The first paragraph below is real. The other paragraphs are largely made-up.
Upstairs in the Poetry & Beat Literature room in the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco it was muggy, musty, but calm and infused with history. Beats! I knew little about them other than what could be gleaned from movies and television. I've not read any Kerouac and only a little Ginsberg. Gore Vidal in his memoir Palimpsest boasted of buggering Kerouac. Always the buggerer, never the buggeree. I stipulation I now know was common among homosexuals. Then, it seemed an odd and selfish admission from Vidal given his libertine reputation but typically offered few personal details.
Maybe he placed a silver dollar on Kerouac's back, who, when he caught his breath exclaimed: "I can use this!"
Above the bookshelves, posters ran round the room of poets that listed the year of the photo. Walt Whitman. Edna St. Vincent Millay. Anne Sexton.
A trigger was pulled and I stomped downstairs and yelled at the slight blond young man at the register with an earnest soft meticulous beard. "How can this place have a poster of Anne Sexton and not one of Sylvia Plath?" A pause. My loudness increased. "They're both American. I revere Anne Sexton. She's a personal favorite and I talk with her in dreams. But Plath is the better, stronger poet. What are the standards here? Is Plath thought of as too precious? Too much the purview of cloistered Women's Studies departments and sensitive teenage souls to be brought out for display? Break Plath free!" I stumbled over my tongue on the last sentence and repeated is more slowly and loudly. "Break Plath free! Bring her to the Pantheon upstairs! Set her among the stars!"
I blacked out. Then I came to. I was still in the City Lights Bookstore, seated at a corner table, my head resting against a bookshelf. A paper cup of water was in front of me and I sipped from it. My courier bag was set at my feet. I dragged the main zipper open to extract my large Moleskine journal. I fetched a pen, and opened my journal to see a series of blue and red marks and edits across the 30 or so pages I had already written up.
Violated, I looked closely and found myself agreeing with almost all the suggestions. I made faces at the excess of added commas. I am a devotee of the Oxford comma, but loathe when commas are added to indicate a pause as if in a speech. Not necessary. Ruins the flow.
I took myself, the cup of water, my bag, my pen, and my emended journal and exited the bookstore, placing a dollar in the tip jar for art, shame, and karma.