In a fish eye lens

Tiger’s Yawn


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

half-century ago.


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!


~ ~ ~ ~     ~ ~ ~ ~


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