THE FUNERAL OF BOB KAUFMAN

                                                       by Allen Cohen

 

At the Cafe Trieste
            one hundred poets converge
                               with his family, friends and the press.

On the corner of Vallejo and Grant
            a Dixieland band begins to play--
                                the parade through North Beach begins.

Across Columbus and Broadway
            in the footsteps of the martyred poet--
                               through the stations of his cross.

Stopping first at City Lights
            the poet's own poems are read
                               and the poems he loved and some original poems.

The next station, Vesuvio's
            the band playing, the poets reading,
                               then across the street to Spec's,

and then to the Saloon
            these stations where the poet drank
                               and was 86d.

Then up Grant Avenue to Washington Square Park,
            the final station where the poet lay in the sun--
                               the band playing, the poems roar on.

We drive to the Marina
            where three boats wait
                               the Electra for the family and close friends,

and the Bel Canto
            for photographers and press
                               and the Wee Willie form the Peace Navy.

More Dixieland music, and the last poems--
            We board the boats
                               The sun is shining

through a few rain clouds
            that sprinkle the poet's
                               ancient rain on all of us.

We go out on a smooth ride
            Just off Aquatic Park pier
                               the boats make a circle

and the white ashes
            are shaken from the golden urn
                               into the choppy grey bay.

We throw yellow daffodils
            onto the water and a copy
                               of the silver anniversary Beatitude.

The flowers and ashes
            and the book float on the surface
                               KJAZZ is playing Charlie Parker

in memory of the dead poet
            who wrote like Bird played.
                               The boats return to the dock.

The poets are hugging each other--
            the ancient rain is falling
                               light as snowflakes.

As we drive back to North Beach
            a short, wide rainbow
                               slips like a hand into the bay.


from the book "Would You Wear My Eyes, A tribute to Bob Kaufman" (1989),
a book edited by Jack Hirschman and published by The Bob Kaufman Collective
which was formed by a group of poets artists and intellectuals after Kaufman's death.

Beatitude Poetry website dedicated toBob Kaufman

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