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Come Home to New Orleans, Bob Kaufman November 9, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Reposting for the two kind European women who so wanted a copy:

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
And hear Leah Chase
Sing Mahalia Jackson
In the synagogue of the oaks
As magnolias brown and fall.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
And see the old white south
Gathered at preservation hall
Where old Negro Bodhisattvas
Blow their Creole love songs.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
See the White Citizens Councils
Huddle in their Potemkin Americas
At the swampy back of town
In terror of their children’s radios.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
To see pale northern tourists
Hungry for that Black jazz
Wolf down bad okra gumbo
At Maspero’s slave exchange.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
To see Lorca’s sons openly
Embracing in the red carnations
Mirrored in the dark windows
Of the sad, historic cathedral.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
And the ghosts of Congo Square
Will second line behind
Your broken poet’s bones
With an African brass band

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
And Indians from all wards
Will carry you on their shoulders
The length of Basin Street
And sing that Indian Red.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
& we will honor your fierce spirit
with votives, flowers & poundcake
among the ancien Creole poets,
Marie Laveau & Homer Plessy.

Come home to New Orleans
Bob Kaufman
And enter here, eternally
Into that crackling blueness
Of towering Gulf storms
Pouring out the ancient rain.

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Comments»

1. sarajacobelli - November 9, 2012

Beautiful! I love it! Thanks for sharing this.

I wish I had been more aware, or appreciative, or whatever, of what was in my midst. I knew both Bob Kaufman and Gregory Corso, just as aquaintances, not as friends. I knew them from North Beach bars and cafes, in the early 1980s. They were introduced to me by this guy James the Cab Driver, who seemed to know everyone in Specs, Vesuvio’s, Columbus Cafe, and Gino and Carlo’s. My main memory is that they hung around and played pool, got in trouble for running up big bar tabs, the usual stuff. Kaufman actually gave me a slim book of his poems, which I stuck on one of the overflowing bookshelves in my Mission District studio apartment with the Murphy bed. and I’m not sure if I still have it or not, since I’ve moved countless times since then and packed and unpacked so many boxes of stuff.

OK, now, did I think, “Oh my, here’s a wonderful, talented, brilliant Beat poet and I better pay attention?” No, not at all. I always liked the Beats, but I’ve always been more into prose than poetry. And although I knew about Burroughs, and Ginsberg, and Ferlinghetti, and was excited I got to meet them in SF, I didn’t know anything about Kaufman or Corso. They were just a couple guys who hung around. No one seemed to make a big deal out of Kaufman, people liked him, but would get aggravated by his various scams and schemes. I remember thinking North Beach had a lot in common with the Quarter, with the never ending bar room soap opera.

Kaufman obviously didn’t make any money from his writing, because he was always broke. I can’t help but think that he would be thrilled by all of this attention. I only wish I had paid more attention.

Now what in the world ever happened to that little book of poems???

2. Stuart Strum - November 9, 2012

Homesick beauty, right there.


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