Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cleaving Japantown

The Kinokuniya Bookstore
—for Winston Leyland

The young poet Antler
met Rexroth at the Milwaukee
home of Morgan Gibson…”
—Linda Hamalian, A Life:
Kenneth Rexroth

The same thing—happened to me
When I was in Japantown—last weekend
Taking a walk down the Hill—from Pacific Heights
I met myself—in the Kinokuniya Bookstore

I met my Other—the Poet
The Poet from—thirty years earlier
Who published a book—called Chicken (1979)
By Gay Sunshine Press—in San Francisco

The smell of eucalyptus—was the same
The Golden Gate Bridge—the view from the Hill
The smell of clean ocean air—from the Bay
Strolling thru Lafayette Park—that afternoon

Funny how nothing’s changed—except me
Bringing memories back—now in 2009
Earlier times—during the SF Gay Renaissance
Giving readings—the Bookstore & the Castro

Finding myself standing—this fragrant afternoon
By the Kinokuniya Bookstore—in Japantown
My favorite haunt—whenever I visited SF
Staying at the Miyako Inn—enjoying sushi

The Bowling Alley—long gone now
The soothing sounds—muffled balls and pins
As I drank tea—and cruised all the cute
Young Japanese boys after school…

Funny how things—come and go
Literary Renaissances—smooth and fast
Like schools of salmon—shooting up the
Rapids of one’s—time-spiraling mind…

There I was—in Japantown USA
Looking at myself—in the store window
Of the Kinokuniya Bookstore—much as
Antler contemplated—Kenneth Rexroth

“It was as if he—were slowly falling asleep
Sitting in that chair—while everyone at the
Party asked him questions—suddenly
Wondering if someday I’d be bard too”

I stood there—in front of Kinokuniya
Tilting back my head—for a minute or two
Pretending to doze—my eyelids closed
Empty with no questions—to ask myself

Other than seeing—myself dead
Deader than a doornail—in a coffin or
Stuffed in a vase—in a mausoleum
Maybe ashes tossed—into Elliott Bay

Nobody would say—nodding knowingly
A great poet has died—we’ll miss him
And so will—the great Male Muse up
There on gay Olympus—weeping tears!!!

Hardly my dear—let’s get real…
What’s standing there—in the Kinokuniya
Bookstore window—isn’t a Whitman or
Kenneth Rexroth—or Hart Crane

I’m not one of them—I never was
I never could be—I don’t want to be
Sleek salmon no longer—shoot the rapids
Of my once—sharp transgressive mind

Stonewall came and went—just like that
The bay bookstores—have all gone kaput
Proposition Hate—continues to disenchant
With Mormon glee—POTUS Palin smirks

Sam Hamill—Rexroth’s Zen Brother
Continues to rally—all the Antiwar Poets
Refuses to take Tea—in the Rose Garden
Chaney the Troll—Snarks under the Bridge

All my gay friends—are gone now
They’ve all gone straight—mainstreamed
By Metrosexual—Metropolis USA
I’m just a lowly Zit—of the Zeitgeist

Standing here now—in Japantown
In front of the—Kinokuniya Bookstore
What do I know now—I didn’t know then
Like Rexroth—should I be a Buddhist?

Literary movements—not important now
My bowel movement—more soup du jour
I hear rats in the—yellowing wainscoting
Of my fading—Miss Havisham mind…

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