Monday, March 28, 2011


Bob Kaufman


Pale brown Moses went down to Egypt land

To let somebody's people go.

Keep him out of Florida, no UN there:

The poor governor is all alone,

With six hundred thousand illiterates.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Nailing back Jesus to an imported cross

Every six weeks in Dawson, Georgia.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Eating black children, I know your hunger.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Burning Japanese babies defensively —

I realize how necessary it was.

Your ancestor had beautiful thoughts in his brain.

His descendants are experts in real estate.

Your generals have mushrooming visions.

Every day your people get more and more

Cars, television, sickness, death dreams.

You must have been great


from Cranial Guitar
(Coffee House)

"My head is a bony guitar, strung with tongues, plucked by fingers & nails," is how Bob Kaufman once put it. One of the great improvisational poets, it was his wife Eileen Singe who put onto paper many of the poems Kaufman worked in the oral tradition. Born in Louisiana in 1925 and gone from us in 1986, Kaufman was one of the co-founders of
Beatitude after he moved to the San Francisco Bay region in 1958. His books have been solid showings from both City Lights and New Directions.