In my project to see the bookstores and libraries of the City, I have set up a Holy Grail, if you will.
I have required that the best bookstore of all time have at least one volume of poetry by Brit poet Wendy Cope.
It’s harder than it looks. Despite the fact that Garrison Keillor has literally beat the horse for glue with Cope’s poetry in Writer’s Almanac, and despite the fact that he has anthologized her, finding her poetry in a stand-alone volume is impossible at the very least in the following bookstores:
Barnes and Noble
Green Apple Books
Modern Times Books and Dog-Eared Books in the Mission
Black Oak Books
Great Overland Book Company
City Lights (Yeah, you read that right)
The San Francisco Public Library (They actually have ONE volume at the Main branch that is, and I quote, “Delayed Paging.” What the…?)
And I could understand if her poetry were obtuse imagery about a farm somewhere, but it’s not. Read for yourself, from my favorite cope poem that I would like to recite to someone someday, and not have him run away—
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
Simple, loving, reminding me of train rides home to Sunnyvale and feeling the rhythm of the train to Springsteen music…
Still, no dice. She’s like Billy Collins for women, and no dice.
Have you seen her? Tell me, have you seen her?