Monday, January 28, 2013

Poets always bleed

(for David Shapiro)

He was the undergrad in the photograph
The New York Times printed,
The boy, seated behind the president’s desk
With cigar firmly planted in his mouth,
Who I would have met had I let
My best friend talk me into going to the protest
That cool April in 68 when I chickened out
Before the storm troopers came
Beating up protestors on national TV,
The truly famous poet I got to know
Many years later when William Paterson
Was still a college and he hid out in the art
Building, and I, a late-comer street kid
Tried as campus literary editor to lure
A few poems I could publish
He, later, sneaking me poems after I
Started by own underground newspaper,
Providing me with legitimacy
My friendship with Ginsberg could,
And  no High school drop out
Like me deserved,
He and I meeting all these years later
In that East Village café, mysterious
Survivors of a generational change,
He admiring me for being what I was
Almost as much as I admired him,
Both of us coming to art from different places
Me from the street, he from Columbia’s ivory tower,
Both of us coming to understand
That in the end, poets always bleed.

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