Saturday, April 14, 2012

National Poetry Month: Robert Ambrose, Jr.

Haight Plus Forty Four

(Robert Ambrose Jr.)

It would be wrong,

of course, to hike up

Haight in too new

tie dye, made in Haiti

hauled to Georgia

bought off “Hippies”

costume rack, my own

creation – purple bled

with golden highlights –

gone to rags too long


I caught the Summer

of Love, you know,

by grace of A.M. radio

sweating construction

to finance my physics,

and fantasized Love-Ins

were all I could muster

that innocent summer

in North Carolina.

Now here in Haight I stalk

the places free range

hippies propagated

Seeking Authenticity

or failing that, a clever tee

to take back home with burning

words declaring what it is we

were, just what we wanted life

to hold, what never was but still

might be, in understated irony.

From off the other side of Haight

persistent as the backed-up traffic

bold, phlegmatic yogi laughs

though not in mirth this, only practice:


take two breaths and


breathe again and …

sidewalk strangers stifle grins

it’s mirror neurons, I explain

but want what he had just the same.

A block from fervor, gentry groom

their comely rows of reclaimed homes

each worth more than all the flowers

worn by hippies in the Haight

on back to hedonistic sixties –

sex and drugs

and pheromones

in fog of bliss and burned-out minds –

but let us bless those naïve youth who

fought for justice with their flowers,

summoned peace by sharing song.

Though Summer’s gone

its love child tweets and sings today.

We sold out

fast, our youth

the price for long

productive prime

of life, and now

we’ve nearly

done our time,

inflicted damage,

squandered more

but gently, gently –

after all it’s every

generation’s fate

to re-enact the Fall.

Last call before

we’re ushered


At the end of Haight now Golden

Arches sits across from Whole Food Market

hard by parkland, pulsing, pulsing

tribal drums beat about the edge of awareness

from somewhere deep within the great long golden heart

that stretches on to the end of America

where sea fog gathers cleansing chill

close underground raw forces build

and the late day breeze drifts so gently

about my face, I cannot say

which way it blows.

ROBERT AMBROSE JR. is a retired environmental engineer who has developed and applied water quality models since 1974. He is a principal developer of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WASP model. His EPA specialties included surface water quality modeling, transport and fate of sediment and contaminants in surface water bodies, linkage of hydrodynamic, sediment transport, chemical exposure, and water quality models in human and ecological risk assessment modeling frameworks. He now provides professional assistance, consulting, and training part time. He also writes and performs his poetry in Athens, Georgia, and curates his blog Reflections in Poetry.

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