Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Good Day In A Nice Place

A photo on my camera that I don't remember taking. . .

Beautiful little book framed on wine-stained bed sheets. . .

Most interesting writing is just about people walking around, wondering what they're going to do with their day and what they're gonna eat and how they're gonna pay for it. Which reminds me of most of my waking days in San Francisco. It also occurred to me that a recent teacher compared a story I wrote to the poems of Frank O'Hara, famous New York walking/eating poet. Two weeks ago in San Diego, I found my old Frank O'Hara pocket book with, among other things, a signed edition of the Journals Of Allen Ginsberg. In a nostalgic blast, I remembered how I spent years writing weird, surrealist poetry in little notebooks and walking around with those sleek little City Lights poem books in my back jeans pocket. O'Hara's verse is light, flouncy, accessible, sing-songy, urban and personal. I enjoy it, but I have to say I almost enjoy the orange and midnight blue composition of the book's design more as well as its the varied implications in just the title alone.

MUSIC by Frank O'Hara

 If I rest for a moment near The Equestrian
pausing for a liver sausage sandwich in the Mayflower Shoppe,
that angel seems to be leading the horse into Bergdorf's
and I am naked as a table cloth, my nerves humming.
Close to the fear of war and the stars which have disappeared.
I have in my hands only 35¢, it's so meaningless to eat!
and gusts of water spray over the basins of leaves
like the hammers of a glass pianoforte. If I seem to you
to have lavender lips under the leaves of the world,
I must tighten my belt.
It's like a locomotive on the march, the season
of distress and clarity
and my door is open to the evenings of midwinter's
lightly falling snow over the newspapers.
Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear, trumpet
of early afternoon! in the foggy autumn.
As they're putting, up the Christmas trees on Park Avenue
I shall see my daydreams walking by with dogs in blankets,
put to some use before all those coloured lights come on!
But no more fountains and no more rain,
and the stores stay open terribly late.

The days are becoming summer and you know it because the skies are gauzy bruise-tones. Today however was an exception. A bright warm perfect Sunday in San Francisco and they even closed off the Mission streets, or at least Valencia so people could freely roam on their bicycles and walk on the asphalt and blare M.I.A. from souped-up carnival bikes and eat their picnics where normally UPS trucks are idling. I got a chance to work at Dog Eared books this morning for four hours while all this was happening outside the windows. Then I had an hour for lunch, most of which I spent walking back to Bernal, so I could round out my work-day with a four hour closing shift at Red Hill Books. It turned out to be an extremely busy Sunday because it was our 5th Anniversary Sale, complete with bluegrass music and cake and a generous discount. Today I regained some faith in the essential goodness of most people, at least the ones who are interested in books and reading and buying things from small local businesses. Today I was especially proud to be an employee at a bookstore. I'd like to write an essay about that, I think, about the risks, rewards, challenges of working in a highly-threatened cultural industry: book-peddling.


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