The Funeral of Bob Kaufman

At the Cafe Trieste
100 poets converge
        with his family, friends and the press.

On the corner of Vallejo and Grant
a Dixieland band begins to play -
        the parade through North Beach begins.

Across Columbus and Broadway
in the footsteps of the martyred poet
        through the stations of his cross.

Stopping first at City Lights,
the poets own poems are read
        and the poems he loved and some original poems.

The next station, Vesuvios
the band playing, the poets reading,
        then across Columbus to Specs,

and then to the Saloon
these stations where the poet drank
        and was 86d.

Then up Grant Avenue to Washington Square Park,
the final station where the poet laid in the sun
        the band playing, the poems roar on.

We drive to the Marina
where three boats wait,
        the Electra for the family and close friends,

and the Bel Canto
for photographers and press,
        and the Wet Willie from the Peace Navy.

More Dixieland music, and the last poems -
We board the boats.
        The sun is shining

through a few rain clouds
that sprinkle the poet's
        ancient rain on all of us.

We go out on a smooth tide.
Just off Aquatic Park pier
        the boats make a circle

and the white ashes
are shaken from the golden urn
         into the choppy grey bay.

We throw yellow daffodils
onto the water and a copy
         of the silver anniversary Beatitude.

The flowers and the ashes
and the book float on the surface.
         Kjaz is playing Charlie Parker

in memory of the dead poet
who wrote like Bird played.
         The boats return to the dock.

The poets are hugging each other
the ancient rain is falling
         light like snowflakes.

As we drive back to North Beach
a short, wide rainbow
         slips like a hand into the bay.