A Writing on the Net SO
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Dedication to Joe DiCarlo
By Frank Sisco
Copyright 2000 Frank Sisco
A dedication of the SeniorMusings.com website (a website of writings by and about people over 60) to Joe DiCarlo, gifted writer and artist (6/20/2000)
In another part of this website called SeniorMusings.com, I've co-written, along with his sister Norine, a biography about Joe DiCarlo, to whom this website is dedicated and in part inspired by. To help write another person's bio is indeed a privilege, but also an imposing duty. A responsibility to do justice to that person's individuality. And to recognize their mind, heart, and soul. For what else are we but these ephemeral things which then stir us to love each other, care for one another and see God in another person's eyes or hear the heavens in their voice or feel the angels in their touch. Joe DiCarlo has that magic to stir us.
When I visited him on a Saturday evening in June, 2000, I was amazed that I was not freaked by what I saw. The very well-spoken, brilliant writer I knew from open-mike nights at Encore Book Store in Scarsdale 5 years earlier now stood before me grunting out Yeses and Nos, and occasionally another simple word. To communicate, he would answer Yes or No to a question, and his gestures and facial expressions would communicate intensity and feelings. Joe's 90-year-old mother was wonderfully helpful, helping to fill in the gaps based on what she felt would be what Joe would say. After fetching Joe pad and pencil, he painstakingly etched out a few words on a pad to augment the communication. I knew he had had a stroke and was left with what doctors call "expressive aphasia," an inability to speak, and right-sided hemiparesis, which is a weakness of his right leg and paralysis of his right hand. To see him like this should be freaking me out, but it wasn't, as I'll explain why later.
One night I was speaking with Joe's mother and sister, Norine, on the telephone and the next night I was at Joe's mother's house picking up some of his writings to upload to a website devoted to seniors who are 60 or over. I was in awe of the love and support his 90-year-old mother and two sisters showed.
Resonating in my head was the odd coincidence of Joe's upcoming 60th birthday on June 20, 2000 with the week I planned to officially launch the SeniorMusings.com website focused on people 60 and over. Not spooky but foretelling in a soulful way.

I think Joe's several writings on the SeniorMusings website will bring the website to a recognition level that it ordinarily would not have attained as quickly. Moreover, I think the internet presence of a writer like Joe will show off the ability of the internet and the sensitivity of its users to spread good words quickly and far-reachingly. Writers and readers both benefit - and big time.
Joe's words have the power to stir mind, heart and soul, like very few other writers. And in years past, his delivery of those words would shake whatever sleepiness or complacency might be hanging around your gray matter. When Joe recited his poetry at the various bookstores on open-mike night which we toured, all eyes and ears were on him in order to catch the human dreams which he described so eloquently and we all knew were still in us, even though sometimes in a dormant state. He would spit out well-turned phrases like a machine gun, and better than top rappers of our day. In rapid succession, the gorgeous words would hit you between the eyes and invade your brain, which enjoyed the attack and readied itself for continued onslaught. If you happened to be a little tired, you immediately woke in rapt attention. If you were drifting during the recitations of other poets, you quickly were brought back into focus. If you prejudged the topic Joe was dealing with, you very soon understood his point of view. You would look around and see that other listeners were affected the same way. The audience members melded into each other, transfixed on his words and understanding his point of view, even if it was controversial or revolutionary. There were always "ah ha's" or "mmph's" and very few distracting coughs or sneezes. Everybody was focused on Joe DiCarlo who was at center stage at those Encore open-mike nights, and at the other places we would visit as a troupe of touring poets on the town to spill our guts to those who'd catch them.
Anyway, I figured out now why I wasn't so freaked by seeing Joe in this silenced and curtailed state. I realized why when I saw next to him one of his recent paintings done with his good left hand. Haunting, and like a magnet pulling me in. Looking at this remarkable representation of two faces, staring at me, I had a feeling of how it must have been for Leonardo DaVinci's friend to view DaVinci's famous portrait of the smiling woman as the painting neared completion. The friend must have known that someday millions of people would view the painting, star struck. How magnificent it was. That's how I saw Joe's painting, and that's why I was not blown away by his physical condition of near-silence and how sharply it contrasted with the rapid-fire reciting of the Joe of Encore Book Store. Because I suddenly knew, without a doubt, that he would use his prolific creativity to share with the world in visuals for the time being until his ability to share in audio came back. He would, at least for now, appeal to our eyes instead of our ears. He would paint for now while he could not recite. And funny thing, I knew then very confidently that I would hear him in full voice soon, and I would once again be able to drink in his wonderful words. And in the interlude I, with the rest of the world, would be given a feast for our eyes.
Later that evening, I told Joe this was his test. That God for some reason was giving him this test of coping with his near-silence. He smiled, and his eyes told me the hundreds of words he couldn't speak. We both knew his current condition would one day end.
And so on this website called Senior Musings.com, you will be able not only to read Joe's writings but also hear Joe recite them as he did at Encore Book Store a few years ago, with the passion and compassion that are his trademarks. Luckily, I taperecorded many of the Encore readings, and with the magic of the internet can bring them to life again on this website. My hope is that somehow, just maybe, if enough people read and listen to Joe's writings, and reflect on the writings, these people will be stirred, and these stirrings will vibrate the airwaves, and, coupled with the attention and love of others and their prayers, somehow these writings, coming alive again, along with God's grace, will trigger Joe to speak again, and at full throttle.