William Taylor Jr.

It's Easter Sunday as I step over the man
asleep on the Tenderloin sidewalk
and trudge on through Chinatown
where the tourists wait in lines
for pastries and pork buns
and luckless creatures
hang in butchershop windows
like forgotten martyrs
in black velvet paintings
sold in the alley
outside the bar at Stockton and Pine
where country music plays
and everybody
speaks languages I don't understand
where I just sit and watch the pretty Korean
lean across the bar telling
a German woman the names
of beers
as her husband
smokes cigarettes in the rain
and the girl on the jukebox sings
you can dance in a hurricane
only if you're standing in the eye
and I don't know what that means
but maybe it's true
and over on Broadway the Hungry I
is open and the women outside
beckon with their soft
versions of forgiveness
and there's a girl
forever leaning in the doorway
with sad eyes, bad tattoos
and a smile that grants salvation
to anyone who can work
the ATM
she drifts about the room
a pretty ghost
and we're caught here together
in the eye of the fire of everything
making peace with the horror of things
as best we can
because it's springtime
and our hearts and everything
are bursting with love and apathy
we don't need god
we bless our own wine
and pray to anything that will listen.


WILLIAM TAYLOR Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. To Break the Heart of the Sun is his latest collection of poetry.