1. San Francisco Has Been Poisoned
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San Francisco Has Been Poisoned

Rereading Tales of the City it struck me.
San Francisco has been poisoned.
Famous as the place to go,
"With flowers in your hair,"
During "The Summer of Love."
It was the place where Harvey Milk
Wanted to recruit you
To the cause of Social Justice.
Kids came there
To live on the cheap
And find liberation
From how it was and always would be
Back home.
It was a revolution
But it came with conflicts and costs.
Harvey Milk stood up to Anita Bryant
And was martyred for it.
The murderer got off on a plea of
"The twinkies made me do it."
But later killed himself
Probably over his own conflicts.
The sexual revolution
Was also fertile ground for AIDS.
And while the "ways back home"
Still denied the Elephant of Death in the room,
San Franciscans died in droves
And tried to teach the world to care.
Even through that struggle,
The gritty, revolution of body and mind
Marched on.
Like many "girls from Cleveland,"
I came to "The Holy Land"
To sip the cup
Of psycho-social sexual liberation.
Friends of mine emigrated,
But I only visited --
The Annual Pilgrimage.
How wonderful to walk The Castro naked.
Visiting shops and hanging out
While "it all" did hang out.
Indeed the local naturists
Organized brunches
And visits to rather nice wine bars
All in the buff.
What a surprise to look there now
And see the changes.
Money was the poison.
If the Milk story
Is to be believed,
The moneyed A-Gays
Wanted nothing to do
With Harvey's bare knuckle fight.
Thirty years later,
The naturist, body freedom activists
Were bad-faith negotiated
Into obscurity and
Re-institutionalized hassles.
Naked in the restaurants of the Castro
Doesn't happen any more.
My SF emigree friends,
Many of them got in on the ground floor
And made it big!
Others found themselves on a treadmill.
Toiling at companies run by
The Morally Handicapped.
Finally managing to keep a job
But struggling to keep pace
With the rising cost of living.
Others simply left.
My Annual Pilgrimage?
Why bother?
Piece by piece
I'm assembling
An emancipated life
With an emancipated husband
And almost enough
Freedom from clothes.
Now it costs too much to live there
And too much to go there.
Your home and your car
Get broken into regularly
By the poor folks
Stuck in the quicksand
That was always there
But made worse, not better
As Money --
Prosperity without compassion
Made San Francisco
The place to escape
Instead of the place to go.

28 May 2021

by Bill Cattey