I Shared a Lover 

with Ferlinghetti

I shared a lover with Ferlinghetti

No, he shared the lover with me

He was finally ready to share

With any stranger, really

When you love something

Set it free

Even if it’s your ’95 Ford Ranger

Lipstick or firetruck red

Depending on how you roll

My wife always can tell:

You've been with the truck again

Haven't you?

We moved to San Francisco in July, 1996

Never wanted to know

Where he lived

Let it be a North Beach mystery

Friends all knew

"Let me know if you're ever ready"

Said Jon Golinger

But when I finally got permission

To plant the tree in his honor for Arbor Day

After 10 years of on & off lobbying

I had to make sure we weren't 

Planting it close to his home

Finally sought it out

Took my daughter with me

For the pilgrimage 

At 4pm, on Sunday

February 17th, 2019

We touched down on the front steps

Took photos of my daughter, sitting there

The "LF" handwritten initials

On the mailbox

Confirmed we had officially arrived

That's when the axis titled

A life wondering if we possess freewill

Or if everything has been determined

The sound or touch of a canoe

Nosing onto the clear sandy shore

While taking photos at 4:02pm

A little red pickup truck was parked out front

With For Sale signs in windows

My first thought was

I've been looking to buy a used Ford Ranger

My 2nd thought was

Lawrence has a pickup truck

My third thought was 

Lawrence's sight has been failing

My fourth thought was 

But his vision has never been better

My fifth thought was

Would he just put it out on the street like this

With For Sale Signs?

(answer was: yes, it's the American way

And he bemoaned SF's autogeddon

So this is exactly how he'd do this

Can't make a big deal of this

Father and son make a joint decision

Just pull it out and throw up some signs)

Before I had my sixth thought

I found myself circling 

Looking for additional signs

Found them in the form of

Hunters Point Shipyard parking passes

On the front windshield

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's pickup truck for sale

On the fucking streets of San Francisco

My mind shouted:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But my mind also asked:

Are we too fucking late?

Is there a line of callers

Ahead of me?

???????????????????????????????????????

The answer?

Well I didn't knock on the front door

We took an Uber to our car

To make the call in a controlled environment

If the truck was already sold

I wanted to cry in private

Not out on the sidewalks of North Beach

Lorenzo his son

Sounds just like his Dad on the phone

Looks just like him too, I thought

When we met the family upstairs 

10 minutes later

I insisted we remain outside

On the sidewalk

But after the 3rd invitation to come up inside

I turned to my daughter and said

It would be rude to decline a 3rd invite

Steps carefully out of his front room

With no cane

Shaking hands, 45 days before 

His 100th birthday

And I didn't wilt in that big moment

I made him smile when I teased

"What's the deal, Mr. Ferlinghetti?

The Bancroft Library

Has no room for the truck?"

I'm standing in their apartment

Daughter at my side

She knows enough

To know what's happening

I whispered as we climbed the stairs:

We're going to meet Lawrence

I declined the invite for a test drive

We don't want to take up

Anymore of everyone's time

We can work out the details later

Then Mauro Aprile Zanetti 

Comes up the stairs

Lawrence's trusted secretary

And personal assistant

And I think right then

This is why we left 

The East Village & Brooklyn

For the redwoods

And for this man

For City Lights

It took a quarter century

Since my arrival

But this was the life I imagined

Fantasized about

San Francisco's Urban Forester

(top tree guru/nerd/hero/villain/lover)

And a little Sunday afternoon visit

With San Francisco's first family

Politely declined another invite 

To remain for coffee and baked goods

Fresh out of the oven

"We've taken up enough time"

Plus, we needed to get back to the Bayview

So I could change myself

Lie down on the fainting couch