BOB KAUFMAN

Bob is very Buddhist and probably smiling now like the Dali Llama smiles at death and such
inconsequential matters

remembering his knack for grasping bigness, greatness, and wrapping it tightly (though he looked so loose)

into one small package that could be easily spotted as a chunk of gold might be sighted, and it would be there

dangling, ready to be retrieved by one of many souls designated to trail about him, picking up discarded poems,

rescuing Bob's familiar Moroccan leather binder from the ashes and water when Kaufman's hotel burned,

soggy pages filled with words that may have been the Beginning of "Ancient Rain."
what WISDOM in his soul

amid such body CHAOS (that's why I see him grinning) while falling off a pier and losing teeth, glasses and hearing aid.

Jazz Poet and friend, q. r. hand, fitted him up with new glasses, and saw to it he was put back together.

"He just SEEMS mixed up, "what it is, he can't see or hear,". running stoned, seemingly incoherent, hanging on to sanity

by a poem-wire and all the while scatting while scattering surreptitious blueprints pointing the way to his small packages to be saved.

His besieged body seemed to leak like a sieve dropping any semblance of normality or security or long lastingness

yet sticking like glue to one little finger that some one could reach up and grab for posterity,
were always these

SMALL packages of genius wobbling in the wind while he was preoccupied with life NOW!
Any one of the designated souls

might follow him as he shouted poems, sometimes his own, sometimes a collage, and was it Kaufman or Olsen or both?

Bob making music of North Beach streets and cafes and bars, reciting from a car top, and the police come again

and they arrest him and arrest him and arrest him and arrest him and arrest him, he is in their face and he won’t stop reading

leaving a paper poem trail behind him. Ragelty tag worshipers scooping up Kaufman poems where they lay,

sometimes crumpled. Are they St. Francis' ragamuffins? angels? not just Eileen? archiving? And others, café idlers,

who come to hear the North Beach poets, a camaraderie tentacled from word smyths coffee-huddled New York Poets

In 1958, North Beach, Bob knocked on a door opened by Eileen, asked for a cup of coffee and said he thought he would marry her and he did.

It was the 1950's an unkind time for a beautiful black man and a long-haired Irish girl .to find an apartment by any illegal means.

In New York city, q. r. hand was changed forever, his poetry reborn at the moment he heard troubadour,

Jack Micheline ."Not when I heard him," q. r. said to me, " but when I HEARD him!" Later, in North Beach

Bob takes his ususal ‘stage’ -a table top, the noise of the room stops instantly, this is who they came to hear: "The MADMAN! The Seer.

Bob is suddenly down from the table, quickly through the open door, outside, down the alley, reciting

LOUDLY TALKING ABOUT THE POLICE! his pocket stuffed with bits of papers, words for poems, flow over into the street,

those he has not carelessly, disdainfully discarded hastily in the filthy john! Strangers eyes are drawn as to a magnet,

spotting bits and pieces, in the alleyway, they hope to fit together as a puzzle answered. such as ‘what life is.’

slightly jazzed on wine, like sleepwalkers they stumble upon bits of paper not thrown to the wind but glued to Bob’s finger,

fluttering there till a passerby catches the poem as it sails like a pink flowered frisbee, high on the wind

African American/French,
full-throated laughing,
truth rendering,

finger snapping

walking flying,

New Orleans Mardi Gras

all year long ,

full baritone

shouting poems, uphill through

San Francisco FOGG/JAZZ

grace notes dancing

on windowsills

above

Columbus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(inspired by Eileen Kaufman, and David Henderson introduction to Kaufman poetry collection "CRANIAL GUITAR" 1996)



© Dorothy Jesse Beagle

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