San Francisco Blue, Herb Caen Who?

For awhile
after he died
when some issue arose
people used to ask,
"What would Herb think?"
Now the response would be:
"Who the fuck's Herb?"
Back then here were no tiny buttons
to push with your thumbs,
no screen to scroll sideways across,
visibly irritated by a nanosecond of delay
—"shit!" says the young lady
with pierced tongue and neck tattoo
scrolling to find the physical address
of Good Vibrations on Polk Street,
for a friend, of course—
and no "fucking" social network.
There were only people
bound together by thoughts and ideas,
hearts and minds,
meeting face-to-face,
for lunch at Le Central,
for a drink at Enrico's after work,
for an evening cocktail at the Fairmont Hotel.
Imagine that!
Nothing was "totally awesome" then
and "hey, dude!"
would only get you a strange look.
It wasn't the Lingua Lemmus of the age.
How the fuck did people communicate
without saying "ohmygod"
or "cool" or "awesome"? ...

But I grow old, so I'm told;
I know of Yeats and Billy's balls,
Oberon and Bottom's Dream,
Homer and the Cyclops;
I know of Hesse and Die Ersten Blumen;
I know of Malarmé and Le Pitre Chatié;
and I know of Du Fu and 旅 夜 书 怀.
But beware!

"Who the fuck cares?" says the baseball cap on backwards, a naufragio de sangre in neuvo San Francisco.

"Prufock, old friend, what's new?
Have you found the lost button?
Have you seen Caen, Delaplane,
McCabe at Capp's?
Oh, god, they were men
in the final days before the plague,
before the decay set in!
And Saroyan charging all over town
in search of the Holy Grail of life
and almost finding it.
Oh, what a void!"

Forgive me!
I speak the dead language
of plain meaning,
marginalized by time and trend,
a silly old fool
content with a cloud
in a clear blue sky
over Washington Square.
—Louis Martin