Café Babar

an editorial by Brian Morrisey

When there is a long delay in our words, it gives way to a passion brewing within that can only be expressed by metaphors painted onto the page.

They say
North Beach was sleeping sound
with pleaded skirts
and has-been heroes
drooling onto a pillow
stuffed with plucked feathers
from the bird that never flew
while down in the Mission
poets were
smoking lightning
and breathing fire
when it struck
the back room
aluminum walls
of Café Babar
decorating loneliness
with cheap beer
and not enough answers
as to why poetry
wasn’t saving the world.
Speaking the spoken word
before it was spoken
sending love letters
to the muse
before they could
afford the stamp
you didn’t need to de-code
decipher
learn a secret handshake
sell your soul
to the highest bidder
to see a pint glass
of liquid passion
flying at your face
90 miles an hour
if you weren’t
cutting your heart out
with the torn edge of page
because it was about
how fast the blood
could spill over the paper
before you dropped
into the hands of devotion

This issue is a tribute to the readings that took place at Café Babar in the Mission District of San Francisco from the mid-late ’80s up through about 1994. I interviewed three staples of the readings: Bruce Isaacson, Julia Vinograd and Joie Cook.

On a dreary Sunday on April 13th, a Café Babar Reunion reading was held at Bird and Beckett Bookstore. What I witnessed blew me away! What I stumbled into was a magical world of electrified poetry read with passion bursting from every pore through the rough skin of these poets. The poets who yawned at likes of academic wordplay consuming sacred poesy would rather spend all hours of the night taming blood-thirst for a word to ignite a fire in the small tin-walled back room of the Café Babar on Thursday nights. These are their words…