‘Meet Me at the Lighthouse’

Dana Gioia is the author of five full-length poetry collections and a recipient of the Aiken-Taylor Award for lifetime achievement in American poetry

This is a photo of Dana Gioia was appointed California's Poet Laureate by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015.
Dana Gioia was appointed California’s Poet Laureate by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015.

Meet me at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach,
That shabby nightclub on its foggy pier.
Let’s aim for the summer of ’71,
When all our friends were young and immortal.

I’ll pick up the cover charge, find us a table,
And order a round of their watery drinks.
Let’s savor the smoke of that sinister century,
Perfume of tobacco in the tangy salt air.

The crowd will be quiet — only ghosts at the bar —
So you, old friend, won’t feel out of place.
You need a night out from that dim subdivision.
Tell Mr. Bones you’ll be back before dawn.

The club has booked the best talent in Tartarus.
Gerry, Cannonball, Hampton, and Stan,
With Chet and Art, those gorgeous greenhorns —
The swinging-masters of our West Coast soul.

Let the All-Stars shine from that jerry-built stage.
Let their high notes shimmer above the cold waves.
Time and the tide are counting the beats.
Death the collector is keeping the tab.

A reading of this poem is featured on the jazz album “Sung with Words” by Helen Sung.

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