Poem for Bob Kaufman / by : Allan Graubard

Poem for Bob Kaufman

I hear you now
tracing the star
that burns on your forehead
with your delicate fingers
and watery eyes

You who spoke softly
through the gritty glistening light

Kaufman alleys collapsing in tandem
with their green felt thighs
and quick lilting sighs

Kaufman whorls of moon-baked lesions
in lost migrations

Kaufman stalls of cheap Chinese lace
where White widows
bought stained remnants of memory and hiccups

Kaufman corners with nowhere to go
but down underground
where shadow arsonists dealt forensic guilt

Kaufman kitchens dripping vodka toads and willowy spirochete

Kaufman reborn in mumbled coffees
and old renegade shaving brushes

Kaufman startled by a simple kindness
in an elfin hole of empire despair

I hear you rinsing words with alchemic mercury
you who never sought anything more
than poetic revenge
on loss and endless empty regret

I hear you shuffling
through licorice walls and polyrhythmic cantons
between brilliant bestial tricycles and wintry twig nests
between this port and that pencil
this whip and that staggering drunk barber
this dead filly and that ringing ringworm attack
from here and then and then before that

Kaufman whose friendship I always intuited
in the aftergrace of sempiternal failure

whose sweet distorted face flashed
across a cotton sky
that moans beneath the Golden Gate
invisible invincible in fog voltaics
in serendipitous chapters torn from bleeding bones
of Afric stone demons

because I need you at 16, 36 and 50
because I shuddered in jazz epiphanies Slugs 1966
because I sipped udderous noumenons
in royal Roman witch grass
because I wrote fast and thought slow
because in you, so fleeting
in your knick-knack ricochet tantrums
I saw a tear crest into crystal diode
because tonight, spring 08
Manhattan folly again I hear you
tracing the star
that burns on your forehead

— Allan Graubard
New York, May 2008


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