Archive for September, 2013

I am San Francisco by A.D. Winans

Posted in A.D. Winans with tags on September 10, 2013 by Scot

I Am San Francisco

I have witnessed the waterfront decay
the ships disappear
the piers given over to tourists
and sunbathing sea lions

Gone the Haight Theater
in the old Haight Ashbury
where as a kid I paid a dime to see
two movies a serial and a newsreel

Gone the old Embassy Theater
on Market Street where
they spun the Wheel of Fortune
playing Ten-O-Win
with a busty female usherette  shouting
“In the Balcony, 1-2-3-4 Silver Dollars”
her breasts bouncing in unison
with each coin  that hit the tray

the old Fox and Paramount Theaters
now ghostly memories
the old Market Street porno house
boarded down
Mc Farland’s Fudge Shop
and Merrill’s Drug Store gone

Gone the old Hoffbrau house
on Market Street
Breen’s on Third Street
with the worlds best Martini

and who can forget The Emporium
its indoor ice-skating rink
and a Santa Claus workshop
the roof top garden where
rides included a Ferris wheel
a small roller coaster
and a train for children to ride

Gone the North Beach Beat hangouts:
“The Place The Co-existence Bagel Shop
and the old Coffee Gallery where
Janice Joplin sang as an unknown
gone the old Barbary Coast where
as a teenager I tried to sneak into a bar
to catch a glimpse of a  naked female dancer
long before Carol Doda
and topless and bottomless bars

Lenny Bruce and the old Purple Onion
fading memories like
Play Land at the beach
and the old burlesque house
in the Mission
gone the way of trolley car tokens
Fleer’s Double Bubble Gum
and the Sutro baths

Third and Howard Street
the old skid row given a face lift
the new skid row between
Sixth and Seventh Streets
home to drug dealers and alcoholics
an open festering wound
the city fathers ignore

Martini’s now an old people’s drink
Whiskey Sours just a memory
the Waterfront dives that served
Seamen and Long Shore men replaced
by new movie complexes and parking lots

The Mission once home of the Irish
has gone Latino
North Beach is moving
from Italian to Asian

The Greeks long ago moved to Burlingame
and no one knows what happened
to the American Indian
and the bar they frequented
on Valencia  Street
and yet the city remains a magical
living breathing theater
of eccentric characters
that go back to Emperor Norton

You can still get a reasonably priced drink
at the 3300 Club in the Mission
or if you can afford it
go to the Top of the Mark
for a $13 hot chocolate drink with
a shot of Stolly Vodka and Southern Comfort
and enjoy one of the most beautiful views
in the world
or on a hot summer afternoon enjoy
an ice cream at Mitchell’s on San Jose Avenue
where my father took the family
for an after dinner treat

You can still sun yourself
at Washington Square Park
watch young lovers lying on the grass
old men feeding pigeons
or walk the streets of Noe Valley
once a blue-collar neighborhood
now a Yuppie paradise
see young mothers with kids in stroller’s
eye women joggers
admire a dog sitting outside
Martha’s Coffee Shop
faithfully waiting with pleading eyes
for table scraps from its owner

I’m a Giants baseball fan
and a lifetime 49ers football addict
my heart still bleeds over the loss
of Seal’s Stadium and the old time
San Francisco Seals

I am the possessor
of framed achievement awards
and a baseball trophy from Panama where
I played a decent outfield

I am the only word-slinger
in a working class family
I am a ghost lost
in poetry books struggling to find
the right words to a hit song
like my idol Hank Williams

I am at war with my shadow
who shamelessly stalks me
I survived my apartment fire
to reestablish family ties
long buried in quicksand

my niece my nephew my grand nephews
and grad niece share my blood
a mixture of white and Mexican roots

my father’s ghost walks my dreams
stares out the window of my soul
like he stared out  the living room window
the year before his death.
my mother sitting at the dinner table
serving meat loaf and mashed potatoes
the air heavy as an anchor dragging
the ocean floor

I am San Francisco.

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PURPLE HEARTS by Steve Gulvezan

Posted in Steve Gulvezan with tags , on September 1, 2013 by Scot

I knew three bozos
Who said they served in Vietnam
When they really hadn’t

Each made his claim
Long after the war ended
And hostility towards the real
Vietnam veterans had subsided
And America had grown somewhat sympathetic
To the ordeals of the survivors
Maimed though they may have been
Both mentally and physically

I was walking a nature trail
With bozo number one
When some kids set off a firecracker
From the foliage beside us
We both jumped a mile
But when we heard the kids laughing
And saw them lurking in the bushes
My buddy quickly recovered his equilibrium

“Damn it to hell,
You children—
When I heard that explosion
I had a flashback
To patrol duty
In the jungles of Phnom Penh—
I fought and nearly died
For our nation
And I have a Purple Heart
To prove it—
I want you to know
That what you just did
May have set my recovery
Back by a decade!”

Bozo number two
Enjoyed showing the young women
And old men
At his workplace
The scars on his legs
In the staff breakroom

He pulled up his trousers
Displaying legs disfigured
Many years before
By a pot of boiling coffee
Carelessly mishandled

“See these—
I stepped on a land mine
In ‘Nam in 1970—
Nearly lost both my legs
Fighting for my country
While you mothers—”

Here he gestured to the old men

“— Were lollygagging at home
With your student deferments
Protesting the war
Smoking dope
And banging the girls
That were rightfully mine!”

The third bozo
Almost died for his Purple Heart

He supervised a crew
Of raw company recruits
In the office mailroom
And enjoyed venting
His numerous frustrations
Upon them

He rode one shy and tongue-tied lad
Particularly hard
Though I warned him,
“You’d better take it easy
On that kid—
I heard he used to be
A golden gloves boxer”

“Golden gloves my ass,” he replied, “That punk
Is probably five feet and six inches
And one hundred and forty pounds—
I’m six foot three and two fifty—
Do you truly believe
He would ever dare
To mess with me?”

After work that day
This bozo earned the Purple Heart
Stories he would later tell
The hard way
Bright red blood
Gushing out of his nose, mouth and ears
And paralysis
From a vicious temple punch
As he was going down
Already beginning to set in
On the left side of his body…