Lew Welch


Taxi Suite

1. After Anacreon

When I drive cab
         I am moved by strange whistles and wear a hat.

When I drive cab
         I am the hunter. My prey leaps out from where it
         hid, beguiling me with gestures.

When I drive cab
         all may command me, yet I am in command of all who do.

When I drive cab
         I am guided by voices descending from the naked air.

When I drive cab
         A revelation of movement comes to me. They wake now.
         Now they want to work or look around. Now they want
         drunkenness and heavy food. Now they contrive to love.

When I drive cab
         I bring the sailor home from the sea. In the back of
         my car he fingers the pelt of his maiden.

When I drive cab
         I watch for stragglers in the urban order of things.

When I drive cab
         I end the only lit and waitful thing in miles of
         darkened houses.

2. Passenger Poem, The Nurse

I don't like cats kittens are all right I guess
you can love 'em when they're little, like people,
but then they grow up and take advantage of you

and how can you love 'em anymore?

3. Passenger Poem, Mrs. Angus

There's lots of death down there
and a fish the Spanish people eat
couldn't get me near one
red they are, like meat

A famous jockey and two other lads,
and him with a big race comin' up Sunday,
went out at night in a little boat
and they was washed I think
to a place of reptiles, and eaten, for
none of 'em was ever found.

Yon place scares me.

4. Passenger Poem, The Mailman

"I understand you had a parade today," I said,
flipping the meter over and driving into traffic.
Without so much as a yes he got right into it
( carefully, with many pauses ):

        We wore
        regulation letter-carrier's

        except for the leggin's
        of course,

        and the
        helmets. Whatdayacallem?

"You mean the kind of hat Teddy Roosevelt wore when
he went to Africa to shoot lions, Pith Helmets?"

        That's right

        Fellow next to me carried
        the association banner.

        l carried
        the American Flag.

        It looked real

5. Top of the Mark

                                                        for John Wieners

I guess it's only natural that they
go about their planet as they do
all night long:

                 Top of the Mark, St. Francis,
                 Fairmont, Sir Francis Drake

What a price they pay for what they see!

                 l cannot help them
                 l will not cheat them

Yesterday I drove the actual Cab of Heaven   .    I am
                 Leo    .    I was born this way

                 my mane is longer than the sun