Archive for the ‘William Taylor Jr.’ Category

William Taylor Jr.



Welcome to My Poetry Workshop

You just gotta slap
the words down
and beat them
until they sing.


Me & the Ghosts

There was nowhere I had to be.
It was late afternoon, I was on Market Street
in the midst of the financial district.
I was walking to the Ferry Building
for no reason other than it was a place to go.
It had bathrooms and people to look at.
It had little stores in which to buy food
and drink. People were getting off work,
rushing for buses, going in pairs and groups
to restaurants and bars. All of the girls
looked pretty, even the ones who weren’t.
All the old men seemed kindly enough.
On the concrete plaza the skateboard kids
were doing their thing, sliding down railings
and weaving through throngs of people
with the grace of birds.
The people of the street stood in groups
exchanging drugs and money with a studied nonchalance.
I entered the Ferry Building and used the restroom.
I bought a cup of coffee at a kiosk
went out to where the ferries were
and saw the people lined up to board.
I looked at the people drinking wine
and eating seafood on the restaurant patios,
talking about things they seemed pretty
sure about, businessmen slapping
each others’ backs and laughing like horses.
I looked at the ocean and a few ships
that were headed somewhere.
I looked at the bay bridge, filled with cars
and trucks and buses going in one direction
or the other. I eventually got bored
and started back along Market Street
with no destination in mind.
Everything around me, the people
and the buildings, the sky and the earth
all seemed possessed of some sense
of purpose and permanence
I’ve never been able to manage.
I didn’t mind so much, I was used to it.
Me and the ghosts, we just drift.



Lawrence Ferlinghetti died three days ago
and since then my artist friend has wandered
the streets of North Beach with a haunted face

his hands clasped tight behind him
like the old men of Chinatown

with the jacket, hat and scarf
he wears most every day, looking like something
from a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec.

When he passes City Lights he pauses
to gaze at the memorials, the bunches
of flowers strewn about the sidewalk
the notes and poems plastered to the building
the art and the blessings scrawled across every surface.

He solemnly kneels to read
something someone has written
on the concrete in bright pink chalk.
He stays there, motionless, his eyes
staring deep into some other place.

I’m not close enough to say for sure
but I imagine a single tear plowing
slowly down his cheek.

When he rises he turns to me and says
with a voice like something coming up for air

I’ve been interviewed by three television crews today,
because they could sense I was in MOURNING!

He speaks the word like he means it in the purest sense
and his eyes shine with grief as he wanders off.

A part of me considers it all a bit absurd
a performative show

but in truth he’s the only guy around
who remembers how to mourn a poet
the way a poet should be mourned

another art all but lost into
this dark mess of everything
devouring whatever light
we try and give.

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from November 2009-October 31, 2010

Jason Ryberg…The Time, Being

Hosho McCreesh… A Dark Desperate Kind of Luck

William Taylor Jr. … Lives Like Landfills

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In spite of promises, oaths
and the best of intentions

I stand but dumbly by

as the hours slip
and spiral out.

She lies on the bed and cries,
she tells me she is broken.

I understand
but don’t know what to do.

I suppose it’s like this

lives like landfills
of disappoints and regrets.

I too wish the days and the hours
were something more than this
gradual decline.

I wish the silent gods
would find new ways
for us to burn.

The day shrugs and gives
itself to the darkness

as I ignore the ringing
of the phone

on my way to the kitchen
in search of more wine.

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The world is just knives and stones
forged by vengeful
bitter gods

we wander through stillborn days

tongues coated with
the metallic taste of despair

addled with loneliness

all the pretty suicides
smile sadly from every corner

beckoning with skinny fingers

as the afternoon teeters
and falls off its stool

any meaning you might
try and pin to it all
fades and tears like old handbills
from Market Street lamp posts

and all that remains
is whatever stares back at you
from spittle stained windows

your wounded animal self
naked and ashamed

uglier even than your dreams.

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The poems aren’t faring very well today.

The sky looks tired
and newspaper headlines
tell the story of a girl
who went and got her head
chopped off
for no reason I can understand.

I guess today’s not too good
for any of us.

On the way to work I stop by a bar
and decide to stay there.

The people in the bar look the way people in bars
have always looked.

They talk too loud about the same things.

The same jokes are etched across the condom machines:

This gum tastes funny.

The same man sits in the same corner
and talks to someone I can’t see.

I buy a beer for the girl with her head
chopped off
and we talk awhile until she gets bored
and says she has to go.

I ask if we can meet again and she says

After four more beers
I step outside

to find the sun has gone off sick
and the sky frightened with clouds
afraid to weep.

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Polk Street,
San Francisco.

A sky all California blue.

It’s October again

and I sit at a sidewalk table
with a glass of wine,

dreaming of nothing

other than the women
walking up and down
the avenue,

all of them so lovely in their
green and yellow dresses,

an argument death
will never win.

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The day doesn’t want to be here.

The sky’s given up
and the sun’s run out of tricks.

The suicides
fill the night and shine
like unnamed stars

and you’re weary
from the effort it takes
to pretend to be something
more than lost,

from clinging so tightly
to what’s left of the world.

Running out of places
to hide the corpses
of  all your murdered hours,

and nothing left upon the earth
you’d even want to steal.

by the kindness of strangers
and fallen out of love
with your sins,

your heart crying
like some spoiled child
for something new to love
or to destroy.

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Awkward and absurd
in this moment in time,

lost among the lost,

lacking the grace of God’s
finer things,

we are given so little time
to be beautiful.

Our tiny lives

so soon forgotten,

so soon

just lists of things
to sell or give away.

The dance is a strange one,

and I could not hope to offer
any dream of meaning.

I only know 

this drunken reeling
beneath a dying sun
is all we are,

this briefest of instants
as we brush death aside

to wait jealous
and vengeful in the hungry shadows.

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