Saturday, December 31, 2011

A tribute to Vikram Seth

The enchanted bookstore, vast, rectangular,
Fluorescent-lit, with Bach piped through
The glamorous alleys of its angular
Warren of bookshelves, the dark brew
Of French roast or Sumatra rousing
One's weak papillae as one's browsing
Lead to the famed cups, soon or late,
That cheer but don't inebriate.
Magical shoe box! Skilled extractor
Of my last dime on print or drink,
Mini-Montmartre, Printers Inc!
Haven of book freaks, benefactor
Of haggard hacks like me, who've been
Quivering for years to your caffeine.
The Golden Gate 8.14

The books at Printers Inc. are gone now.
A wall blots out the view from where
My bitter-rich americano
Scrawls steam upon the winter air
Of recesses where they once spangled
The rows of shelves, black, stately-angled;
Where once you glimpsed that ordered world
A sandwich menu is unfurled,
Whose jagged letters've condescended
To spell endless ingredient lists.
For baffling onomasticists,
They've kept the name, "Cafe" appended,
For — now — just one more place to have
Coffee on California Ave.

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