What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles
full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! --- and you,
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and
followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does
your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to
shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and
stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the
starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the
supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of
cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels
staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkan-
sas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes
on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in
wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt
of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or
purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind
leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunk-
enness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring
winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy
Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought
them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain
all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out and sat
through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the
crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue
to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire
escapes off windowsills of Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and
anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with
brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous
picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of
China under junk-withdrawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wonder-
ing where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward
lonesome farms in grandfather night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah
because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels
who were visionary indian angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse
of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or
soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but
the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts
with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incompre-
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and
undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and
wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before
the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for
committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof
waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and
screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of
Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of
public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whom-
ever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind
a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to
pierce them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew
of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the
womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass
and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom.
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a
package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued
along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with
a vision of ultimate **** and come eluding the last gyzym of con-
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and
were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of
the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C.,
secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver--joy to
the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner
backyards, moviehouses' rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or
with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings
& especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a
sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hung-
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams
& stumbled to unemployment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks
waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steam-
heat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hud-
son under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy
bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions
and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to
build harpsichords in their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the
tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in
the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming
of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside
of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and
were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were
growing old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue
amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regi-
ments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertis-
ing & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down
by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked
away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown
soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window,
jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the
street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph
records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whis-
key and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears
and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to the each other's
hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you
had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver
& waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver
is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other's salva-
tion and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals
with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang
sweet blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha
or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with
their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently
presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with
shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instanta-
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity
hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & am-
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table,
resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and
fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns
of the East,
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the
echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to
stone as heavy as the moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the
tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 a.m. and the last
telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room
emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper
rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary,
nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination--
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you're really in the
total animal soup of time--
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash
of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images
juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual
images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of
consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before
you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet
confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his
naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here
what might be left to say in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow
of the band and blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love
into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered
the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies
good to eat a thousand years.
Ginsberg was born on June 3, 1926 into a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey. His father Louis Ginsberg was a poet and his mother was a high school teacher. Ginsberg's mother, Naomi Levy Ginsberg (who was affected by epileptic seizures and mental illnesses such as paranoia) was an active member of the Communist Party USA and often took Ginsberg and his brother Eugene to party meetings. Ginsberg later said that his mother "Made up bedtime stories that all went something like: 'The good king rode forth from his castle, saw the suffering workers and healed them.'"
As a gay teenager, Ginsberg began to write letters to The New York Times about political issues such as World War II and workers' rights. When he was a junior in high school, he accompanied his mother by bus to her therapist. The trip disturbed Ginsberg and he later described it, along with his relationship with his mother, in his long autobiographical poem "Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956)." While in high school, Ginsberg began reading Walt Whitman.
In 1943 Ginsberg graduated from high school and briefly attended Montclair State University before entering Columbia University on a scholarship from the Young Men's Hebrew Association of Paterson. (1949). In his freshman year he met fellow undergraduate Lucien Carr, who introduced him to a number of future Beat writers including Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and John Clellon Holmes. Carr also introduced Ginsberg to Neal Cassady, one of the many that Ginsberg loved. Kerouac later described the meeting between Ginsberg and Cassady in the first chapter of his 1957 novel On the Road.
In 1954 Ginsberg met Peter Orlovsky, a young man of 21 with whom he fell in love and who remained his life-long lover, and with whom he eventually shared his interest in Tibetan Buddhism. Later in his life, Ginsberg formed a bridge between the Beat movement of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s, befriending, among others, Timothy Leary, Gregory Corso, Ken Kesey, Bob Kaufman, Herbert Huncke, Rod McKuen, and Bob Dylan.
In 1965 Ginsberg was deported from Cuba for publicly protesting against Cuba's anti-marijuana stance and its penchant for throwing homosexuals in jail, but also for an alleged remark referring to revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara as "cute."
The Cubans sent him to Czechoslovakia, where one week after being named the King of a May Day parade, Ginsberg was labeled an "immoral menace" by the Czech government and deported.
In 1982, he was featured on "Ghetto Defendant", a song by The Clash, on their album "Combat Rock".
Rage Against the Machine performed "Hadda be Playin' on a Jukebox", a poem of Ginsbergs, at a live concert. The song is available on their "Live & Rare" album, released in 1998.
Ginsberg is referenced in the popular broadway show Rent (musical) via the song La Vie Boheme.
Allen Ginsberg died on April 5, 1997, surrounded by family and friends in his East Village loft in New York City. He succumbed to liver cancer via complications of Hepatitis. He was 70 years old.
Ginsberg's poetry was strongly influenced by modernism, romanticism, the beat and cadence of jazz, and his Kagyu Buddhist practice and Jewish background. He considered himself to have inherited the visionary and homoerotic poetic mantle handed from the English poet and artist William Blake on to Walt Whitman. The power of Ginsberg's verse, its searching, probing focus, its long and lilting lines, as well as its New World exuberance, all echo the continuity of inspiration which he claimed. Other influences included the American poet William Carlos Williams.
Ginsberg's principal work, "Howl", is well-known to many for its opening line: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness". It was considered scandalous at the time of publication due to the rawness of the language, which is frequently explicit. Shortly after its 1956 publication by San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore, it was banned for obscenity. The ban became a cause célèbre among defenders of the First Amendment, and was later lifted after judge Clayton W. Horn declared the poem to possess redeeming social importance. Ginsberg's leftist and generally anti-establishment politics attracted the attention of the FBI, who regarded Ginsberg as a major security threat.
Ginsberg's spiritual journey began early on with his reported spontaneous visions, and continued with an early trip to India and a chance encounter on a New York City street (they both tried to catch the same cab) with Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master of the Vajrayana school, who became his friend and life-long teacher. Ginsberg helped found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, a school founded by Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. Music and chanting were both important parts of his live delivery during poetry readings. He often accompanied himself on a handheld organ called a harmonium, and was often accompanied by a guitarist. Attendance to his poetry readings was generally standing room only for most of his career, no matter where in the world he appeared.
Ginsberg won the National Book Award for his book "The Fall of America." In 1993, the French Minister of Culture awarded him with the medal of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (the Order of Arts and Letters).
In 1994, when the International Lesbian and Gay Association successfully banished all connections to the North American Man-Boy Love Association in order to gain consultative status in the United Nations, Ginsberg publicly opposed the move (together with modern gay rights founder Harry Hay). He stated that he supported NAMBLA's right to free speech, and that the hysteria over pederasty reminded him of the hysteria over homosexuality itself while he was growing up.
He spent 8 months in a mental institution for his own mental illness, where he met Carl Solomon. This is the Carl referred to in "Howl".
Role in Anti-Vietnam Protests
Ginsberg also played a key role in ensuring that a 1965 protest of the Vietnam war which took place at the Oakland-Berkeley city line and drew several thousand marchers was not violently interrupted by the California chapter of the notorious motorcycle gang - the Hell's Angels - and their leader, Sonny Barger.
The day prior to the scheduled march, the Angels attacked the front line of a smaller scale protest where a confrontation between police and demonstrators was brewing. The Angels came in on bikes and slashed banners while yelling "Go back to Russia, you ******* communists!" at the protestors. The Angels then vowed to disrupt the larger protest the next day.
Ginsberg traveled to Barger's home in Oakland to talk the situation through. It is rumored that he offered Barger and other members of the Angels LSD as a gesture of friendship/goodwill. In the end, Barger and the other Angels that were present came away deeply impressed by the courage of Ginsberg and his companion Kesey. They vowed not to attack the protest the next day and furthermore deemed Ginsberg a man who was worth helping out.
Howl and Other Poems (1956)
Kaddish and Other Poems (1961)
Reality Sandwiches (1963)
The Yage Letters (1963) - with William S. Burroughs
Planet News (1968)
The Gates of Wrath: Rhymed Poems 1948-1951 (1972)
The Fall of America: Poems of These States (1973)
Iron Horse (1972)
Mind Breaths (1978)
Plutonian Ode: Poems 1977-1980 (1982)
Collected Poems: 1947-1980 (1984)
White Shroud Poems: 1980-1985 (1986)
Cosmopolitan Greetings Poems: 1986-1993 (1994)
Howl Annotated (1995)
Illuminated Poems (1996)
Selected Poems: 1947-1995 (1996)
Death and Fame: Poems 1993-1997 (1999)
Clark, Thomas. "Allen Ginsberg." Writers at Work - The Paris Review Interviews. 3.1 (1968) pp.279-320.
Miles, Barry. Ginsberg: A Biography. London: Virgin Publishing Ltd. (2001), paperback, 628 pages, ISBN 0753504863
Schumacher, Michael (edt.). Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son. Bloomsbury (2002), paperback, 448 pages, ISBN 1582342164
Schumacher, Michael. Dharma Lion: A Biography of Allen Ginsberg. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
Bullough, Vern L. "Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context." Harrington Park Press, 2002. pp 304-311.
Fri 30 Jun, 2006 08:10 pm
Footnote to Howl
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand
and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is
holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an
The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is
holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is
holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy
Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cas-
sady holy the unknown buggered and suffering
beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks
of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop
apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana
hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy
the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the
mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the
middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebell-
ion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria &
Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the
clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy
the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina-
tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
kindness of the soul!
Sat 1 Jul, 2006 11:38 am
The story of man
Makes me sick
I don't know why
Something so conditional
And all talk
Should hurt me so.
I am hurt
I am scared
I want to live
I want to die
I don't know
Where to turn
In the Void
For no Church told me
No Guru holds me
Of New York
And on the cafeteria
O dead Ruby
Died of Shot
In Thirty Two,
Sounding like old times
And de bombed
Murder by the clock.
And I see Shadows
Dancing into Doom
In love, holding
TIght the lovely asses
Of the little girls
In love with sex
In white undergarments
At elevated windows
Hoping for the Worst.
I can't take it
If I can't hold
My little behind
To me in my room
Then it's goodbye
Girls aren't as good
As they look
Than you think
When it starts in
Hitting your head
In with Buzz
We've been waiting for you
Since Morning, Jack
Why were you so long
Dallying in the sooty room?
This transcendental Brilliance
Is the better part
Sat 1 Jul, 2006 05:07 pm
O, We Are The Outcasts
ah, christ, what a CREW:
poetry, always more
P O E T R Y .
if it doesn't come, coax it out with a
laxative. get your name in LIGHTS,
get it up there in
8 1/2 x 11 mimeo.
keep it coming like a miracle.
ah christ, writers are the most sickening
of all the louts!
gutless, flea-bitten and
obvious . . . in tinker-toy rooms
with their flabby hearts
they tell us
what's wrong with the world-
as if we didn't know that a cop's club
can crack the head
and that war is a dirtier game than
marriage . . .
or down in a basement bar
hiding from a wife who doesn't appreciate him
and children he doesn't
he tells us that his heart is drowning in
vomit. hell, all our hearts are drowning in vomit,
in pork salt, in bad verse, in soggy
but he thinks he's alone and
he thinks he's special and he thinks he's Rimbaud
and he thinks he's
and death! how about death? did you know
that we all have to die? even Keats died, even
and D. Thomas-THEY KILLED HIM, of course.
Thomas didn't want all those free drinks
all that free pussy-
they . . . FORCED IT ON HIM
when they should have left him alone so he could
write write WRITE!
and there's another
type. I've met them at their country
places (don't ask me what I was doing there because
I don't know).
they were born with money and
they don't have to dirty their hands in
slaughterhouses or washing
dishes in grease joints or
driving cabs or pimping or selling pot.
this gives them time to understand
they walk in with their cocktail glass
held about heart high
and when they drink they just
you are drinking green beer which you
brought with you
because you have found out through the years
that rich bastards are tight-
they use 5 cent stamps instead of airmail
they promise to have all sorts of goodies ready
upon your arrival
from gallons of whisky to
50 cent cigars. but it's never
and they HIDE their women from you-
their wives, x-wives, daughters, maids, so forth,
because they've read your poems and
figure all you want to do is **** everybody and
everything. which once might have been
true but is no longer quite
he WRITES TOO.
he has plenty of time and a
postoffice box in town
and he drives there 3 or 4 times a day
looking and hoping for accepted
he thinks that poverty is a weakness of the
he thinks your mind is ill because you are
drunk all the time and have to work in a
factory 10 or 12 hours a
he brings his wife in, a beauty, stolen from a
he lets you gaze for 30 seconds
then hustles her
out. she has been crying for some
you've got 3 or 4 days to linger in the
guesthouse he says,
"come on over to dinner
but he doesn't say when or
where. and then you find out that you are not even
IN HIS HOUSE.
you are in
ONE of his houses but
his house is somewhere
you don't know
he even has x-wives in some of his
his main concern is to keep his x-wives away from
you. he doesn't want to give up a
damn thing. and you can't blame him:
his x-wives are all young, stolen, kept,
talented, well-dressed, schooled, with
varying French-German accents.
WRITE POETRY TOO. or
but his big problem is to get down to that mail
box in town to get back his
and to keep his eye on all the other mail boxes
in all his other
meanwhile, the starving Indians
sell beads and baskets in the streets of the small desert
the Indians are not allowed in his houses
not so much because they are a ****-threat
but because they are
ignorant. dirty? I look down at my shirt
with the beerstain on the front.
ignorant? I light a 6 cent cigar and
he or they or somebody was supposed to meet me at
of course, they weren't
there. "We'll be there to meet the great
well, I looked around and didn't see any
great poet. besides it was 7 a.m. and
40 degrees. those things
happen. the trouble was there were no
bars open. nothing open. not even a
he's a poet.
he's also a doctor, a head-shrinker.
no blood involved that
way. he won't tell me whether I am crazy or
not-I don't have the
he walks out with his cocktail glass
disappears for 2 hours, 3 hours,
then suddenly comes walking back in
with the same cocktail glass
to make sure I haven't gotten hold of
something more precious than
my cheap green beer is killing
me. he shows heart (hurrah) and
gives me a little pill that stops my
but nothing decent to
he'd bought a small 6 pack
for my arrival but that was gone in an
hour and 15
"I'll buy you barrels of beer," he had
I used his phone (one of his phones)
to get deliveries of beer and
cheap whisky. the town was ten miles away,
downhill. I peeled my poor dollars from my poor
roll. and the boy needed a tip, of
the way it was shaping up I could see that I was
hardly Dylan Thomas yet, not even
Robert Creeley. certainly Creeley wouldn't have
had beerstains on his
anyhow, when I finally got hold of one of his
x-wives I was too drunk to
scared too. sure, I imagined him peering
through the window-
he didn't want to give up a damn thing-
leveling the luger while I was
while "The March to the Gallows" was playing over
and shooting me in the ass first and
my poor brain
"an intruder," I could hear him telling them,
"ravishing one of my helpless x-wives."
I see him published in some of the magazines
now. not very good stuff.
a poem about me
too: the Polack.
the Polack whines too much. the Polack whines about his
country, other countries, all countries, the Polack
works overtime in a factory like a fool, among other
fools with "pre-drained spirits."
the Polack drinks seas of green beer
full of acid. the Polack has an ulcerated
hemorrhoid. the Polack picks on fags
"fragile fags." the Polack hates his
wife, hates his daughter. his daughter will become
an alcoholic, a prostitute. the Polack has an
"obese burned out wife." the Polack has a
spastic gut. the Polack has a
thank you, Doctor (and poet). any charge for
this? I know I still owe you for the
Your poem is not too good
but at least I got your starch up.
most of your stuff is about as lively as a
wet and deflated
beachball. but it is your round, you've won a round.
going to invite me out this
Summer? I might scrape up
trainfare. got an Indian friend who'd like to meet
you and yours. he swears he's got the biggest
pecker in the state of California.
and guess what?
Sat 1 Jul, 2006 05:21 pm
I read the first two Ginsburgs, half the Ginsburg bio and the Bukowski.
I don't like Kerouac.
Mon 3 Jul, 2006 04:56 am
First Party At Ken Kesey's With Hell's Angels
Cool black night thru redwoods
cars parked outside in shade
behind the gate, stars dim above
the ravine, a fire burning by the side
porch and a few tired souls hunched over
in black leather jackets. In the huge
wooden house, a yellow chandelier
at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers
hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles
Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths
dancing to the vibration thru the floor,
a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man
sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man
sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks.
And 4 police cars parked outside the painted
gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.
Tue 4 Jul, 2006 08:15 am
Feb. 29, 1958
Last nite I dreamed of T.S. Eliot
welcoming me to the land of dream
Sofas couches fog in England
Tea in his digs Chelsea rainbows
curtains on his windows, fog seeping in
the chimney but a nice warm house
and an incredibly sweet hooknosed
Eliot he loved me, put me up,
gave me a couch to sleep on,
conversed kindly, took me serious
asked my opinion on Mayakovsky
I read him Corso Creeley Kerouac
advised Burroughs Olson Huncke
the bearded lady in the Zoo, the
intelligent puma in Mexico City
6 chorus boys from Zanzibar
who chanted in wornout polygot
Swahili, and the rippling rythyms
of Ma Rainey and Vachel Lindsay.
On the Isle of the Queen
we had a long evening's conversation
Then he tucked me in my long
red underwear under a silken
blanket by the fire on the sofa
gave me English Hottie
and went off sadly to his bed,
Saying ah Ginsberg I am glad
to have met a fine young man like you.
At last, I woke ashamed of myself.
Is he that good and kind? Am I that great?
What's my motive dreaming his
manna? What English Department
would that impress? What failure
to be perfect prophet's made up here?
I dream of my kindness to T.S. Eliot
wanting to be a historical poet
and share in his finance of Imagery-
overambitious dream of eccentric boy.
God forbid my evil dreams come true.
Last nite I dreamed of Allen Ginsberg.
T.S. Eliot would've been ashamed of me.
Tue 4 Jul, 2006 09:45 am
The Day The Pentagon Was Supposed to Lift Off Into Space
On Saturday, October 21, 1967, Washington, D.C., was rocked by a mass gathering. At least 100,000 people streamed into the nation's capital that autumn weekend, most of them college-age men and women, many of them students eligible for the military draft, all there to protest the Vietnam War. At the time, about 500 soldiers were dying in Vietnam every month, and more and more Americans were coming to dispute President Johnson's resolve to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion. That weekend crowds of antiwar activists and GIs met face-to-face, and history was made.
Fri 7 Jul, 2006 09:21 pm
Under silver wing
San Francisco's towers sprouting
thru thin gas clouds,
Tamalpais black-breasted above Pacific azure
Berkeley hills pine-covered below--
Dr Leary in his brown house scribing Independence
typewriter at window
silver panorama in natural eyeball--
Sacramento valley rivercourse's Chinese
dragonflames licking green flats north-hazed
State Capitol metallic rubble, dry checkered fields
to Sierras- past Reno, Pyramid Lake's
blue Altar, pure water in Nevada sands'
brown wasteland scratched by tires
Jerry Rubin arrested! Beaten, jailed,
Leary out of action--"a public menace...
persons of tender years...immature
i.e. Shut up or Else Loonybin or Slam
Leroi on bum gun rap, $7,000
lawyer fees, years' negotiations--
SPOCK GUILTY headlined temporary, Joan Baez'
paramour husband Dave Harris to Gaol
Dylan silent on politics, & safe--
having a baby, a man--
Cleaver shot at, jail'd, maddened, parole revoked,
Vietnam War flesh-heap grows higher,
blood splashing down the mountains of bodies
on to Cholon's sidewalks--
Blond boys in airplane seats fed technicolor
Murderers advance w/ Death-chords
Earplugs in, steak on plastic
served--Eyes up to the Image--
What do I have to lose if America falls?
my body? my neck? my personality?
Sun 9 Jul, 2006 01:30 pm
CIA Dope Calypso
In nineteen hundred forty-nine
China was won by Mao Tse-tung
Chiang Kai Shek's army ran away
They were waiting there in Thailand yesterday
Supported by the CIA
Pushing junk down Thailand way
First they stole from the Meo Tribes
Up in the hills they started taking bribes
Then they sent their soldiers up to Shan
Collecting opium to send to The Man
Pushing junk in Bangkok yesterday
Supported by the CIA
Brought their jam on mule trains down
To Chiang Mai that's a railroad town
Sold it next to the police chief's brain
He took it to town on the choochoo train
Trafficking dope to Bangkok all day
Supported by the CIA
The policeman's name was Mr. Phao
He peddled dope grand scale and how
Chief of border customs paid
By Central Intelligence's U.S. aid
The whole operation, Newspapers say
Supported by the CIA
He got so sloppy and peddled so loose
He busted himself and cooked his own goose
Took the reward for the opium load
Seizing his own haul which same he resold
Big time pusher for a decade turned grey
Working for the CIA
Touby Lyfong he worked for the French
A big fat man liked to dine & wench
Prince of the Meos he grew black mud
Till opium flowed through the land like a flood
Communists came and chased the French away
So Touby took a job with the CIA
The whole operation fell in to chaos
Till U.S. intelligence came in to Laos
Mary Azarian/Matt Wuerker I'll tell you no lie I'm a true American
Our big pusher there was Phoumi Nosavan
All them Princes in a power play
But Phoumi was the man for the CIA
And his best friend General Vang Pao
Ran the Meo army like a sacred cow
Helicopter smugglers filled Long Cheng's bars
In Xieng Quang province on the Plain of Jars
It started in secret they were fighting yesterday
Clandestine secret army of the CIA
All through the Sixties the dope flew free
Thru Tan Son Nhut Saigon to Marshall Ky
Air America followed through
Transporting comfiture for President Thieu
All these Dealers were decades and yesterday
The Indochinese mob of the U.S. CIA
Operation Haylift Offisir Wm Colby
Saw Marshall Ky fly opium Mr. Mustard told me
Indochina desk he was Chief of Dirty Tricks
"Hitch-hiking" with dope pushers was how he got his fix
Subsidizing the traffickers to drive the Reds away
Till Colby was the head of the CIA
Mon 10 Jul, 2006 08:00 pm
Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus
According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring
a farmer was ploughing
the whole pageantry
of the year was
the edge of the sea
sweating in the sun
the wings' wax
off the coast
a splash quite unnoticed
William Carlos Williams
Tue 11 Jul, 2006 07:45 pm
A Dog Has Died
My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.
So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.
Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer
Wed 12 Jul, 2006 07:28 pm
To a downfallen rose
When I laid aside the verses of Mimnermus,
I lived a life of canned heat and raw hands,
alone, not far from my body did I wander,
walked with a hope of a sudden dreamy forest of gold.
O rose, downfallen, bend your huge vegetic back;
eye down the imposter sun...in winter dream
sulk your rosefamed head into the bile of golden giant,
ah, rose, augment the rose further still!
whence upon that self-created dive in Eden
you blossomed where the Watchmaker of Nothingness
your birth did cause bits of smashed night to pop,
causing my dreamy forest to unfold.
Yes, and the Watchmaker, his wheely-flesh
and jewelled-bones spoiled as he awoke,
and in the face of your Somethingness, he fled
waving oblivious monks in his unwinded hands.
The sun cannot see upheaved spatics, the tennis of Venus
and the court of Mars sing the big lie of the sun,
ah, faraway ball of fur, sponge up the elements;
make clear the trees and the mountains of the earth,
arise and turn away from the vast fixedness.
Rose! Rose! my tinhorneared rose!
Rose is my visionic eyehand of all Mysticdom
Rose is my wise chair of bombed houses
Rose is my patient electric eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes,
Rose is my festive jowl,
Dali Lama Grand Vicar Glorious Caesar rose!
When I hear the rose scream
I gather all the failure experiments of an anatomical empire
and, with some chemical dream, discover
the hateful law of the earth and sun, and the screaming
Wed 12 Jul, 2006 07:44 pm
Dropped by for a visit, read a little.
Fri 21 Jul, 2006 07:53 pm
In Back of the Real
railroad yard in San Jose
I wandered desolate
in front of a tank factory
and sat on a bench
near the switchman's shack.
A flower lay on the hay on
the asphalt highway
--the dread hay flower
I thought--It had a
brittle black stem and
corolla of yellowish dirty
spikes like Jesus' inchlong
crown, and a soiled
dry center cotton tuft
like a used shaving brush
that's been lying under
the garage for a year.
Yellow, yellow flower, and
flower of industry,
tough spiky ugly flower,
with the form of the great yellow
Rose in your brain!
This is the flower of the World.
Sat 22 Jul, 2006 01:38 pm
The Terms in Which I Think of Reality
Reality is a question
of realizing how real
the world is already.
Time is Eternity,
ultimate and immovable;
everyone's an angel.
It's Heaven's mystery
of changing perfection :
changes! Cars are always
going down the street,
lamps go off and on.
It's a great flat plain;
we can see everything
on top of a table.
Clams open on the table,
lambs are eaten by worms
on the plain. The motion
of change is beautiful,
as well as form called
in and out of being.
Next : to distinguish process
in its particularity with
an eye to the initiation
of gratifying new changes
desired in the real world.
Here we're overwhelmed
with such unpleasant detail
we dream again of Heaven.
For the world is a mountain
of **** : if it's going to
be moved at all, it's got
to be taken by handfuls.
Man lives like the unhappy
whore on River Street who
in her Eternity gets only
a couple of bucks and a lot
of snide remarks in return
for seeking physical love
the best way she knows how,
never really heard of a glad
job or joyous marriage or
a difference in the heart :
or thinks it isn't for her,
which is her worst misery.
Sat 29 Jul, 2006 03:18 pm
Let America be America Again
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.
O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!