For Moe Moskowitz

An Exemplary Bookseller

In my country
Astronomy was still
In its infancy
And so was space travel
My contemporaries
Still pondered in vain
On the mystery of how
The universe began
And how it will end
And there were no big news
On cancer, aids, heart
Disease and old age...
All these still plagued
Humanity since Adam and Eve
Since Noah's Ark
And Pandora's box
In this my century
In which I was born
A gentle heart
A bookseller died
Who was indefaguable
Selling buying and trading
Books and jokes
(Always in good humor)
With customers, old and young,
Seldom losing his cool
Loved by all— I asked him once
How he was— and he answered
Apart from some major problems
I'm fine— he was kind
And compassionate
To those who needed to go
To the bathroom— a rarity
In Berkeley— loved by all
Except perhaps by some book-traders
Under his busy and gruff manner
Expediting business
Ringing up sales
Neutralising magnetic charges
Next, next... Whose next?
And the flow of books
Ran through his hands
And those of his assistants
Smoothly a mighty river
On some days, a trickle
At other times
In this 4 story bookstore
On Telegraph Avenue
All through the middle
And the end of my century
And I too some times
In my book of human form
Went in and out of the store
Within easy reach
In and out of print
In my own personal century
Still ignorant about
The beginning or the end
Of the universe--
A gentle and kind bookseller
Moe Moskowitz— he will be truly
Missed and dearly remembered.

In my century
Nanos Valaoritis
Berkeley, the Mediterranean Cafe,
April 10th 1997