Archive for the William Taylor Jr. Category

William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on February 17, 2023 by Scot


The Only Time God Exists

There’s that thing in your eyes
I catch now and then
that says we’re broken
in the same way
and these days the only time god
exists is when we’re finally
drunk enough to kiss.
Your laughter in the dark
like a city on fire
a riot at the end of the world
like escaping through barbed wire
back into the sun
burning with the righteous
fury of the damned.
It makes me want to write love poems
now that it’s too late for love poems
because that’s the only time they’re real.


William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in San Francisco. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in literary journals, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The Chiron Review. He was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award, and edited Cocky Moon: Selected Poems of Jack Micheline (Zeitgeist Press, 2014). Pretty Things to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry. A new collection is forthcoming from Roadside Press in 2023.

Two Poems by William Taylor Jr

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on June 20, 2020 by Scot

The Endings of Things

I was on Geary Street waiting for a bus
and a few feet from the stop there was a guy
on the sidewalk yelling

at the passenger side window of an idling car,
the shape of a woman in the driver’s seat.

Let me in, he yelled,
I promise I won’t talk about it anymore!

I didn’t like the way the guy was dressed
or the sound of his voice, so I imagined his transgressions
and condemned him accordingly.

Open the goddamned door, he yelled,
I told you I won’t talk abut it anymore!

He hit the window a few times with the palm of his hand.
The door didn’t open, but the car didn’t move.

I didn’t know the facts, maybe the driver
was completely at fault, but I very much wanted
to see the car speed away and leave him there,
seething in his backwards baseball cap.

I sensed my bus stop brethren were of a similar mind.

After a few minutes more of his yelling and pounding
the door finally opened and he climbed inside.

The yelling continued as the car sped off.

All of us bus stop people turned away, disappointed,
as usual, at the endings of things.

People are weak and the bus was already
7 minutes late so I just walked.


What the Radio Says


Don’t, as they say,
kill the messenger,
but I am here to
gently remind you
that Jesus isn’t
coming back,
and what if he did?

I might also mention
that no matter what
the radio says,
love is not enough,
and contrary to the
teachings of any number
of inspirational memes,
humanity will embrace no
heretofore undiscovered
courage or wisdom
as our carefully
curated nightmares
grow bored and
hungry, blinking
beneath a dying sun.

We’ll have to make do
with whatever beauty
we’ve hoarded and hidden
in the secret pockets
of our favorite shirts.

Be careful, trust no one,
and give nothing away,
because you’re
gonna need it all
and then some when
this whole mess
goes sideways
next year or a week
from Tuesday.

Florida or Somewhere by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on November 17, 2019 by Scot


If the televisions
and computer screens
can be believed

the woman who was killed
yesterday by a hurricane
in Florida or somewhere
else I’ve never been

was the most
beautiful soul I never
had the chance
to meet

an honest-to-goodness
angel all the tearful
faces agreed.

I don’t know what
to do with this information
as I chop meat in my kitchen
on a Monday afternoon

though I do wonder a bit
at the fact of so many
of the dead harboring
such glistening souls

while the mess of us
still puttering about
the wretched earth
are less than admirable
on the best of days.

In this afternoon’s reports
of sundry victims
of cancer, fires, foreign
wars and hearts that
have finally
given up,

there wasn’t a
bully or coward
among them,

no sociopaths,
or anyone
morally deficient
in the least.

I think of the aging junkie
lady with the crooked
smile who lived
in the building next to mine
until she disappeared
one day

and how they never showed
her photograph on CNN
as a parade of televised
faces testified on her behalf.

I stop looking
at the news and eat my meal
with a bottle of wine.

I turn on the stereo and some crazy
jazz pours from the speakers.

Its’ a glorious mess of noise
and sounds like the deaths of angels
and junkies and everything

and I raise my glass
to the truth of it.

Three Poems by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on August 11, 2019 by Scot

The Savoy Tivoli

has been here on Grant Street
in North Beach since 1907,
when it was one of the first new bars
to rise up after the quake and fire
put everything to ruin.
I first drank here some 20 years ago,
and I remember the room being full
of people and crazy energy,
and me thinking, wow,
San Francisco, what a place!
Alive with music and poetry and everything,
just like in the movies!
Now it’s a Thursday evening in 2017
and the joint is empty.
The old fellow who works the door
says hello and asks for my ID
even though I’m half a century old.
Sorry, he says, it’s what I do.
I tell him it’s okay, because it’s true, it’s what he does,
and there are plenty of people out there
doing things of a much more sinister nature,
so I choose not to judge.
I get a wine and sit at a table adrift
in a sea of empty tables.
The security guy’s reading a book
and eating snacks,
talking to the bartender about Donald Trump.
A listless sadness drifts about
but there’s a prettiness to it.
I sit on the open patio and watch the North Beach folk
drift along the sidewalks through a quiet fog.
It’s like Hemingway’s clean, well-lighted place,
except the lighting’s not so good.
It’s a bit like being underwater,
or in some mythical netherworld emptied of time.
The jukebox plays melancholy
and me and a few other ghosts lose ourselves
in the music of it, thinking how if the world
doesn’t come back for us it wouldn’t be
a tragedy.



All My Favorite Ghosts

These are mean times, cheap ass and faded.
Carol Doda is dead, and there’s precious little poetry
to be mined from these hours that have found us.
All my favorite ghosts have gone quiet,
and I’m wishing the world would just leave me here,
forever halfway through my second absinthe
on a Sunday afternoon at Vesuvio Café,
gazing at the passersby on Columbus Avenue,
wondering if they know any more than I
what it is that’s become of us.



The Book of Disquiet

I’m drinking wine and reading
Fernando Pessoa,
thinking of the woman
who, years ago now,
introduced me to his work.
She was beautiful and sad
and not quite right in the head,
and I was immediately smitten.
We shared some perfect hours
drinking absinthe in North Beach cafes,
brushing hands and legs beneath wooden tables
among the tourists and Beatnik wannabes
on a handful of August afternoons.
At some point she decided
I wasn’t worth the time
or trouble, and rightly so.
I think of her now,
as the melancholy
hours drift,
all pretty and distant and strange,
like a page
from The Book of Disquiet.

Two poems by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

Three Days Into the New Year

It’s January again with the Christmas trees
all stripped and abandoned in the gutters and on
the sidewalks and all of us mucking about
in the 21st century like we have the right
it’s the hour between dog and wolf
and I walk the neighborhood
like always still frightened
of the world and its everything
as the wretched men in power
go about their wretched business
and us regular folk we read the headlines
like dark prophecies
shrug and get back to our dying
and here in San Francisco
they’ve torn down every bar
that ever had a soul but I manage to find
a dark little place with Roy Orbison on the juke
and the only other man in here
is lonely and talks to the girl behind the bar
about the colors of the jerseys
of the basketball team on the television set
and there’s not much else to say
we’re three days into the new year
and there’s a momentary lull
in bombings, nightclub shootings
and celebrity deaths
and the guy across the street
standing in front of the Walgreens with a cardboard sign
he’s there every day just like the pigeons
and the old Asian women who pull cans
and bottles from the sidewalk garbage bins
he’s a lot like this poem the way he drifts about
with questionable purpose
forgetting exactly what it was
he was trying to say but if you don’t
keep walking he’s gonna
tell you anyway.



They were filming a movie or a tv show or something at Vesuvio
so they wouldn’t let us in
and the hipster art show ran out of wine
just as we arrived
so we ended up at Jonell’s in the Tenderloin
at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night
like something from a William Vollman novel.
My poet friend had just won $9,000 from a slot machine
in Mendocino. He was part of some kind of gang that worked the
Casino circuit. Whatever they did, I don’t think it was completely legal,
and I didn’t understand how it worked, but he sometimes made money at it
and then take a week or so to just fuck around
until the money was gone and he had to figure something
else to do. Bonnie the bartender put our drinks in front of us
and my poet friend said, Bonnie, me and Bill here are the two greatest
writers in the whole fucking city and nobody gives a shit! Bonnie just laughed
and told my poet friend he shouldn’t always drink so much and he said,
Bonnie, I started drinking at 3 o’clock today, and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable.
This would be the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of me!
Bonnie laughed and changed the channel on the television.
And then my poet friend was cursing and looking at his phone, flipping it off
before returning it to his pocket.
My girlfriend, he said, we’re in an open relationship but she hasn’t
returned my messages in 3 days.
I left flowers on her fucking doorstep and everything.
Man, I need some Blow, Hey Bonnie who’s got some Blow?
Bonnie punched something into her phone
and two minutes later a large bald woman
with face tattoos was sitting on the other side of my poet friend.
They exchange some things and my poet friend tells me to watch
his beer as he disappears into the bathroom for a good
fifteen minutes and when he comes out he sits back
down and gulps the rest of his beer. He slams the glass on the bar and yells
“I’ll fuck anything that moves!” but nothing moves so he
orders a whiskey neat and another beer
and he turns to me and says, “listen, motherfucker, I know
you’re gonna make a poem outta this, so make sure you mention
the thing about my girlfriend, because that shit’s fucked.”

The Day is a Song by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on May 2, 2017 by Scot


The day is a song Leonard Cohen
didn’t have the chance to finish

and I’m caught inside it
like a wounded thing

and sometimes my poems leave me
like a woman
or the hours in a day
or a last breath at the end of things

and I’m left with this ghost of a life
and still this hunger for beauty
in whatever form it can still afford

outside there’s the rain
and the broken people beneath

a pretty uselessness that pulls the heart

and sometimes it seems
the best plan is to be forgotten
just as soon as you can manage

yet there’s a music to it all
that’s kept me going
so far

and when I finish this beer
I’ll go outside and find some alley
I’ve never seen

I’ll turn the corner and take
whatever’s there.

Don’t Ever Tell Anybody Anything. If You Do, You Start Missing Everybody by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on September 28, 2014 by Scot

Baby you once said
love is just losing your strut
for a little while and letting yourself
be naked

and I remember a time
when we stood in each others’ presence

naked and glorious

and like children we imagined it would last

but our prayers got busted
halfway to heaven

and rained back down
upon us like dirty snow

and now we’re covered in shit
and years and regrets

and you probably don’t
ever think about it much

but I carry lost moments
through the years like painted stones

and baby I will always call you baby
and I’ll always remember you naked.

As we wait for the moment when I disappoint you by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on June 23, 2013 by Scot

We both know it’s coming as sure as the dawn
but for now let’s put it in the place
where we keep all the things
we don’t think about
until we have no choice

because it’s a lovely afternoon
and we’ve found a pretty good place
to hide

and seeing my face
from a certain angle
and in a certain light

it’s possible to imagine
that this love has transformed me
into something bigger
than I am

and it’s true that sometimes people
have been known
to rise above their baser selves
to forge the future like a

and for now it’s much more pleasant
to think of that
rather than the other

because this thing inside me
could be mistaken for love

the sex is really good

and sometimes it’s fun
to believe in things.


Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on January 6, 2013 by Scot

Joy On Most Every Cornerbill

It’s starting to feel like winter
even here in San Francisco
and it’s harder than it should be
to find an open bar on Valencia St.
at 3 o’clock on a weekday afternoon
and as I walk I feel myself
evaporating like the rain
on the sidewalks and I know
this is the nature of things

but I’d like to hold on
for just a little while more
see I’m still not tired
of the sky’s lovely grey
and though I still don’t
know how to say I’m sorry
for all I am
and all I’m not
despite all my talk of darkness
at any given moment
I still can fall in love
with everything all over again
and I still think we are often beautiful
in our pristine and plastic
and sometimes I still see
joy on most every corner
and I can still walk these
Mission Street sidewalks
in the wintertime
and sing.


The Universe and Everyone

It’s just like old Sherwood
Anderson said, everything
is on fire all the time
and that means you
and me
and the suns and the stars
and the houses and the oceans
there’s no shame in it
and to understand and
accept it is not giving up
it’s just opening yourself
to the nature of things
and there is great power
in this and if you realize
that all there is
all there ever was and
will be
is this moment
and you inside it
you can give yourself
to it completely
you can burn so big
and bright
people will see
the universe and everyone
will see
and when you are gone
they will remember
and say

The Sad Ghosts of Poets

I drink in an old
North Beach bar
surrounded by the
sad ghosts
of poets

( I am
speaking now
of the dead
ghosts not
the living

I look out
the window
down upon

and think
O Jack
O Bob
O Richard
O Dylan
O Jack

at your best you had
the power to turn
these lonely alleys
into songs

you broke the darkness
with a desperate joy

and mined these
dirty sidewalks
for a beauty Death
had no answer for

but Death
has no shame
I see it
spare changing on
every corner

it follows me like
a starving dog
most everywhere
I go

it waits for me
outside these doors
just like it waited
for you.

Luck With the Day by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on May 27, 2012 by Scot

We didn’t have much
luck with the day
it came apart
so easy in our hands

and we can blame
the heat
the hangover
or the blank faced
hipster kids
sprawling outside
the bars on Polk Street

all I know is
tonight we’ll drink
too much wine
and sleep
the sleep of the
blissfully gone

dreaming that
should tomorrow come
it will be made of
sterner stuff.