San Francisco Beat

©2003 Bob Kaufman
Hidden in the eye of jazz
Secretly balling, against time
I see cabbage eye, malignant successes,
Eating plastic ball-shaped benzedrines,
Hiding in the windows of empty doghouses,
Among limb shops, selling breast,
To rookie policemen.

Jazz cops with ivory nightsticks,
Leaning on the heads of imitation Negroes,
Selling ice cubes to returned virgins,
Wrapping velvet Band-aids, over holes
In the arms of heaven-headed junkies.

Hawkeyed baggy-pants businessmen,
Building earthquake-proof, aluminum whorehouses,
Guaranteeing satisfaction to pinstripe murderers,
Or your money back to West Haven,
Full of glorious, Caesarean-section politicians,
Giving kisses to round half-lipped babies,
Eating metal jazz, from cavities, in father’s chest,
Purchased in flagpole war, to leave balloon-chested
Unfreaked Reader’s Digest women grinning at Coit Tower.

Dripping harmless flagellations on the scary backs
Of graduate celibates selling polka-dot diaphragms
To gay young monsters drowning in flower gutters
Of timely discussions on telemothervisionfather,
Gradually sucking the heads of littlesmallbig people,
Into cathode obedience, demanding all onions
For one flyspeck of love I keep hidden,
In my webbed feet,
Out of Step.

African Dream

©2003 Bob Kaufman
In black core of night, it explodes
Silver thunder, rolling back my brain,
Bursting copper screens, memory worlds
Deep in star-fed beds of time,
Seducing my soul to diamond fires of night.
Faint outline, a ship—momentary fright
Lifted on waves of color,
Sunk in pits of light,
Drummed back through time,
Hummed back through mind,
Drumming, cracking the night.
Strange forest songs, skin sounds
Crashing through—no longer strange.
Incestuous yellow flowers tearing
Magic from the earth.
Moon-dipped rituals, led
By a scarlet god,
Caressed by ebony maidens
With daylight eyes,
Purple garments,
Noses that twitch,
Singing young girl songs
Of an ancient love
In dark, sunless places
Where memories are sealed,
Burned in the eyes of tigers.

Suddenly wise, I fight the dream:
Green screams enfold my night.

To My Son Parker, Asleep in the Next Room

©2003 Bob Kaufman
On ochre walls in ice-formed caves shaggy Neanderthals
            marked their place in time.
On germinal trees in equatorial stands embryonic giants
            carved beginnings.
On Tasmanian flatlands mud-clothed first men hacked rock,
            still soft.
On Melanesian mountain peaks barked heads were reared
            in pride and beauty.
On steamy Java’s cooling lava stooped humans raised stones
            to altar height.
On newborn China’s plain mythless sons of Han acquired
            peaked gods with teak faces.
On holy India’s sacred soil future gods carved worshipped
On Coptic Ethiopia’s pimple rock pyramid builders tore
            volcanoes from earth.
On death-loving Egypt’s godly sands living sacrifices carved
            naked power.
On Sumeria’s cliffs speechless artists gouged messages
            to men yet uncreated.
On glorious Assyria’s earthen dens art priests chipped
            figures of awe and hidden dimensions.
On splendored Peru’s gold-stained body filigreed temples
            were torn from severed hands.
On perfect Greece’s bloody sites marble stirred
            under hands of men.
On degenerate Rome’s trembling sod imitators sculpted lies
            into beauty.
[click to view introduction]