The goofiness of corporate coffee chains —
Thurs mornings’ cup before my 9am
20th century American Lit class
Always take the corner table
to sit & prepare lecture notes under large poster
of Ginsberg’s gnomic sigil of a three-tailed, one-eyed fish.
First saw his hand-drawn triune wisdom critter
when he signed my copy of Howl some
For all his celebrity Allen soon became a trusty friend.
Though seldom seen in last decades
for more than an hour’s gossip over coffee
before or after some sold-out reading
he always remembered exactly where we had left-off
instantly resuming our last conversation from mid-sentence.
When Allen once again signed my then thirty-five year old
original copy of Howl, he took ten minutes
out of a long signing line to carefully add
to his wise old fish sketch
his hand-drawn vision of Blake as Tiger
sighing the primordial mantra “Ah!”
Sanskrit Mother of All Sounds. Then asked if he
could look through my own latest notebook-sketchbook.
For all his goofiness Allen was profoundly kind.
When I sit each Thurs morning
under that rip-off corporate coffeehouse poster
with Ginsberg’s one-eyed fish peering
ever generously over my shoulder,
tears sometimes well-up, drip slowly
into my paper cup of $7 coffee,
splotch the ink & graphite of my latest notebook-sketchbook
All those poems are not enough.
* Note: I wrote this a coupla yrs ago (in one sitting without revision – “first thought, best thought”), over coffee, waiting to teach my first class of the day. Under the poster of Allen’s drawing my tears fell hot, salting my cup of coffee. Allen died all the way back in 1997, almost 20 full years ago now. A long time gone. The last few days before he died, Allen called everyone he knew to thank them and say goodbye. We had a few ancient friends in common, most of them gone now as well. Just a fortnight ago (Feb 15, 2017), Allen’s final primary Buddhist teacher, Gelek Rinpoche, also passed on, one of our last shared living personal links. Ah!