The Mystery of Weldon Kees




Being born on February 24, 1914 Harry Weldon Kees (more prominently known as just “Weldon Kees”) was an interesting man, to say the least. Having undertook various job descriptions and skills over the entirety of his life, he was a rare and unique person. His poetry was pure beauty and pure emotion. His art conveyed a depth of meaning that I, myself, did not realize was alive in the world. He was even a jazz pianist. I can relate to him in a very strange way because I write poetry, I paint and I play piano. Those similarities allow me to see a deeper meaning in the things he wrote and he produced. 

One of his poems, The Climate of Danger, goes:

"The middle is the place to stand If there can be one solid spot / Undoubted / in that damaged land..."

His thoughts were very nomadic in nature, and he often spoke of suicide in his work. 

Before his disappearance, he had spoken to friends about either starting a new life in Mexico or killing himself. In 1955, his car was found parked on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with the keys still in the ignition. It has been assumed from thereon that Harry had killed himself. It should also be noted that he left with a sleeping bag and his savings account book and that he left no suicide note, if he did indeed kill himself. His friends, upon returning to his apartment found only his cat and socks in the sink. I’ve thought that perhaps those socks produce some meaning that was overlooked by others. And why would a suicidal man take a sleeping bag with him? My thoughts are that he intended to travel a bit and needed something for warmth. Perhaps he took the savings account book with him to keep track of his money. He was a man that was very hard to tie down, and he couldn’t stay in one place too long. That’s why I think it was more likely that he traveled someplace else, maybe not even to Mexico. Maybe somewhere cold, perhaps that’s why he needed a sleeping bag. In my experience, when someone is close to killing themselves or thinking about it, they begin to give things away, so why would he leave his cat there if he was not absolutely sure that someone would eventually find it? 

There was also no body ever recovered,but you would think that at least remnants would show up in the water. And what became of the sleeping bag he had with him? I think the police were too quick to assume it was suicide, and not look into other explanations. I think that Weldon Kees deliberately staged his own death because what could be more poetic than disappearing into thin air? 

Regardless of what happened to him, his work will always live on and I think that is the most important takeaway.