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.