Transcription of Organ Music
- The flower in the glass peanut bottle formerly in the
- kitchen crooked to take a place in the light,
- the closet door opened, because I used it before, it
- kindly stayed open waiting for me, its owner.
- I began to feel my misery in pallet on floor, listening
- to music, my misery, that's why I want to sing.
- The room closed down on me, I expected the presence
- of the Creator, I saw my gray painted walls and
- ceiling, they contained my room, they contained
- as the sky contained my garden,
- I opened my door
- The rambler vine climbed up the cottage post,
- the leaves in the night still where the day had placed
- them, the animal heads of the flowers where they had
- to think at the sun
- Can I bring back the words? Will thought of
- transcription haze my mental open eye?
- The kindly search for growth, the gracious de-
- sire to exist of the flowers, my near ecstasy at existing
- among them
- The privilege to witness my existence--you too
- must seek the sun . . .
- My books piled up before me for my use
- waiting in space where I placed them, they
- haven't disappeared, time's left its remnants and qual-
- ities for me to use--my words piled up, my texts, my
- manuscripts, my loves.
- I had a moment of clarity, saw the feeling in
- the heart of things, walked out to the garden crying.
- Saw the red blossoms in the night light, sun's
- gone, they had all grown, in a moment, and were wait-
- ing stopped in time for the day sun to come and give
- them. . . .
- Flowers which as in a dream at sunset I watered
- faithfully not knowing how much I loved them.
- I am so lonely in my glory--except they too out
- there--I looked up--those red bush blossoms beckon-
- ing and peering in the window waiting in blind love,
- their leaves too have hope and are upturned top flat
- to the sky to receive--all creation open to receive--the
- flat earth itself.
- The music descends, as does the tall bending
- stalk of the heavy blossom, because it has to, to stay
- alive, to continue to the last drop of joy.
- The world knows the love that's in its breast as
- in the flower, the suffering lonely world.
- The Father is merciful.
- The light socket is crudely attached to the ceil-
- ing, after the house was built, to receive a plug which
- sticks in it alright, and serves my phonograph now . . .
- The closet door is open for me, where I left it,
- since I left it open, it has graciously stayed open.
- The kitchen has no door, the hole there will
- admit me should I wish to enter the kitchen.
- I remember when I first got laid, H.P. gra-
- ciously took my cherry, I sat on the docks of Prov-
- incetown, age 23, joyful, elevated in hope with the
- Father, the door to the womb was open to admit me
- if I wished to enter.
- There are unused electricity plugs all over my
- house if I ever need them.
- The kitchen window is open, to admit air...
- The telephone--sad to relate--sits on the
- floor--I haven't the money to get it connected--
- I want people to bow as they see me and say
- he is gifted with poetry, he has seen the presence of
- the Creator.
- And the Creator gave me a shot of his presence
- to gratify my wish, so as not to cheat me of my yearning
- for him.
Berkeley, September 8, 1955
- I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
- sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
- Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the
- box house hills and cry.
- Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
- pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts
- of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, sur-
- rounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
- The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
- sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that
- stream, no hermit in those mounts, just our-
- selves rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums
- on the riverbank, tired and wily.
- Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
- shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
- dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--
- --I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,
- memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem
- and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes
- Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black
- treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the
- poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel
- knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck
- and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the
- and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
- crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog
- and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--
- corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like
- a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,
- soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sun-
- rays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried
- wire spiderweb,
- leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures
- from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster
- fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
- Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O
- my soul, I loved you then!
- The grime was no man's grime but death and human
- all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad
- skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black
- mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuber-
- ance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial--
- modern--all that civilization spotting your
- crazy golden crown--
- and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless
- eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the
- home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar
- bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards
- of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely
- tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what
- more could I name, the smoked ashes of some
- cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the
- milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs
- & sphincters of dynamos--all these
- entangled in your mummied roots--and you there
- standing before me in the sunset, all your glory
- in your form!
- A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
- lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
- to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
- grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
- monthly breeze!
- How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your
- grime, while you cursed the heavens of the rail-
- road and your flower soul?
- Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a
- flower? when did you look at your skin and
- decide you were an impotent dirty old locomo-
- tive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
- shade of a once powerful mad American locomo-
- You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a
- And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me
- So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
- it at my side like a scepter,
- and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
- too, and anyone who'll listen,
- --We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
- bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
- beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're bles-
- sed by our own seed & golden hairy naked ac-
- complishment-bodies growing into mad black
- formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
- eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
- riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit-
- down vision.
Who Runs America?
Oil brown smog over Denver
Oil red dung colored smoke
level to level across the horizon
blue tainted sky above
Plane lands rumbling, planes rise over
Oil car smog gasoline
hazing red Denver's day
December bare trees
sticking up from housetop streets
Oil millions of cars speeding the cracked plains
radar wheels, black smoke
drifts from tailfins
Oil from Texas, Bahrein, Venezuela Mexico
Oil that turns General Motors
Oil that flows thru Exxon New Jersey hoses,
revs up Ford thru International Business Machine computers,
lights up General Electric, oil that
charges dynamos for ITT Electric
runs thru Amer Telephone & Telegraph wires
rings in Mobil gas tank cranks, rumbles
shoots thru Texaco pipelines
blackens ocean from broken Gulf tankers
spills onto Santa Barbara beaches from
Standard of California derricks offshore.
Dec 3, 1974
Selection from Kaddish
- for Naomi Ginsberg, 1894-1956
- Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
- the sunny pavement of Greenwhich Village.
- downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,
- talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
should blind on the phonograph
- the rhythm the rhythm - and your memory in my head three years after -
- And read Adonais' last triumphant stanzas aloud - wept, realizing
how we suffer -
- And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember
- prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of Answers
- and my own imagination of a withered leaf - at dawn -
- Dreaming back thru life, Your time - and mine accelerating toward
- the final moment - the flower burning in the Day - and what comes after,
looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city
a flash away, and a great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom
- Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed -
- like a poem in the dark - escaped back to Oblivion -
No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream,
- trapped in its disappearance,
- sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom,
- worshipping each other,
- worshipping the God included in it all - longing or inevitability? - while it
- lasts, a Vision - anything more?
- It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder,
- Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings
shouldering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant -
and the sky above - an old blue place.
- or down the Avenue to the south - as I walk toward the Lower East Side
- - where you walked 50 years ago, little girl - from Russian, eating the
first poisonous tomatoes of America - frightened at the dock -
- then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what? - toward
- Newark -
- toward candy store, first home-made sodas of our century, hand-churned ice
- cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards -
- Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school,
- and learning to be mad, in a dream - what is this life?
- Toward the Key in the window - and the great Key lays its head of light
- on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the
sidewalk - in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward
the Yiddish Theater - and the place of poverty
- you knew, and I know, but without caring now - Strange to have moved
- thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,
- with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstoops doors and dark boys on
- the street, fire escapes old as you
- - Tho, you're not old now, that's left here with me -
Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe - and I guess that dies with
- us - enough to cancel all that comes - What came is gone forever
every time -
- That's good! That leaves it open for no regret - no fear radiators, lacklove,
- torture even toothache in the end -
- Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul - and the lamb, the soul,
- in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change's fierce hunger - hair
- and teeth - and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin,
- braintricked Implacability.
- Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you're out, Death let you out,
- Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with
- God, done with the path thru it - Done with yourself at last - Pure
- - Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all - befpre the
- world -
- There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you've gone, it's good.
- No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more
- fear of Louis,
- and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts,
- loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands -
- No more of sister Elanor, - she gone before you - we kept it secret - you
- killed her - or she killed herself to bear with you - an arthritic heart
- - But Death's killed you both - No matter -
- Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and
- weeks - forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address humanity,
- Chaplin dance in youth,
- or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin's at the Met, halling his voice is a weeping Czar
- - by standing room with Elanor & Max - watching also teh Capitalists
- take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,
- with the YPSL's hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts
- pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and
- laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920
- all girls grown old, or dead, now, and that long hair in the grave - lucky to
- have husbands later -
- You made it - I came too - Eugene my brother before (still grieving now and
- will gream on to his last stiff hand, as he goes thru his cancer - or kill
- - later perhaps - soon he will think - )
- And it's the last moment I remember, which I see them all, thru myself, now
- - tho not you
- I didn't foresee what you felt - what more hideous gape of bad mouth came
- first - to you - and were you prepared?
- To go where? In that Dark - that - in that God? a radiance? A Lord in the
- Void? Like an eye in the black cloud in a dream? Adonoi at last, with
- Beyond my remembrance! Incapable to guess! Not merely the yellow skull
- in the grave, or box of worm dust, and a stained ribbon - Deaths-
- head with Halo? can you believe it?
- Is it only the sun that shines once for the mind, only the flash of existence,
- than none ever was?
- Nothing beyond what we have - what you had - that so pitiful - yet Triumph,
- to have been here, and changed, like a tree, broken, or flower - fed to the
- ground - but mad, with its petals, colored, thinking Great Universe,
- shaken, cut in the head, leaf stript, hid in an egg crate hospital, cloth
- wrapped, sore - freaked in the moon brain, Naughtless.
- No flower like that flowerm which knew itself in the garden, and fought the
- knife - lost
- Cut down by an idiot Snowman's icy - even in the Spring - strange ghost
- thought - some Death - Sharp icicle in his hand - crowned with old
- roses - a dog for his eyes - cock of a sweatshop - heart of electric
- All the accumulations of life, that wear us out - clocks, bodies, consciousness,
- shoes, breasts - begotten sons - your Communism - 'Paranoia' into
- You once kicked Elanor in the leg, she died of heart failure later. You of
- stroke. Asleep? within a year, the two of you, sisters in death. Is
- Elanor happy?
- Max grieves alive in an office on Lower Broadway, lone large mustache over
- midnight Accountings, not sure. His life passes - as he sees - and
- what does he doubt now? Still dream of making money, or that might
- have made money, hired nurse, had children, found even your Immortality,
- I'll see him soon. Now I've got to cut through - to talk to you - as I didn't
- when you had a mouth.
- Forever. And we're bound for that, Forever - like Emily Dickinson's horses
- - headed to the End.
- They know the way - These Steeds - run faster than we think - it's our own
- life they cross - and take with them.
- Magnificent, mourned no more, marred of heart, mind behind,
- married dreamed, mortal changed - Ass and face done with murder.
- In the world, given, flower maddened, made no Utopia, shut under
- pine, almed in Earth, balmed in Lone, Jehovah, accept.
- Nameless, One Faced, Forever beyond me, beginningless, endless,
- Father in death. Tho I am not there for this Prophecy, I am unmarried, I'm
Hymnless, I'm Heavenless, headless in blisshood I would still adore
- Thee, Heaven, after Death, only One blessed in Nothingness, not
- light or darkness, Dayless Eternity -
- Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day, some
- of my Time, now given to Nothing - to praise Thee - But Death
- This is the end, the redemption from Wilderness, way for the Wonderer,
- House sought for All, black handkerchief washed clean by weeping
- page beyond Psalm - Last change of mine and Naomi - to God's perfect
Darkness - Death, stay thy phantoms!
Paris, December 1957 - New York, 1959
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 :
- absolute Eternity
- 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 shit : 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.
Paterson, Spring 1950