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James Langford

James Langford

James Langford first met Tom at one of the first public poetry events at Georgia Tech, and he asked to sit in on Tom’s undergraduate poetry classes–which he did for an entire term. The two became close friends, and Jim introduced Tom to parts of rural Northwest Georgia, where they investigated archaeology sites and went target shooting together. With Tom’s encouragement, Jim attended three summer sessions of the poetry program at Sarah Lawrence College. Jim is the founder of several technology companies, non-profit organizations and public interest initiatives. A native of Calhoun, Georgia, he earned his undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Georgia and his master’s degree from Harvard Business School.

Special Moments with Tom

I was privileged to share many fun moments with Tom. And I suppose it was also a privilege to share one of his moments of deepest despair: the game seven Red Sox loss to the Yankees in the ACLS game of 2003. We ate dinner early that night and settled into his loft library with appropriate libations and other ritual offerings to the baseball gods. Boston built a lead of 4-0 by the fifth inning and was still leading 5-2 in the eighth. As the game evolved, Tom was ecstatic and animated. Then pacing and cursing. Later, grumbling and cursing. Then, red-faced, venomous and cursing, and spittle-specked. After the bottom of the 11th inning, he seemed suicidal and yet was still cursing. I was a little nervous about leaving him alone that night. But I knew that he needed grieving time. Guys know when to leave other guys alone.

On the other end of the sad-happy spectrum, my wife and I went to Tom and Jenny's wedding in Connecticut in 2012. My wife, also named Jenny, and I ate dinner with them on their wedding night. He was clearly very happy that day. If a man can be radiant, he was all that. The two Jennys are very close friends, but it could be a little confusing when Tom and I referred to them. So, Tom would say "my Jenny" or "your Jenny" depending on the context, and I would mirror those references. We enjoyed the banter. He would always close any discussion about our wives by saying, "We are two lucky dudes."

A Clearing, a Meadow, in Deep Forest

One lies down in the meadow, one hears the insect saw and gnaw
in the grass, and above, one hears
some music from childhood, sees a barn swallow diving.
One has these thoughts,
stricken. Clouds hang above the meadow's - how did
this clearing occur? - ragged
treeline. How did it happen, its edges irregular,
not cut for a field
of even rye or oats? When one first breaks
into it, the clearing,
one thinks: not large enough for a farm,
this fodder couldn't feed four cows.
One walks halfway across
and sits down, stricken. This is the place to rest,
one thinks, in the meadow's middle,
this is the place to stop
and wait for the wind, or a star, or a vole's nose
to point one on one's way.

from God Particles, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008


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