Wednesday, May 27, 2009

for allen ginsberg

for allen ginsberg
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…
from 'howl"
from those negro streets at dawn i watched, wondering what to
make of u. yr protracted cry of distress, of pain & rage attached
like a hero’s cape to the rear of yr streaking naked body, a
white anomaly against a static & incredulous blackness, a
turbulence, a white noise, mimicking the sound of the flow of
air or the billowing, wavelike, backward surge of liquid flying
off a fast moving spirit.

from those negro streets at dawn i watched, wondering what to
make of yr poetry. those long-winded, run-on lines pregnant
with peyote, broken up into yogi breaths & oft-repeating
choruses of cassandra crying solos, be-bop style; pitting cubic
images of child-devouring molochs – the military industrial
complex, consumer capitalism, victorian sexual attitudes – vs
the best minds of yr generation – the poets, writers, artists,
anarchists, lunatics & of course, the messianic, sometimes
smack-addled musicians.

from those negro streets at dawn i searched for u, found you in
the sexually free verse of walt whitman, in the luminous
imagist stanzas of william carlos williams & in the elegiac
lines of garcia lorca, saw u cruciform & victimized, imprisoned
in & by yr own imagery, howling on yr knees in existential
subways, clutching yr poems & yr genitalia, held down &
sensationally sodomized, a very different emblem of suffering
& shame.

from those negro streets at dawn i read yr poems, saw thru yr
eyes with the unwavering certainty that i was viewing present
time with all of my attention. i saw in an instant what poems
like yrs could do. i witnessed the terrible calculated destruction
within america of america’s own icons, symbols & monuments
& their triumphant rising from the wreckage & smoldering
ashes into a glorious new vision, healed of all their

& i knew, then, in a moment of clarity, that i wanted to be a
part of this iconoclasm, wanted the thick & slippery blood of
those icons, symbols & monuments dripping from my own
wordswords. looking at my own poetic euphony, i found it
blunt & wanting. so i retreated to my private woodshed
somewhere on one of those negro streets to dream new dreams
& sharpen my verse.

© Joseph McNair; 2009

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