Saturday, December 02, 2006



A Funny Thing Happened

At the Kefa Café.

I arrived as usual, 6 PM or a little after.

However early I arrive, Lene and Ababe, the owners

have already arranged the chairs for my Salon

This evening Sarah Browning of D.C. Poets Against War is to read.

I get my coffee and Sarah gets a bottle of water.

Ababe at the counter, says “Two people called

They wanted to know if someone named Baldwin is reading.”


The only Baldwin I know is James.

And maybe the piano.

Sarah runs to where Ababe and Lene stack The City Paper

and sure enough the listing says, “James Baldwin will read with Sarah Browning.”

When I watch James Baldwin on TV on American Masters, I wish,

I had arrived in America soon enough to see him, in person,

As I saw Allen Ginsburg once and Robert Creeley

in Philadelphia.

So we intended to invoke the ghost of James Baldwin at the Kefa Café,

this Christmas, but in the end we forgot.

Sarah said she edited out the most painful of her Iraq poems

because she saw the lady in the audience, who said she came because her friend’s

Son had just died in Iraq, was crying.

I didn’t see her crying because I was watching Sarah read.

But I thought the lady’s face did look very red and blotchy.

And rather swollen.

I cry too at poetry readings, at the movies and at weddings.

And I do not even yet have, someone I know who knows someone

who died in Iraq,

but the taxi driver says, he has driven, many amputees and their


from Walter Reed on Georgia Avenue (Route 29)

“Even had a meal with one family at McDonald’s


Copyright Kyi May Kaung