jokes and knew a million of them. And at about the same time Elliot died through the blunder the doctors made, they made a mistake, they didn't detect their mistake and then they lied about their mistake - that was the end of Elliot. At about the same time that we in Berkeley were grieving that, my friend Bob Hass was finishing his wonderful anthology of haikus. And I was reading Bob's introduction which really made me understand haikus for the first time - among other things it's part of a social evening, part of a longer renga, a collaborative form where people inspire one another to contribute stanzas. This is what people do who tell jokes 'Impossible to Tell' - to Robert Hass and in memory of Elliot Gilbert.

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