Poet. Writer. Earthling.

February 2024


On January 1, our world lost a brilliant writer and seer. I lost a friend. A year older than I, and already a connoisseur of music, movies, and literature, Jack O’Connell took me under his wing at Holy Cross in 1978. He knew all the local bars and diners and was blessed with both a generous spirit and a car. During those formative years, Jack made the riotous times more fun, and some painful events survivable. 


Shortly after graduation, Jack married the love of his life, and I married mine, one of his friends. In the ensuing years, while working and raising a family, Jack published five novels, receiving two book awards, and placing as a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. Yearning to communicate with him last month, I latched onto his third novel, “The Skin Palace.” Wow. Jack could set a scene, build a character, and conjure a noir universe like no one else! I could almost hear his voice, and his laugh, as I read. Such comfort!


A few years ago, when I resumed writing creatively, Jack offered encouragement and support. He read a poem at my book launch, and most recently, he and his wife, and a few other dear friends, attended my New England Poetry Club reading at Fruitlands Museum. We were all in good spirits that day, looking forward to Thanksgiving with our families, and delighting in the moment. I cherish that afternoon as the closing memory to our rich, earthly friendship.


RIP, dear Jack. See you on the other side.


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