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24th May 2023 in

Current Hotel Carver/John Bull Pub
The pub was around the back to the right

First, a little history. The John Bull Pub occupied a building that was built in the late 1800s at 107 S. Fair Oaks Ave. In the 1940s it became the Hotel Carver, the first black-owned hotel in Pasadena. In 1970 the hotel became housing for artists and musicians...and the John Bull Pub. It continued that way until 1985. I don't remember when I wrote this poem in the pub. It was likely shortly after I had turned 21 in the early 80s. No one knew that the life of the pub would end so soon.

The photo at the top of the page shows the Hotel Carver on the right-hand side of the street with the "Go Farther" sign. (Sorry, if you're on a phone or tablet you might not be able to see it - the image is responsive but the building's not in the center of the photo.) It was taken in 1941. The John Bull was created about 30 years later around the back of the building.



Written ca. 1982 at the John Bull Pub, Pasadena, CA (The old one)

Horns and traffic from around the corner

echo from sun-stained golden windows
high above the street.

John Bull in the 1970s

Heated waves of sidewalk
Shudder in the sunset glare.
Newspapers blow in the draft
of passing cars, then fly in the faces of those
whose lives lay open on the page.

Within the alley,
moss and ivy-covered red brick walls
square a courtyard in the shade.
Sweat drips down an icy glass
And curls through twisted, wrought iron vines
to fall upon an oh-so-well-turned knee
bent beneath the iron tangle
covered by a pressed, white cloth – just so.

Dark and cool within the red brick walls,
Poe finds Fortunato: “Sweet amontillado before we rest!”
Within the walls, we don the mask.
Health is drunk and toasts are raised.
Fearless we nameless revelers sing
while brick by brick the outside world
gives way to tangled night,
under the cool, white moon – just so.

Across the valley to the north, beyond the frenzy,
the mountains thrust and rise.
Streams run while the forest quiets.
Stars shine above the pines.
Somewhere, a fawn beneath a tangle
echoes moonlight in its eyes,
while in the frenzy far below, a newspaper settles on an empty street
under the cool, white moon - just so.



Mariska (Oskam… (not verified)     May 27

Your words have a nice flow and it was easy enjoy the images they created. Just wanted to say thanks because it's rare for me to enjoy poetry.

Kent     June 14

In reply to by Mariska (Oskam… (not verified)

Thanks Mariska, much appreciated words!

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