Cover design: Jessica & Doug Rees | Cover photo: Paul Goettlich
THE HOUSE ON DANA STREET
(from “Med CafĂ© Stories”)
He, the new young man never knew
what to make of Jimmy Lynn’s house
on Dana Street in Berkeley,
writers coming and going, mostly blacks,
talking revolution never tired of
talking about what it was all about
what the whites did to the blacks.
We got those college degrees, yeah!
Some writing movie scripts, some
writing poetry, some doing it all,
Al Young sitting late night on a stool
at the kitchen counter, paying respect
to his older friend,Â Â Â Â Al was relaxed,
while Jimmy was in motion,
Al listening to Jimmy telling it like it is.
Listening closely to Jimmy’s paranoia
which as it turned out,
we said one by one, “it wasn’t paranoia,
it was hieroglyphics on the wall.”
World politics vindicated Jimmy.
At Jimmy’s house, some writing novels,
some writing plays, Big Herb
Handsome, devilish, and trailing a
King’s robe behind him.
“Won’t you come in and have a cup of tea
I’ll tell you about my play.
The Day of the Nigger
let me explain the storyline, it’s the
day all the white people are killed
except, of course, some women.”
Jimmy, an intellectual who supported his art life
working on the docks,
gave free room and board to one young man,
“until you get a place,” he said.
The new border, light-skinned, ethereal, smiled
dreamily;Â was he listening?Â to urgent discussions in
this Parisian Left Bank on Dana?
While they talked revolution, the young man’s soul
whispered dreamily,Â Â Â Â “Lena HorneÂ Â Lena Horne”
He was inside his own song and sweetly melancholic
as if he knew then he would later die young.
When I met him, he was floating, flute in hand
into the Med CafĂ©, speaking in rhyme, keeping time.
Some thought it odd but all thought him beautiful, with
sea green eyes and gold skin.
I couldn’t understand his words but sat with him
where the blacks sat at the Med if not at Robbie’s.
The new boarder dreamily wafted in and out
of the Dana Street flat, like a mirage,
like a collage on the wall,
to be viewed or ignored by writers, musicians, artists,
smoking pot, making movies, talking about Camus as if
the subject was inexhaustible.
Jimmy let him stay there, saying wistfully,
“I just wish the young man would pick up his socks
and underwear from the floor.”
“But he’s so beautiful,” I said.
The young man overhearing, smiled sadly,
“Yes, of course, I am beautiful.
My mother is LENA HORNE!”
Â© 2011 Dorothy Jesse Beagle
Jesse Beagle, San Francisco, 1987 (National Poetry Week at Fort Mason)
1731 Tenth Street
Berkeley, CAÂ 94710