I met him once, at City Lights, of course. He was a stone cold gentleman. He let me go smoke weed on the roof of the store, because of course he did, and he gave me a book they’d published of the same poem, entitled ‘Irish’ translated into English from the German by 30 different poets. Rest in power, Lawrence.
Alas WordPress won’t accommodate the line lengths and spacing of the original.
There is a bookshop in the memory of America
A shop of books and everyone’s uncle
singing Woodie Guthrie
and speaking poems from memory
in a bookshop in the memoryof America.
Among everyone’s favourite places,
in the secret speakeasies
with the best cocktails,
over dumplings at the family-run restaurant
by California and Grant,
swanking at the Tonga Room,
dancing at the party in Cole Valley Heights
that everyone called the Haight, stoned, laughing,
is a private place, a lovesong, a melody
of verse, all the bookpages turning,
those dangerous books about fucking
in the memory of America.
In a private place
belonging to everyone
in the memory of America,
everyone’s adopted granddad
might hand you a book, say
“Read this” and you would,
or quote Yeats,
or clasp your hand,
cold but warm, thank
you for coming, thank you for listening,
thank you for being there.
Who now will remember the poems
for us, who will be the memory of America,
a century long, now you’ve joined i genitori perduti,
as the world sighs by
like frightened lost kids on a road none of us recognise any longer.