Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Rodney Nelson

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CALIFORNIA HALL

no rain that winter night in a kind of wartime
and more than it could hold were there
                     wanted to see
and hear the poets if they could
                     mainly to be
at the reading and in a velveteen jumpsuit
Ferlinghetti strummed an autoharp and intoned
                                       get the hell outta
                                       here Doctor Hare
                     McClure in
a leather jacket ran the word out to the crowd
in the street
                     Levine did not have a blue collar
Brautigan did a navy p-coat and were smoke
and words and gallon jugs of wine but no mention
yet of the wanted hunted hero they meant to
raise money for
                     the wife’s late arrival brought that
word and from the lectern sumptuous Levertov
handed out syllabi that no one could pocket
                     the very short
poem Brautigan read had the
name
                                       Rommel
                     in it and a Bishop of too much
elegance and dignity got up also with
a cant on an earlier marked dark hero in
                                       bedlam
and all had come to the hall this one time
in this time and city not only for a man
but to decry the kind of war going on in
the night around it and with smoke and wine and loud
poetry to celebrate the light they would make
within
                     so everyone belonged
                     elegant
                     other
it seemed everyone had moved toward
everyone
                     many would not belong again

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