Ben Perkoff, The Saloon, 1985

Night of Saxophones 2

When I met Harry Monroe
he was half Scottish and
something else and part Cherokee
American Indian, he was an editor at
the Oracle Newspaper, that famous rag
sold on Haight and Asbury St. San Francisco
in the hay day of the late sixties, Harry
interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Allen Watts
Gary Synder, and Tim Leary, I had bought
that paper when I first went to the Haight
in the "summer of love", the Oracle had hippie
art and poetry also, I put the pictures of
Ginsberg and Leary on my bedroom wall, years
later when I met Harry at a poetry reading,
he told me all about his friendship with Bobby

Bobby and Harry had been in the Merchant Marines
they lived in a loft in Greenwich village together
Harry told me about how Bobby and him traveled to
Bobby's family home in Louisiana and Harry said
Bob's family had treated them both like kings
the family being an old southern family with style

Harry use to come pick me up in his Plymouth clunker
and we would go to the corner liquor store and get
red vermouth wine early in the morning, and go down
to this bridge over the river and sit there
and Harry shows me how to down the Cinzano vermouth
all at once in one long smooth chug-a-lug,
he would do this and then he would look up at the
Americana sky, and jut his Scottish Cherokee chin out
and shout at the top of his lungs "like a train load
of drunken indians"...and I look up at the stark blue
sky and see clouds forming into "the trail of tears"
feel my chest clench, and then do the same bottoms up
Then Harry tells me about days of Beat and Black
Rimbaud, funny but Harry had a way of walken and talken
that when I met Bobby years later seemed so similar

when I finally met Bobby at Vesuvious that night
I asked him about Harry, he got a look in his eye
and was telling me about Harry, odd but I saw
that familiar expression that I use to see in Harry's
face, on Bobby's face and I wondered who influenced
whom exactly, with who's characteristic look, Bobby
talked fast and it was not easy to follow, but when
he recited a line from a poem, and he got that same
look I use to see in Harry's eyes all sparkly, the
line was something like " when the wind blows the
stars through the moon" then we winked...ancient, wise

I will never forget that wink, the North Beach night
that jazz never sounded so much like the words...
that Bob Kaufman spoke, i will never forget Bobby, and
that old sea salt poet look that Harry Monroe also had
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