Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beat Postcard #17: Oblivion

this is how we end it.
Rightfully so.
Here they are at the edge of open water.
How often are we so close to oblivion?
Would we know it if we were?
Infinity hovering over our tiny futures.
I imagine, looking at this card, that right
after the picture was taken, they all turned
and dove into the waves.
They just kept swimming until no one could hear them.
They left their clothes on the shore, along with their words.
The went on secretly
to break all records for long-distance breast stroke,
knowing beyond was worth everything they had.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beat Postcard #16: Corso's Sour Grapes

Gregory Corso, Paris, France 1957
Eating grapes in his attic room at the Beat Hotel

"Should I get married?
Should I be good?"

One can easily see these words on the tip of Corso's
tongue,by the way he looks wistfully up and to the left.
At this moment he is considering his place in the world and,
more importantly,
in the Beat Universe.

"Astound Lanky Jane
with velvet suit and Faustus bane?"

This part has yet to occur to him,
as one can see by his eating of grapes
(an obvious metaphor for his pre-Goethe
decision to make deals he has no intention of keeping. )

At funerals and tributes,
why did he not pay attention?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beat Postcard #15: Compost

Gary Snyder, Japan 1963

All this new stuff goes on top
Turn it over, turn it over

You cut your hand climbing the rock
but laughed instead, figuring on

Wait and water down
From the dark bottom

It was too topical, you said.
Let's talk a thousand years
of opening, the ten thousand things blood means.

Turn it inside out
Let it spread through
Sift down even
Watch it sprout

What flowing is more ancient
Than this? The earth
has it down, pumping itself
through the cracks in my laughter
night after night. Realize

A mind like compost

and regurgitate,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Beat Postcard #14: Mugging by the Lights

Bob Donlin, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Robert La Vigne, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco 1956
Standing in front of City Lights Bookshop

Why not revolt,
or at least bash some heads?

Because we've had enough of that.
In the face of death, let us take pictures of the faces of life.

Out of chaos comes order. Their words brought forth
the beauty of Brownian movement, the arabesque in the eye,
nose, and throat of the storm.

Of course they'd find wisdom in wine.
Light in the dark.
Salvation in the heart of the damned.

"Gather 'round, fellas. This dude's got a camera says it'll pick up our souls.
Ever hear such a thing?


Friday, July 11, 2008

Beat Postcard #13: Kral Majales

Allen Ginsberg, Prague 1965
Selected by the students as the May King ("Kral Majales") before being expelled from the country.

We were born after a royalty.

Some beats crowned kings, while others sang blank halls
for deaf compensation. Some were crucified, others ignored.

Now everyone cuts crowns from paper, walks
with an affected gait. We name streets after ourselves, claim thrones of our own design.

The latest can't even be bothered to lead us.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beat Postcard #12: Opaque

William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Paul Bowles (r-l)
Tangiers, Morocco 1961

This photo is important.

Exactly two hours later Paul Bowles (left) saw himself in the mirror and noticed how far he'd come since his tea making days. Now he wore a tie. O life.

Gregory, on the other hand, was at the top of his game. He was young and strong and liked to emphasize this by standing next to Burroughs. He did this to compensate for feelings of inadequacy, fostered by the attention his compatriots received at midnight invisible parties.

Burroughs as already quite mad by this time. He'd looked like your grandpa since he was 22 and practiced the art of urban invisibility. He learned to see through things. He was pretty good

He knew why Corso stood so close.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Beat Postcard #11: The Jewish Ghetto

Allen Ginsberg, Venice, Italy 1957
Visiting the Jewish Ghetto

"and it is said that those who would steal from you
seek only your heart."

And I have seen those who have looked deeply into my heart,
only to be interested in possessions.

The joke's on them.
I've never owned anything that could bleed.

Interesting thing about this photo is
Ginsberg knows this guy is stealing his work. He always leaves a phony one out in the open for those who seek to love him.

Whatever the thief ends up doing with the words
he unwittingly markets Ginsberg's second-rate work.

I'm sure there's a lesson there, somewhere.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Beat Postcard #10: Joanne Kyger

Joanne Kyger, Almora, India 1962
Reading a guidebook, overlooking the Himalayan Mountains

The one on the rock still lives. She's a poet.
Married to Snyder then to another, how do you think it feels to still be alive after so much has gone?

She still has to face the audience. She can be seen, smile cracking at dedications, a walking relic that dignifies a religion not of her making.
A humanist totem or voodoo doll for the new age.

Whose name does she put in all those books. I hear she still can't bring herself to discuss Cassady. Don't blame her.

How? How does it feel to still be alive

after so much has gone?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Beat Postcard #9: Further

Neal Cassady and Timothy Leary, Millbrook, NY 1964
On board Ken Kesey's bus "Further", which Cassady had just driven cross-country

Gods should learn to shut up, Neal.

What happens when a god has a kung fu master, his imago sailing frothy above the highways he has forged.

Man and talisman combined with the feral uebermensch.

Can a mortal become elemental, or is left to some twisted birthright gone astray?

Where are our Neals?
Where is yours?

Do they arrive only after they have gone? Are they born or, like Golem, created?

Those created need to be replaced by those who create themselves.
We must invest in our own immaculate conception.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Beat Postcard #8: Orlovsky Overlooks

Peter Orlovsky, Yosemite, CA 1955
Overlooking the valley

Yeah, he thought he'd seen the last one, too. They were all the last one.

That's the only way they could continue.

If they, even for a second, believed in the enormous future that would come
they would crumble under the weight.

So they went for broke when they overlooked valleys.

He misses it, in turning his gaze to us.

"Ignore the camera, Orlo!" Jack would yell. But Peter just couldn't help it.

I mean, really. Look how deep it is.

How in the world
could a gaze make its way back up?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Beat Postcard #7: Cadets Howl

Cadets at the Virginia Military Insitute read Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg.
Photo by Gordon Ball

Dear X,

I actually bought this card a while back in San Francisco. I came across it while daydreaming about the very thing this card says to me.



Look at them. The words shooting into them like darts or rifle rounds, opened up like virgins in the night wondering what and how?

Embraced. Understood.

Some get the love, while others chank forward like broken pieces of ornate machinery. Some buy megaphones.

Create your ammo wherever the materials are to be found at cost. Curve the serif of your rifling for accuracy. Hollowpoint your words for precision and impact.

Be the difference between a thug and a marksman.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Beat Postcard #6: Ginsberg's Gabriel Horns

Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco 1956
Typing manuscripts in Peter Orlovsky's apartment on Petrero Hill

I use the typewriter as my pillow

Yes, my love. After days of raveging yourself with rains and screaming, you came only to me. Just out of reach, you fell. I lifted onl your head. Under it - God.

I dreamt I jumped into the nozzle of a gun.

I love your joking. We both know the only gun you admitted was the one we shared. You never jumped. You were in it the whole time.

My Gabriel horns, my Gabriel horns, unfold the cheerfulies, my gay jubilation.

I type your heaven'd words, and hate you for your death. Love over death you always said.

But Death wins again.