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Howl, Parts I & II
Allen Ginsberg, 1926 - 1997

For Carl Solomon

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
     starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking 
     for an angry fix,
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 Arkansas 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 endless balls,
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in 
     the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, 
     illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns,
     wine drunkenness 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 mind,
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 wondering 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 ecstasy,
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 fireplace Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in
     beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark
     skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the
     narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
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 intoxication,
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 whomever 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 cunt
     and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
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 too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams,
     woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out
     of basements hungover 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 steamheat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of
     the Hudson 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 decade,
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 regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of
     the fairies of advertising & 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 whiskey 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 salvation and light and breasts, until the soul
     illuminated its hair for a second, 
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 instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol
     electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy
     pingpong & amnesia,
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 vibrating plane,
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 Aeterna Deus
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.

 

II

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls
     and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable
     dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys
     sobbing in armies!  Old men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! 
     Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone
     soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch
     whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of
     war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is
     running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! 
     Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!  Moloch whose
     ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose
     skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless
     Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the
     fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the 
     cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is
     electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter
     of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless
     hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! 
     Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and
     manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a
     consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out
     of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in
     Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton
     treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral
     nations! invincible mad houses granite cocks! monstrous
     bombs! 
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements,
     trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists
     and is everywhere about us! 
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the
     American river! 
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload
     of sensitive bullshit! 
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down
     the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years' animal
     screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! 
     down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the
     holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roofl to
     solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the
     street!
Baltimore Poetry
next
At Night the States
Alice Notley, 1945
At night the states
I forget them or I wish I was there
	 in that one under the
Stars. It smells like June in this night
	 so sweet like air.
I may have decided that the
	 States are not that tired
Or I have thought so. I have
	 thought that.

At night the states
And the world not that tired
	 of everyone
Maybe. Honey, I think that to
	 say is in 
light. Or whoever. We will
	 never
replace You. We will never re-
	 place You. But
in like a dream the floor is no
	 longer discursive
To me it doesn't please me by
	 being the vistas out my
window, do you know what
	 Of course (not) I mean?
I have no dreams of wake-
	 fulness. In
wakefulness. And so to begin.
	 (my love.)


At night the states
talk. My initial continuing contra-
	 diction
my love for you & that for me
deep down in the Purple Plant the oldest
	 dust
of it is sweetest but sates no longer
	 how I
would feel. Shirt
that shirt has been in your arms
	 And I have
that shirt is how I feel


At night the states
will you continue in this as-
	 sociation of
matters, my Dearest? down
	 the street from
where the public plaque reminds
	 that of private
loving the consequential chain
	 trail is
matters


At night the states
that it doesn't matter that I don't
	 say them, remember
them at the end of this claustro-
	 phobic the
dance, I wish I could see I wish
	 I could
dance her. At this night the states
	 say them
out there. That I am, am them
	 indefinitely so and
so wishful passive historic fated
	 and matter-
simple, matter-simple, an
	 eyeful. I wish
but I don't and little melody.
	 Sorry that these
little things don't happen any
	 more. The states
have drained their magicks
	 for I have not
seen them. Best not to tell. But
	 you
you would always remain, I
	 trust, as I will
always be alone.


At night the states
whistle. Anyone can live. I
can. I am not doing any-
	 thing doing this. I
discover I love as I figure. Wed-
	 nesday
I wanted to say something in
	 particular. I have been
where. I have seen it. The God
	 can. The people
do some more.

At night the states
I let go of, have let, don't
	 let
Some, and some, in Florida, doing.
	 What takes you so
long? I am still with you in that
	 part of the
park, and vice will continue, but
	 I'll have
a cleaning Maine. Who loses
	 these names
loses. I can't bring it up yet,
	 keeping my
opinions to herself. Everybody in
	 any room is a
smuggler. I walked fiery and
	 talked in the
stars of the automatic weapons
	 and partly for you
Which you. You know.


At night the states
have told it already. Have
	 told it. I
know it. But more that they
	 don't know, I
know it too.


At night the states
whom I do stand before in
	 judgment, I
think that they will find
	 me fair, not
that they care in fact nor do
	 I, right now
though indeed I am they and
	 we say
that not that I've
	 erred nor
lost my way though perhaps
	 they did (did
they) and now he is dead
	 but you
you are not. Yet I am this
	 one, lost
again? lost & found by one-
	 self
Who are you to dare sing to me?


At night the states
accompany me while I sit here
	 or drums
there are alwavs drums what for
	 so I
won't lose my way the name of
	 a
personality, say, not California
	 I am not
sad for you though I could be
	 I remember
climbing up a hill under tall
	 trees
getting home. I guess we
	 got home. I was
going to say that the air was
	 fair (I was
always saying something like
	 that) but
that's not it now, and that
	 that's not it
isn't it either


At night the states
dare sing to me they who seem
	 tawdry
any more I've not thought I
	 loved them, only
you it's you whom I love
the states are not good to me as
	 I am to them
though perhaps I am not
when I think of your being
	 so beautiful
but is that your beauty
	 or could it be
theirs I'm having such a
	 hard time remembering
any of their names
your being beautiful belongs
	 to nothing
I don't believe they should
	 praise you
but I seem to believe they
	 should
somehow let you go


At night the states
and when you go down to
	 Washington
witness how perfectly anything
	 in particular
sheets of thoughts what a waste
	 of sheets at
night. I remember something
	 about an
up-to-date theory of time. I
	 have my
own white rose for I have
	 done
something well but I'm not
	 clear
what it is. Weathered, perhaps
	 but that's
never done. What's done is
	 perfection.


At night the states
ride the train to Baltimore
we will try to acknowledge what was
but that's not the real mirror
	 is it? nor
is it empty, or only my eyes
	 are
Ride the car home from Washington
	 no
they are not. Ride the subway
	 home from
Pennsylvania Station. The states
	 are blind eyes
stony smooth shut in moon-
	 light. My
French is the shape of this
	 book
that means I.


At night the states
the 14 pieces. I couldn't just
walk on by. Why
aren't they beautiful enough
in a way that does not
	 beg to wring
something from a dry (wet)
	 something
Call my name


At night the states
making life, not explaining anything
but all the popular songs say call
	 my name
oh call my name, and if I call
 	 it out myself to
you, call mine out instead as our
	 poets do
will you still walk on by? I
	 have
loved you for so long. You
	 died
and on the wind they sang
	 your name to me
but you said nothing. Yet you
	 said once before
and there it is, there, but it is
	 so still.
Oh being alone I call out my
	 name
and once you did and do still in
	 a way
you do call out your name
to these states whose way is to walk
on by that's why I write too much


At night the states
whoever you love that's who you
	 love
the difference between chaos and
	 star I believe and
in that difference they believed
	 in some
funny way but that wasn't
	 what I
I believed that out of this
 	 fatigue would be
born a light, what is fatigue
there is a man whose face
	 changes continually
but I will never, something
	 I will
never with regard to it or
	 never regard
I will regard yours tomorrow
I will wear purple will I
and call my name


At night the states
you who are alive, you who are dead
when I love you alone all night and
	 that is what I do
until I could never write from your
	 being enough
I don't want that trick of making
	 it be coaxed from
the words not tonight I want it
	 coaxed from
myself but being not that. But I'd
	 feel more
comfortable about it being words
	 if it
were if that's what it were for these
	 are the
States where what words are true
	 are words
Not myself. Montana. Illinois.
	 Escondido.
Baltimore Poetry
next
My Grandmother's White Cat
Maurice Kilwein Guevara
	When fiber-optic, sky blue hair became the fashion, my father began the 
monthly ritual of shaving his head. It was August, and we were still living in the 
Projects without a refrigerator. The sound of my mother fluttering through the 
rosaries in another room reminded me of the flies I'd learned to trap in mid-
flight and bring to my ear.
	"Vecchio finally died," my father said, bending to lace his old boots. "You 
want to come help me?"
	My grandparents lived in a green-shingled house on the last street before 
the Jones & Laughlin coke furnaces, the Baltimore & Ohio switching yard, and 
the sliding banks of the Monongahela. The night was skunk-dark. The spade 
waited off to the side.
	Before I could see it, I could smell the box on the porch.
	We walked down the tight alley between the houses to get to the back yard 
where fireflies pushed through the heat like slow aircraft and tomato plants hung 
bandaged to iron poles. My father tore and chewed a creamy yellow flower from 
the garden.
	After a few minutes of digging, he said, "Throw him in."
	I lifted the cardboard box above my head, so I could watch the old white 
cat tumble down, a quarter moon in the pit of the sky.
 
Baltimore Poetry
next
October 27, 1989
Ed Ochester
          And what did you want?
          To call myself beloved, to feel myself
                 beloved on the earth.
                       --Ray Carver
						
He was in a hotel in Baltimore
in a suburb near Johns Hopkins. He would

give a talk there, and they would pay him for it. 
It was night, and he was alone; sirens were racing

up and down the streets. The room was very large. 
Most of what he had wished as a boy was to write poems,

to have some power with the word, to be paid 
for talking. Don't smile, please. He wanted

to be put in a beautiful room like this. 
Bonnie would pick him up in an hour. He saw

out the picture window a few men in trenchcoats 
walking toward the parking lot, and beyond that

headlights and taillights on a freeway a mile 
or so away. He'd been reading Carver's last book

of poems, reading "Gravy" and the other valedictories. 
He remembered Carver a few years before his death,

kidding about his prosperity, kneeling before his Mercedes 
and waving a fistful of dollars, because he was so amazed,

he supposed, to have them, that good man, whose last poems, 
written in the knowledge of imminent death, said

love the world, don't grieve overmuch, listen to people. 
The beautiful room was a good place to read; he'd finished

the book (for the second time) at the pine desk, where 
the indirect white light hurt his eyes. He didn't think 

he'd ever be as famous as Carver, but who could tell? 
He was sorry the man was dead; there was nothing

he could do about that, but he was sorry for it. 
He got up to look out the picture window. He could

see the red spintops of some cops' cars. Other than that 
nothing special: in the entrance courtyard a lone cabbie

smoked a cigarette; spotlights shone up through the yellow 
foliage of a clump of maples. A few slow crickets.

He had everything he really wanted, he had learned 
that friends, like love, couldn't save him.