Bob Kaufman

Bob Kaufman

Bob Kaufman, or more accurately, Robert Garnell Kaufman, was born on April 18, 1925 in New Orleans, LA and Died January 12, 1986 in San Francisco, CA.

Kaufman has been described as an “innovative poet” and an important writer who gained his prominence during the Beat period.

As a youth, Kaufman had the opportunity to gain exposure to a wide variety of religions. His father was German-Jewish, his mother was Roman Catholic and his grandmother was a practitioner of voodoo. Eventually however, Kaufman developed an interest in eastern religions and like many of the other Beat writers, became a Buddhist.

In 1958, Kaufman moved to San Francisco and quickly became acclimated to the lifestyle led by many of the writers and artists who were prominent during the Beat period. Much of his writing became “surreal” and was often inspired by jazz music. He published Crowded with Loneliness and founded a magazine called Beatitude in 1965.

Kaufman was most popular among European readers during the 1960’s and published his second collection, Golden Sardine in 1967.

After witnessing the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Kaufman was compelled to take a vow of silence, which it is said was unbroken until the end of the Viet Nam War. His writing became political again and he produced a collection that included early works called The Ancient Rain: Poems, 1956-78 (1981).

It is said that in 1978 Kaufman once again resumed his silence and seldom broke the sacred vow until his death.


Round About Midnight

Jazz radio on a midnight kick,
Round about Midnight.

Sitting on the bed,
With a jazz type chick
Round about Midnight,

Piano laughter, in my ears,
Round about Midnight.

Stirring up laughter, dying tears,
Round about Midnight.

Soft blue voices, muted grins,
Excited voices, Father’s sins,
Round about Midnight.

Come on baby, take off your clothes,
Round about Midnight.


Jazz Chick

Music from her breast, vibrating
Soundseared into burnished velvet.
Silent hips deceiving fools.
Rivulets of trickling ecstacy
From the alabaster pools of Jazz
Where music cools hot souls.
Eyes more articulately silent
Than Medusa’s thousand tongues.
A bridge of eyes, consenting smiles
reveal her presence singing
Of cool remembrance, happy balls
Wrapped in swinging
Jazz
Her music…
Jazz.


On

On yardbird corners of embryonic hopes, drowned in a heroin tear.
On yardbird corners of parkerflights to sound filled pockets in space.
On neuro-corners of striped brains & desperate electro-surgeons.
On alcohol corners of pointless discussion & historical hangovers.
On television corners of cornflakes & rockwells impotent America.
On university corners of tailored intellect & greek letter openers.
On military corners of megathon deaths & universal anesthesia.
On religious corners of theological limericks and
On radio corners of century-long records & static events.
On advertising corners of filter-tipped ice-cream & instant instants
On teen-age corners of comic book seduction and corrupted guitars,
On political corners of wamted candidates & ritual lies.
On motion picture corners of lassie & other symbols.
On intellectual corners of conversational therapy & analyzed fear.
On newspaper corners of sexy headlines & scholarly comics.
On love divided corners of die now pay later mortuaries.
On philosophical corners of semantic desperadoes & idea-mongers.
On middle class corners of private school puberty & anatomical revolts
On ultra-real corners of love on abandoned roller-coasters
On lonely poet corners of low lying leaves & moist prophet eyes.


O-Jazz-O

Where the string
At
some point,
Was umbilical jazz,
Or perhaps,
In memory,
A long lost bloody cross,
Buried in some steel cavalry.
In what time
For whom do we bleed,
Lost notes, from some jazzman’s
Broken needle.
Musical tears from lost
Eyes.
Broken drumsticks, why?
Pitter patter, boom dropping
Bombs in the middle
Of my emotions
My father’s sound
My mother’s sound,
Is love,
Is life.

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