William Taylor Jr.

A Reprieve

It’s the plague times, California’s on fire
and most everything you can name
has gone to shit.

Each day we wake to learn how easily
200 and some odd years of more
or less democracy can be dismantled 
like a makeshift stage by a television 
con man, his assemblage of toadies
and an indifferent population.

The days are are dreary, nebulous
and each the same.

But Jon comes by in his old car like some
broken saint and he takes us 
to North Beach where the sidewalk cafes 
are just opening again after months 
of being shuttered.

We sit outside Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store 
across from Washington Square Park
drinking wine and beer and the world 
feels nearly right again.

The air is filled with good talk and laughter
as we look at the girls and shoot shit about the poets
and you can imagine the neighborhood 

how it was back when Kerouac got dead 
drunk in the alley that now bears his name
and Brautigan sat in the park with a jug 
of wine and one of his pretty girlfriends.

It feels like the day after the end of a war
and the giant sky and the lazy sun
and the people alive beneath it all miracles 
you thought you’d never see again

but in truth the war’s just gearing up
and the afternoon just a quick gift of light, 
a tease to give us something to maybe 
remember or fight for, and me and Jon 
we’re like prisoners on a holiday sucking 
it all in as best we can before everything 
goes dark again.

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