IN MEMORIAM - NICK HORNACK: This evening I learned that a friend passed away. Not today or yesterday, but back in February. His name was Nick Hornack, but he wrote and published under the name Alexander Renault. He was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania. He was only 38.

Nick had been a fixture on the gay literary scene for years, best known for his interviews, essays and erotica. However, in 2004 he published Walking Higher: Gay Men Write about the Deaths of Their Mothers. The book was rejected by many publishers (as most good books usually are), so he decided to self-publish. He was rewarded with much acclaim and a Lambda Book Award nomination for best anthology.

I first "met" Nick before Walking Higher was published. He had read my work in Velvet Mafia, where he was also a frequent contributor, and we became penpals by email. He interviewed me just after Better To Travel was published for his now-defunct website. We had a rollicking phone conversation about poetry, writing, Kate Bush and his love of Pat Benatar. Luckily, he got to meet her before he passed. I was honored when Nick asked to use one of my poems as a chapter header in Walking Higher. I immediately gave my permission. I remember his stories of wrangling with other writers and musicians to get permission to use pieces of their writing and music. He said Jane Siberry had agreed automatically and sent the permission herself. We both loved Jane.

Nick decided in 2005 to move to Savannah, to get away from a depressing, dead-end job in Pennsylvania. He had also broken up with a longterm partner and wanted to start a new life on the coast with his two beloved Boston terriers. I had planned to go down to Savannah and meet him, but schedules got in the way and it never happened. At the beginning of this year, he said Savannah was just not working out and he had decided to move back to Pennsylvania and would send word of his new address and email. It never came.

Our last email exchange was about a CD he had sent me -- a big compilation of Patty Griffin songs, which I adored. Without fail, there was always a CD and various news and art clippings from Nick in my mailbox every month or so. He was a music lover and we shared a passion for many of the same artists. On my desk is an envelope with a CD I had made for him...never mailed...as I awaited word of his new address. Everyday, I kept expecting an email or letter, then I got caught up in my own shit. I should have tried harder to find him...to search him out. The fact that he has been gone since February and I just found out tonight is devastating to me. This was a kind, generous man.

In honor of Nick, I'm not putting up a poem, but the lyrics to Patty Griffin's When It Don't Come Easy. I remember him telling me how moved he was by this song and the strength behind it. The lyrics now are quite haunting and appropriate. I'm playing it right now for you Nick.

When It Don't Come Easy

Red lights are flashing on the highway
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home tonight

Everywhere the waters getting rough
Your best intentions may not be enough
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home tonight

But if you breakdown, I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love, I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy

I don't know nothing except change will come
Year after year what we do is undone
Time keeps moving from a crawl to a run
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home
You're out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder
if you're walking in the wrong direction

But if you breakdown, I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love, I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy

So many things that I had before
That don't matter to me now
Tonight I cry for the love that I've lost
And the love I've never found
When the last bird falls
And the last siren sounds
Someone will say what's been said before
Some love we were looking for

But if you breakdown, I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love, I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy

Comments

jenni said…
Very sorry for your loss. But this is a wonderful tribute post. You're a good friend.
Anonymous said…
Sorry to hear about that. Walking Higher was depressing as all get out but well done.

GAV
Bill Fogle said…
I contributed one of the chapters to "Walking Higher." I miss Nick, too. He was always mailing me tarot cards and CDs. Why was there such an elongated silence in the months leading up to his accident?

Bill.

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