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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or more Allen Cohen Poetry on sfheart.com