Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 10:15 pm
I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the
box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts
of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, sur-
rounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that
stream, no hermit in those mounts, just our-
selves rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums
on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--
--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,
memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes
Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black
treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the
poem of the riverbank, condoms pots, steel
knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck
and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the
past--
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog
and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like
a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,
soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sun-
rays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried
wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures
from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster
fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O
my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man's grime but death and human
locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad
skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black
mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuber-
ance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial--
modern--all that civilization spotting your
crazy golden crown--
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless
eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the
home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar
bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards
of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely
tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what
more could I name, the smoked ashes of some
cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the
milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs
sphincters of dynamos--all these
entangled in your mummied roots--and you there
standing before me in the sunset, all your glory
in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your
grime, while you cursed the heavens of the rail-
road and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a
flower? when did you look at your skin and
decide you were an impotent dirty old locomo-
tive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
shade of a once powerful mad American locomo-
tive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a
sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me
not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
too, and anyone who'll listen,
--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're bles-
sed by our own seed golden hairy naked ac-
complishment-bodies growing into mad black
formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit-
down vision.

Allen Ginsburg
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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 10,681 • Replies: 81

 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 11:03 pm
Thank you Edgar. I just read this poem to MA.

I've always thought that Ginsburg work was written to be read aloud, rather than to be just read. Even when what he says does not make much sense, it is captivating in its originality. It is like listening to a jazz composition on a heavy summer night .
0 Replies
 
J-B
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Oct, 2007 06:15 am
It's a sunny tale.

Thanks Edgar.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Oct, 2007 06:26 am
Gritty enough for me.
Thanks Edgar, always liked the combination of out loud poems by Ginsburg or Ferlingetti. I remember hearing people read his work when I was a little kid in the late 50's and I never understaood what everybody was saying. SO , when I reached high school, these poets were already out of favor and I hadda read em on my own while everybody else was into "rock opera".
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Oct, 2007 09:32 am
There are those who think of me as a poet. I am not one of them. James Joyce also tried to write poetry. Some of his works are adequate, but, if I am not mistaken, he saw himself as a failed poet. Ginsburg, in my view, wrote some true poems, plus an array of failed or near poetry. Sunflower Sutra paints a very good abstract of himself and Kerouac, and his "sunflower" vision, and to me it is a great poem, one of his best. Allen Ginsburg is the sort of writer I like to revisit every so often to shake up my own vision a little. Not so that I would emulate other writers in my own work, you understand, but, because the mind can otherwise grow dull.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Oct, 2007 10:40 am
I think of Allianthus trees in the same way Ginsburg writes about the sunflower. Ive often stood and looked behind the scuffled up piles of dirt that contain broken glass and hunks of metal:All behind a broken and bashed up chain link fence-only to see an Allianthus growing out of the soil.
In NJ they callem "Ghetto trees"

To me the message of persistence resounds
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Oct, 2007 11:05 am
I see the same thing in Dylan Thomas that I see in Ginsburg, edgar. I have never read that poem, but it explicates stark reality and a voice of hope in a simple wild flower; however, I love this poem by Joyce that is so wonderfully assonant.

All Day I Hear the Noise of Waters


All day I hear the noise of waters
Making moan,
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
Forth alone,
He hears the winds cry to the water's
Monotone.

The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
Far below.
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.

James Joyce
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Oct, 2007 11:21 am
Joyce needs more grit.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 12:51 pm
Great photos of Ginsburg, Bob Dylan and many beat authors.
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 01:12 pm
Something tells me this poem by one of Ginsburg's influences played no small part in the gestation of Sunflower Sutra:

Ah! Sun-flower

William Blake

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time.
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire.
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 01:30 pm
Gargamel wrote:
Something tells me this poem by one of Ginsburg's influences played no small part in the gestation of Sunflower Sutra:

Ah! Sun-flower

William Blake

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time.
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire.
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.


You may be right, since Ginsburg's buddies, Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferburg (the Fugs) composed Ah! Sunflower and recorded it on their second album.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 06:00 pm
Edgar et al

Merry Andrew and I have to bore you with our Ginsburg story.

Back in the day when we were young newspaper types, we were invited to a sendoff party in the Queens for a fellow news person who was heading to Vietnam to cover the war.

It was a wonderful party, the conversations were great and the booze flowed freely. Then, Ginsburg sauntered in, wearing a cowboy hat and a newspaper tucked under his arm. He walked over to the tv and flicked it on to watch himself being interviewed by William F. Buckley on The Firing Line.

He sat down in a chair in front of the tv, shushed everyone in the living room and told them if they wanted to talk to go out to the kitchen.

After the interview was finished, he got up, poured himself a drink, drank it and left.

Odd duck that man
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 06:30 pm
Sglass wrote:
Edgar et al

Merry Andrew and I have to bore you with our Ginsburg story.

Back in the day when we were young newspaper types, we were invited to a sendoff party in the Queens for a fellow news person who was heading to Vietnam to cover the war.

It was a wonderful party, the conversations were great and the booze flowed freely. Then, Ginsburg sauntered in, wearing a cowboy hat and a newspaper tucked under his arm. He walked over to the tv and flicked it on to watch himself being interviewed by William F. Buckley on The Firing Line.

He sat down in a chair in front of the tv, shushed everyone in the living room and told them if they wanted to talk to go out to the kitchen.

After the interview was finished, he got up, poured himself a drink, drank it and left.

Odd duck that man


Just as Kerouac described him.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 07:01 pm
The West Villiage was unreal in the 60's. You couldnt cross the street that you didn't run into "Somebody". I lived two buildings from Dustin Hoffman. The Weathermen later bombed the apartment he lived in.

Never a dull moment.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 07:12 pm
I lived in Brooklyn in 1968, worked in Manhattan. I visited Greenwich Village a number of times, but wasn't lucky enough to see anybody - not assertive enough to seek them out.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Oct, 2007 05:47 am
One of the more notable watering holes in the Village was a a place called The Lion's Head on Christopher Street where the crew from the Village Voice hung out not to mention the princes of the literary world.

If you can imagine walking into a place and and see folks like Pete Hamill, Norman Mailer and Tom Wolf going at it, naught but sparkling repartee. It was awesome. And if one was there at closing and the Clancy Brothers were in town you might be invited to stay for an after-hours concert.

I have wonderful memories of the Village.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Oct, 2007 02:18 pm
An interesting side note viz a viz Kerouac is that 2007 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of "On The Road" and the scroll version of his manuscript is being shown at the Booth Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell, MA until the end of October. Lowell was his home.

Kerouac was a speed typist, about 100 words a minute on a manual typewriter. He typed the "scroll" manuscript in three weeks. Instead of putting paper in and taking paper out of the typewriter, he taped the pages together to avoid interuption of the flow of his work.

The bulk of his estate, which was his literary output and correspondence from members of "The Beat Generation" writers is in the hands of his brother-in-law John Sampas. To my knowledge Sampas has yet allowed public examination of Kerouac's personal papers.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Oct, 2007 03:04 pm
"But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I have always been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time; the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like a fabulous yellow candle exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww."

Jack Kerouac
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Oct, 2007 04:51 pm
Kerouac had some good passages in him, in spite of Truman Capote. I would one day like to gather my favorites of his books to read through them a bit. I haven't held one in my hands since sometime in the 1970s.
0 Replies
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Oct, 2007 06:11 pm
If my memory doesn't fail me I believe Capote said, "isn't writing, it's typing."

Of course Capote came from a different generation and social background, mint julips and magnolias in the moonlight, whereas Kerouac, the son of French Canadian immigrants that settled in a middle class mill town, Lowell, Massachusetts, grew up drinking boiler makers.

Now do you intend to reread Kerouac or Capote? Both ever so fascinating.
0 Replies
 
 

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