Monday, June 30, 2008

Beat Postcard #5: Ginsberg Ruined

Allen Ginsberg, Mexico 1954
leaning on a stick amidst ancient Mayan ruins

What ruination
have you paid homage to?
What crumbled dreaming is worth your pause?

Ginsberg is wistful in Mexico, the second America.

I heard Rilke visited ruins, too, only to pine for them upon returning home.


Where would you stand and hope, pine? Where in your world?

Let us begin on our back stoops, where the view of the scrap pile will soon be replaced by comfortable lofts. Benchmarks for the elimination of pining.

Build our cities first on the inside.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beat Postcard #4: Ferlindoggie

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco 1984
Posing with dog in his City Lights office.

It is a strange variation.

A strange distillation well within reincarnation.

Each time we come around again we're more civilized. Try as we might, to the generation unto which we are born, we are less feral. Look at your grandfather (look at his). Look at their words. Look at the portrait on the wall.

Ferlinghetti knew this too, while having this picture taken. Hence the dog as feral familiar.

But it backfired. Today dogs are as coiffed as we are.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beat Postcard #3: Gregory and God

Gregory Corso, Lowell, MA 1986
Visiting the religious grotto described by Jack Kerouac in his book, Doctor Sax

My view of Corso is forever tainted by a scene in the film The Source, wherein he throws a fit during a discussion of Kerouac, saying " stuff puts most of his [or their, referring to the other known Beats] to shame."

So this picture is classic to me. Gregory stands beneath the savior, not revering but planning.

"Savior, huh? Sounds good."

He stood there for an hour and a half trying to figure out who you have to blow to get yourself nailed to a cross.

If you have to ask, maybe it just ain't to be.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beat Postcard #2: Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles, Marrakech, Morocco 1961

By this time Mr. Bowles had lived so long in this strange and succulent
culture that he had almost forgotten his native tongue. He knew this,
and it pleased him. The way he saw it, if it didn't stick around, he wasn't
supposed to have it.

"If your tongue abandons you," he used to say, "learn to speak tongueless.
No mouth? Learn to dance."

His buddies liked this idea in theory, but were too attached to the tangoes
and sambas they created with said tongues.

Mr. Bowles prepared mint tea.

They took wine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beat Postcard #1: Herbert Huncke

Herbert Huncke, Waverly, TX 1947
Working on William S. Burroughs Marijuana Farm

The shovel was stolen, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I am less than what the world says.
It has been very kind,
but my jig is up.

It outruns me without even trying,
some natural engine of atoms
and waltzes I am left to enjoy from behind.

Deciding I was too much work,
even my dreams have taken up with other men.

And you have the nerve to ask me if I still love you.


You are the least of my worries.

Monday, June 23, 2008

They’re Already There*

By kurafire on Flickr

On the corner the kids are stopping each other
and talking like travelers of the world.

I’ve seen them make themselves dirty,
desperate like Mad Max
or Rimbaud in the alley.

But Eliot didn’t work any less
at his passion,

and he held down a bank job,
wrote The Waste Land.

But in this spoiled little town
so much depends on
looking like you live on the edge
everyone else has forgotten.

It’s an easy fashion when you’re 19. I’m not,
and when was the last time
you heard someone mention Eliot?
*or "More Proof I Am Getting Old"

Friday, June 20, 2008

You promised me postcards

Photo by Neal Casal (

You promised me postcards
from your new, far off life

And when they never came
my love began to grow

As DeSade praised his wife
the more he was alone

The way hunger only grows
When left unfed

So was my sun merely a spark
Until you closed your eyes

Thursday, June 19, 2008


By grange85 on Flickr

If I Stir
for William Stafford

If I stir in the night, my love,
To write what I see on the horizon,
Please do not be upset with me.

I know it is just another dawn,
That I, too, need more sleep before it arrives.
And, yes, that not everything is waiting to become my poetry.

But in those tranquil hours
When the universe itself seems to doze
I promise you it becomes something else

The secret of the world
Observed like you
Through a lover’s grateful prism.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Found: On Death

Ben is dead.

With 50 pages left, Ben is dead. The shadow-god of Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel, has died of pheumonia. The death scene with family encircled has moved me deeply.

Thoughts, naturally, of my own brood, my own memories to be.

How will I mourn? In bedside vigilance of prayer? Cornered

howls for everything that was not?

An how will others encounter themselves

in my passing?

What thoughts, once seeking me out to play,

will flicker off for some other diamond,

another hardened stone in which to see their own in a perfectly

broken brilliance? Will they cry for the one left behind, the strange refrain

that had no more worlds?

Without even trying

I turn it to me.

What egoism arises

from death.

to my brother, found in old journal

Monday, June 2, 2008

Brand New Sunny...cont.

Ah, but there. It's crossed. I've lost if I don't swoop in with an element of pop culture. As if discussion of thought and theory has to be tethered visibly to soil. Fine, I concede. Surly Bitter Brewer seconds to Rogue's Black Brutal. It's a fact to be taken as fact. Belhaven Wee Heavy cocks them both. Mixing the ideal with the earthly. It's not even the level of Baroque wordplay that might make a ramble of this sort acceptable. The demilitarized zone of intellectualism and diddling one's own grey matter. Is it onanism when one wishes to express and not merely bask in the moment of spinout jubilation?

Perhaps such a display can be forgiven if it yields something beyond the self. Those plans on the table, the ones I spoke of earlier. Those responsibilities never mentioned, yet counterbalanced with instances of more. What Gadda does in translation. What intent does to complascence. How it all seems connected to the last inch of cigar on which I draw, attempting to enjoy the taste and not the heat. Not yet old enough to glean flavor from the full range of the spectrum of heat.

This, the part that will stay mine. I speed up to leave skid marks on the moment, only to realize the lack of track upon which to run...etc. etc.

I need a week of abandon. Italy, Germany, England. Some realm far enough away that I can call it aether. Time there. Carved out of long, unadulterated stretches of the soul's hologram. Steps down strange streets taken slowly. Everything slowly. Drawing on a fine cigar. A sip. Even writing, slowly, with a fine instrument, opting speed for the aesthetic enjoyment of languid unfolding.

Italy, with my anglophile tendencies winking amorously at England. A bit off, I see, as more and more enter the bar. Local poetic champions adding a bit of charismatic dirt to their noble vitae. For some of us, the dirt is all we have. We learn to build castles that don't last the night.

Italy. It hits me like the bathroom grafitti. "Dead Carp" writting in the shape of a fish. "Screw you" which just makes me feel wanted. I have never imagined Italy beyond my reverie, yet now I plot to work there for a summer, real friends with real family who might make it happen.

What do I believe could happen? A timeless moment to carry with me like a fob back into my routine life? Something to fondle as I wince through days? A split second snatch of melody that alters the cells of the heart? Yes, I expect as much. I am still that young. To research a city's gunning legacy, and respect it with response. A fine point put to the country who puts itself forward - its major meccas at least - in a way that illustrates the Parisian Left Bank in ways itself can no longer.

For this meantime, then, I will sprint within my confines. The way I draw slowly on the final quarter inch of this 5 Vegas, Limited Edition. A smile of thanks to local liquor starburst Jay Johnson for his generosity....