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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 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 
  endless balls,
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
  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 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 
  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 incompre-
  hensible 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 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 cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of con-
  sciousness,
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 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 
  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 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 
  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 instanta-
  neous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity
  hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & am-
  nesia,
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! Chil-
  dren screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies!  Old
  men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Mo-
  loch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jail-
  house and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judg-
  ment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned govern-
  ments!
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 skyscrap-
  ers 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 ec-
  stasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light stream-
  ing 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.