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Empty Seat is a threnody written by Anthony J Fuchs in memory of Iain Gilbert.

The poem was published in the November 1997 edition of the Hatboro-Horsham High School student newspaper, The Hat Chat.

A heavily revised version appeared in Fuchs' 2012 debut novel The Danger of Being Me.

1997 textEdit

Five rows back and three rows in resides an empty seat.
I never really noticed it, I never had to greet
the chilling orange surface that stared into my eyes.
The image that invoked in me this terror and surprise.
How could this have happened here, to one so young and kind?
He never had the chance to let life mold and shape his mind.
He'll never think his deepest thoughts; no words he'll ever say,
Because a tragic accident has taken him away.
I sit here now in lonely pain, and gaze upon that chair
and think of all the things that prove his parting wasn't fair.
I cannot help to stop myself, to take a second pause
to see that chair and all it means, and now I know, because
five rows back and three rows in resides an empty chair
and the greatest man that ever lived once sat and listened there.

2012 textEdit

Four rows back and eight rows in is an empty fuckin chair.
I didn't see it yesterday because it wasn't there.
Its raging orange surface screams and rapes my weary eyes
with barren purgatory glee, with terror and surprise.
This madness shouldn't happen here to such a brilliant mind
`cause now he'll never get to live the Life that he designed.

How can this fraying world survive in this young prophet's wake?
Can we persist when everything so easily can break?
There's no more deep, insightful thoughts and no more words to say;
A senseless fucking tragedy has taken him away.
I see an unimagined pain in that empty fuckin chair
and think of all the things that prove his parting isn't fair.

I flip the yellowed pages of that mental catalogue,
and I find the oldest memory; that early dialogue
between two boys, just twelve years old, was all that got me through
that frigid Winter morning back in 1992.
His smooth and fluid Scottish brogue had fascinated me,
and he was captivated by my baseball faculty.

I think of all the knowledge that will now remain unfound,
and the depth of boundless wisdom that would have been profound.
I think of all the women that he'll never learn to love
and how they lost the chance to know this man they're dreaming of.
I think of all the best laid plans that rapidly dissolve
and how this greatest story could so terribly resolve.

I couldn't guess what lies ahead, or if a world exists
where those who conquer Death will meet, and where the mind persists.
I'm searching for a language that might properly convey
my hope, my wish, my need to hope that I'll find a fuckin way
to step across that Mythic Brink, and find him waiting there.
But I just can't make myself believe when that fuckin seat is bare.

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