William Taylor Jr.

Dave Glass Mission District, San Francisco 1976



This Burning

A nameless afternoon

in a small San Francisco

I strive for poetry
and produce only words

I pace the room
and through windows I watch

the sad little whores
and their pimps

cracked out ghosts
sitting in shadowed doorways
hiding from the sun

I turn away and

a yellowed death notice
clipped from a newspaper
years ago

falls from the pages
of a slim volume of poems

an old jazz man plays through my dirty little speakers
erasing the lines between life and death

nightmares and dreams

and this burning in my chest
this acute desire

is not for death
only for something other
than what is here.
All We’ve Simply Thrown Away

Outside it’s just
screams and sirens

and people waiting to be paid

inside we peel paint
from the walls in flakes
as if there might be some new
magic underneath

the wine does what it can
but this sadness in our blood
is older than time

our damage shines best
in these smallest hours

and this is the beauty I want to remember

it suddenly strikes me
so many lives could be made
from all we’ve simply
thrown away

as we cross our hearts and make a pact
to stay beautiful until the dawn

when the sun will come and
burn us off like fog.
The Sad Ghosts of Poets

I drink in an old
North Beach bar
surrounded by the
sad ghosts
of poets

( I am
speaking now
of the dead
ghosts not
the living

I look out
the window
down upon

and think
O Jack
O Bob
O Richard
O Dylan
O Jack

at your best you had
the power to turn
these lonely alleys
into songs

you broke the darkness
with a desperate joy

and mined these
dirty sidewalks
for a beauty Death
had no answer for

but Death
has no shame
I see it
spare changing on
every corner

it follows me like
a starving dog
most everywhere
I go

it waits for me
outside these doors
just like it waited
for you.
William Taylor Jr. lives in San Francisco. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such publications as Poesy, The Chiron Review and The New York Quarterly.  He is the author of numerous books, including Words For Songs Never Written: New and Collected Poems, published by Centennial Press in 2007.  His latest collection, The Hunger Season, was released by Sunnyoutside in 2009.

One response to “William Taylor Jr.”

  1. I was transported to the different scenarios as read this poetry. I just finished reading a fiction story by William too. Most enjoyable and memorable!

    Kristine Kenyon

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