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ruth weiss in North Beach by Lourdes Acevedo

ruth weiss in North Beach

To say her voice was gravelly
       would be so cliche so
       I might say it was like it had been
       dragged lightly over North Beach asphalt, but
       that sounds like it was ugly and
       stained with oil, oil of the world
       she so eschewed in her lit-up poems about
       sailing seas and, protesting derricks off Mendocino
       And ruth doesn’t drive

To say she was iconic would be
       so anti-ruth, so anti- the anti-
       Post-War consumerism of 1950s America
       which seemed almost deliberately to
       submerge the souls of Commies and Hippies
       to make them indistinguishable
       in pink aprons and skinny black ties
       she just likes to walk, said a man beside ruth, at night
       to the Man

But what of the turquoise of her hair
     &#160 and her nails
     &#160 and her pants
     &#160 over silver sparkly socks
     &#160 What of a beer perched on a music stand
     &#160 an aid, as was a drum
     &#160 a hollowed-out redwood found artifact
     &#160 how “green” it was
     &#160 or, how turquoise
     &#160 how jazz

An eternal Beat she takes off glasses for emphasis
I try to take off pretenses and syllables and learned coquettishness, my pain quotidian

ruth lowercase
ruth uppercase
ruth survivor, holocaust
ruth inspirer, your own cost
was never too great
we’d all pay
to have your voice
next to this
a star of our hearts
called a spark
called the creative
us women; us girls
artists on a boys train
your train, the train from Vienna

What of our connection?
You and me and Mexico
home of my family
where Beat poets go to die, or fly
And you and me and poetry
I sit across from shiny girls
I’m clad in black
Black ink in my moleskin
It’s black

Life, a “crazy quilt of miracles”
here I stand before you
to me
a dreamer of days
with alleyways
named for you
named for ruths.

Click here to read about Lourdes Acevedo’s weekend in San Francisco that inspired the creation of this poem.


Lourdes Acevedo
Formerly an attorney representing domestic violence survivors, Lourdes E. Acevedo is a writer and poet of Mexican and English descent interested in art in furtherance of gender and social justice. She holds a J.D. from UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and got her starting writing with the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law and Justice and the California Law Review. She is currently at work on a novel based on her experiences as an attorney, as well as a chapbook of poems. Connect with Lourdes on her new blog: http://lourdesacevedo.wordpress.com
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