Rest In Poetry Paul Sexton

by September 13, 2021 4 comments

Last week we learned that the poetry world lost a near & dear Mad Swirler, Paul Sexton. The shock of his passing is still reverberating and has yet to fully sink in. The brevity of knowing we will no longer hear Paul’s signature voice, emoting his pain, his anger, his joy, his rawness thru his poetry. No longer will we see Paul sitting at the bar, early as always, on a 1st Wednesday, waiting for us to set the stage for the night. No longer will we see Paul’s poetry submissions in our inbox, excited to read his latest works. The thick shouldered, bigger-than-life physical presence that was Paul Sexton has exited the stage, but Paul’s essence will always be swirling madly in our Mad Swirl world.

We first met Paul back in 2005-ish, when we were still finding our feet, green at hosting an open mic. We visited some local scenes, hoping to find some kindred spirits. At one of those scenes we found Paul and Opalina Salas hosting an open mic in Oak Cliff (Suenos Sabrosos, A reading in Red). Immediately we were drawn in like many of the others we met there that were attracted to Paul’s magnetism. Thanks to Paul, we met many of the local poets we still know and love today. From that moment in that quant little ice cream shop, our world’s came together and I knew Paul would be in our Swirl world for years to come.

Paul started coming to our open mics soon after that first meeting. When retelling the story of our meeting, I always called Paul the Pied Piper of Poets (he hated that, by the way). What I was trying to say is that when Paul started attending our open mics, it gave us credibility and other poets and performers started attending regularly. We will always be indebted to Paul for that. He will always be interwoven into our open mic story of inception.

In March of 2008 Paul first submitted his work to, where he has been a Contributing Poet ever since. We’ve featured over 30 of Paul’s poems (read them all here). Each piece unique to Paul’s style, tough and hard exteriors with tender and soft insides. His words coming to life, feeling Paul’s voice coming thru these electronic pages. The first piece of Paul’s that we accepted I’d heard that first night at Suenos Sabrosos. That poem is “Spiritus Veritas”

I just want something real,
he said
I just want something real,
he said.

This common experience.
This shared suffering.
This birth into tragedy that
has shaped us so.
Demented us so.
Made us artist.
Let our spirits soar.
I just want the real experience now.
The authentic.
I suffer for it.
I await it.
I yearn for it.
This is the truth I toss about in
meandering lines.
We are in a space outside the tribe.
We are the neurotic episode.
We are heaven’s offerings unto the dirt.

I don’t want
the ones who hide from it
wearing the hiding
like a mask.
I don’t want the ones who
fester in it
wearing the festering
like a mask.

Let us transcend it.
Let us overcome it.
Let us be all at once above it.
Let us enlighten ourselves with
the healing of it.
Let our spirits sing.
Let our words be divine.
Let us be more,
more and more and more
than the circumstance of it.

Faith faith faith faith
faith faith faith faith.
Goodbye to being,
hello becoming.

I just want something real,
he said.
I just want something real,
he said.

I’m not sure what I want
she said.
Something altogether different.
I think.
Come and be
with me.

I guess what I am trying to say is that Paul may be gone but his poetic legacy lives on, and will continue to, well beyond his passing last week. Paul has left us with books, thousands of poems, countless memories. Although there is a big hole in the local and global poetry scene, Paul’s presence and essence will continue to linger on in the hearts that knew him. “Goodbye to being, hello becoming.”

RIP Paul

Comments 4

  1. Sanjeev Sethi

    I read the obituary on Paul Sexton with dismay.
    I have been following his work and been an admirer of his words.
    I salute him for his poetic presence and wish him eternal peace.

    Thank you, Johnny Olson, for keying such a touching piece.

    In grief,
    Sanjeev Sethi

  2. oxe57

    I met Paul years ago at a coffee house in Arlington, Texas called Mochalux. Every Saturday night Paul would be there setting the tone for an eclectic group of people who loved him dearly. I remember no one would ever want to go first so I would always get things started. Paul got a kick out of that. He would automatically call me to the stage before anyone else. Rest in peace old friend. If there is an open mike in heaven I know you’ll be the host.

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