San Francisco Poetry Slam
All I ever knew of San Francisco was that my
Montana cowboss grandpa
used to have his shirts tailor-made—
pearl snaps, fit and trim and neat
by a China man named Sing Kee,
and that the Cow Palace was one hell of a rodeo.
Now, I know how town dogs howl
when their coyote blood runs too wild,
know what the city night looks like
from the low, smooth windows
of a too-long, black, cool limo.
I have viewed those blond ladies
chained to neon doorways
flashing “nude” “nude” “nude.”
And I have seen gay men ride their lovers
piggyback on street corners at 2 a.m.
Phallic fireman monuments, golden gates,
inhaled mariachi, midget trumpets,
Cuban tamales, seaside oysters,
a bit of whiskey mixed in with
too many, too-straight streets,
and reveled in the gentling
of a true friend.
brash, true, uncompromising pure
voiced in the body of a black woman,
in the song of her poetic man,
in the language of a beauty
cloaked in Quasimodo/Cinderella rags,
and the insightful conversations
of her inauspicious companion.
Grabass poetry so good that even I
would hang by my chin from a half-open
big town Laundromat windowpane
to hear that which would
blow through my brain,
wash down the traffic
inside my psyche