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March 3, 2003


Ragged Lion

Recalling Jack Micheline

Thursday, February 27, marked the fifth anniversary of poet Jack Micheline’s death. To measure his passing, a small group gathered at the Abandoned Planet bookstore to read poems and share gossip. The venue was appropriate, because many years ago Micheline transformed the walls of a small back room into an oasis of brightly colored poetry. And because bookstore owner Scott Harrison has written a wonderfully evocative description of Micheline as poet and painter.


To continue the commemoration, the Call posts the following poems by Jack Micheline, from sixty-seven poems for downtrodden saints:

crooked streets
curve into the night sky
San Francisco 1 AM
Drag Queens whistle
we're ready
as the jets rumble on
and the voices
pour out of the bars and cafes
cash registers
and wheels
all over a nation
action is life
bright colors of clothing
always that voice and moans
at the Flea Bag Hotel off Market
Thirty years kicking death in the Ass
The fool is never ready for recognition
He is
October 22, 1986


There are hiding places in my room
where beautiful poems are hidden
Poems hidden away in boxes
on sheets of brown paper
Poems of spirit and magic
workers hands hidden in boxes
beautiful thighs
there are blue skies hidden in my room
dolphins and seagulls
the heaving of breasts and oceans
there are skies in my room
there are flies in my room
there are streets in my room
there are a thousand nights hidden in boxes
there are drunks in my poems
there are a million stars on the roof of my room
all hidden away in boxes
there are steps down side streets
there is a crazed eye of a poet in my room
there are old Arabs exploring the desert near Escalon
there are sparrows and bluebirds and wildcats in my room
there are elephants and tigers
there are skinny Italian girls in my room
there are letters from Peru and England
and Germany and Russia in my room
There are the steps of Odessa in my room
the Volga river in my room
there are dreams in the night of my room
there are flowers
there is the dance of affirmation in my room
the steps of young poets carrying knapsacks full of poems
there are the Pictures of an Exhibition in my room
Moussorgsky and Shostakovich
and Charlie Mingus in my room
Composers and painters all singing in my room
all hidden away in boxes
one night when the moon is full
they will come out and do a dance
November 19, 1976
San Francisco, CA


To capture the feeling
To feel its pulse
To see the stream has been muddied
I am busy reshaping the stars
I cannot be bothered with your
Earthly pleasures
All these rantings and ravings
Have nothing to do with poetry
Have nothing to do with magic
Only the ears of butterflies
And birds
And the delicate moths
Let the Angels in
Let them into this Market
Feel, see, and breathe
February 25, 1998
San Francisco