Time on Larimer Street
The Silver Dollar Liquor store
At 20th and Larimer in Denver
is where I got painted human.
Each Spring day in 1950 the Trolley
would take me from Shelly and Keats
to the Larimer Street skid Row.
The four-block walk from 16th
rinsed off my University sheen
with the puke and piss of reality.
Each night shift liquor store window
I saw the filthy ashes of burned out
men and women.
Winos came in to buy
a bottle of 50-cent Muscatel wine
with the 49 cents they had begged all day.
Credit good as gold
sure to pay off next
good credit all they had left.
Winos sitting against the wall seeping
winos lying on the sidewalk sleeping
street walking whores stepping gingerly.
Rookie cops shaking awake and moving
the traffic blocker
and pouring their booze in the gutter.
Rookies working their way off this street
demoted veterans discouraged with the street
demonstrated the brutality so common.
After an 8 hour shift
behind my learning window
it was back on the trolley back to University Avenue.
The stage at Larimer and 20th
had a cast of characters so sorry
that Dickens never matched’.
But Neal Cassady hung out here
and brought Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg
and Denver contributed to the concept of BEAT.
I was naive never again, perhaps a bit beat,
but nothing about human behavior
would surprise again.
But cynicism gave way to reality
when I visited Larimer Square
and saw what humans can do.
Luxury hotels replace the old Metropolitan Hotel
and new watering holes
where the Golden Nugget Taproom served.
The Jewel of the Rockies has replace
the Latimer pigpen like Andersonville
the skidrow is hardly a footnote in history
The very sight of Larimer Square
posses the question of why
it takes so long to be as good as we can be.
April 21, 2014