Fuck You, Allen Ginsberg II

I’m writing to you again, Ginsberg.

This time, not as some misplaced pine for a boy I don’t know anymore.

This time, not as a metaphor for the blame I can’t place on anyone else.

This time, it’s just for you.

I guess you could say I refuse to give up my obsession.

I hope you’re rolling in your minty, cancerous grave.

You write pretty words.

Wrote, sorry, you’re dead now,

(You died just before your seventy-first birthday)

(I only know this because Wikipedia told me)

You wrote pretty words.

Pretty, mixed up words that became rantings about sanity and America and Walt Whitman in a grocery store.

Words so pretty even I was convinced that they had meaning.

But you were an ugly man, Ginsberg.

An ugly, mixed up man with a beer belly and stained undershirts and a frizzy, greying beard.

Is it obsession or just disdain?

I don’t much care for you, sir, yet I can’t stop seeing connections to you.

Your real first name is Irwin, and I’m Irvine.

We’re both Jews, which doesn’t really mean anything but it’s there.

We’re both “poets,” I guess, although I don’t think I can put myself at your level because I’m not even twenty and I most certainly do not have poems beloved around the world.

Then again, I have a professor who knew you and he says he doesn’t even consider you a poet,

So maybe neither of us are poets or we’re both “poets” or you’re a poet and I’m nothing yet.

Are we both holy? Holy, holy, holy…

Do you know you spawned a generation of artists who glorify your work?

(Mostly young men)

Who read Howl and smoke pot and think they’re some kind of intellectual.

Dreams, drugs, waking nightmares etc.

But as that aforementioned professor also said, this glorification of your work leads to the glorification of you as a person, and he thinks that you’ve lead plenty of men to be drunks who hit on their creative writing students.

He also thinks you and Kerouac and rock ‘n’ roll and jazz lead to the bastardization of Canada, so who knows if I should trust him.

Those

(Mostly young men)

Who love you, Ginsberg, often turn out to be insufferable, with an idea placed in their heads by “Howl” and On the Road and Kill Your Darlings that doing drugs will make them more of an artist.

You came to the university I now attend

(decades back)

to give a talk and you spent twenty minutes going on about how people are just souls or spirits or whatever and that intergenerational sex shouldn’t be stopped but I don’t think it had anything to do with spirituality,

I just think you wanted to fuck teenage boys in your fifties.

I’m all for free speech, sir, but you were a paedophile.

I can’t separate the artist from his work.

Does any of this even make sense?

What do I know, right?

I’m just a kid, who am I to judge award winning poet Allen Ginsberg?

Another professor said my work reminded her of you, she said a poem I wrote titled “Fuck You, Allen Ginsberg” reminded her of your work.

I was insulted and flattered and found it funny because I’ve only ever read one of your poems.

I mean, it’s hard, right?

Maybe you weren’t all bad.

You were an advocate for gay rights and marijuana legalization and you were against smoking cigarettes which is really, truly, all good with me.

But you were an ugly, mixed-up man.

I’d like to kindly ask you to exit my life.

Which I guess is really more on me than on you.

Fuck you, Allen Ginsberg, if that wasn’t clear enough.

Starving hysterical naked.

Just, fuck you.

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Fuck You, Allen Ginsberg

I bought a copy of Howl (And Other Poems) and it made me think about him.

I remember the time we stood outside a pub and both silently realized we had hid our smoking habits from each other when it had mattered what we hid from each other

(eight months back)

His were hand rolled, and I thought of course and laughed in my head.

Mine were minty and cancerous.

I bought a copy of the Pocket Poems Number Four of Howl (And Other Poems) and it made me think about him.

Just like anyone saying Ginsberg or Kerouac or wearing a white fisherman sweater makes me think about him.

And I’m not in love with him anymore, I swear to God and my new boyfriend, I’m not.

Dumplings remind me of him and he was my first love

(eight months back)

but I never told him that.

I remember the place we went to on our third date or something and it was cheap and in London’s tiny Chinatown and he read my short story but I don’t think he understood it.

I bought a copy of the Pocket Poets Series Number Four of Howl (And Other Poems) by Allen Ginsberg with an introduction by William Carlos Williams and I sent him a message

(minty and cancerous)

and it seemed easy and it was the first time we talked since February

(eight months back)

and it’s been three days and I still don’t know how to feel about it.

I don’t even know who he is anymore, to me anymore or who he is anymore.

The day after I bought a copy of Howl (And Other Poems) I walked to a museum and paused occasionally to pull my frigid hands out of my mid-November pockets and type a slow message to him;

A picture of my copy of Howl (And Other Poems) that cost me four dollars and ninety-five cents and “Who am I, 2015’s His Name Here?”

“There are so many better things you can be.”

He carried the same version of Howl (And Other Poems) around in his pockets

(Pocket Poets)

Not sure if he still does but he continued our conversation by admitting he wants to display “Big Howl” (a copy I gifted him for his seventeenth birthday) on the coffee table at his new apartment if his flat-mates will stand for it and if they can find a coffee table.

I remember he used to read passages when he was drunk at parties, an annoyingly, endearingly pretentious habit.

I bought a copy of Howl (And Other Poems) and I’ve read thirteen lines.

I remember when we rolled blunts on his bathroom tiles

(minty and cancerous)

and I remember sleeping in his childhood bed and I remember walking his dog and I remember collapsing halfway up his street and choking on my sadness because I couldn’t let him see me so weak because I was hurt because I remembered because I rode the train alone because I ignored the other passengers because with tears streaming down my flaming cheeks because “I’m a passionate guy” because I was just a kid because it’s been almost two years so why does it hit me like it was yesterday sometimes because I’m not in love with him anymore I swear to God and my new boyfriend and everyone.

So, fuck you, Allen Ginsberg.

Fuck you and your poem for making me feel so much before I even turned a page.

 

“A long time ago, being crazy meant something. Now, everyone’s crazy.”

I sit in the garden

I am protected by the brown fence high on every side

So high that I can’t see over it on my five-foot-six-inch tip toes

I chain smoke and read a book about Charles Manson

The sky and my sweater are the same and grey, like the ash that clings to my sleeves

A small spider connects one end of its web to my fraying jeans (frayed like me, thin and cheap)

and the other end to the chair at my feet

 

I look up and the squirrels are closing in on me

They are planning their attack of bombs made of pine cones

The pigeons are in on it, too

But their bombs are bird shit

 

I turn my head and spit a fat glob of nicotine laced saliva onto the broken and dirty stone patio

The boys next door come out to enjoy the mild, dingy weather and they bring their obnoxious music with them

My neck hurts and I wonder if its cancer as the sun starts to set

Should I go inside and make myself a snack? I’m not hungry but at least the eating fills one part

of me

I pick at the skin on the side of my thumb

I have to cut my nails short and paint them red because otherwise there are yellow stains at their tips

I only have one bottle of polish which I replace for 99 cents every time it runs out or gets too gummy or the cap gets stuck to the rim

 

Yellow stains at my fingertips like daddy’s but he couldn’t hide vices under red polish

I think I can hide them

Mama would hate the way I am now

 

My wrists are heavy with seven rings, nine bracelets and a watch

All collected when there was such a thing as family vacations

 

I sit in the garden collecting cancer

Charles Manson hides in the trees and breathes in my smoke

Drops pine cones on my head

I think I’ll go make myself a snack

A Nursery Rhyme for My Mom

img_2573.jpgMother dearest, mother dear

Do not cry or live in fear

Just because I’ve inked my skin

Doesn’t mean a single thing

Do not shudder, do not sob

I think I still can get a job

I did not put it on my face

Or choose a hated sign of race

 

It’s not the name of a lover scornedIMG_2575

Or on my back, some devil horns

I make myself adorned with art

And a single, silly little heart

Do not shout and do not scold

I know they won’t look good when I’m old

Mother dearest, mother dear

It’s just not really that big of a deal

 

 

 

Thanks to photographer and friend Carla, whose wonderful blog and photography can be found here.

The Tame and Wild Olive Tree

*I adapted this piece from a short story I originally titled Wear Me Like a Winter Jacket which I posted on this blog in May of 2016. I’ve been in a poetry course for a little over a semester, and have found that where some of my single moment oriented pieces fell flat as short fiction, they translate well into prose poetry.*

The Tame and Wild Olive Tree

“How’s work?” Question.

“Great, mom.” Answer.

“And Will, how is he?” Prying question.

“Doing just fine, mom.” Blank answer.

“A proposal in the works? A grandchild, maybe?” Prying question.

“Not anytime soon, mom.” Avoid answer.

“And what about-” Cut off.

“Hey, mom, I’ve got work to do, sorry to cut it short.” Bite your thumb, tear a strip of salted skin down its length.

“Oh, of course sweetheart! I love you!” Desperate, sad, full of exclamation points.

“You too, mom. Bye.” End call before inevitable One more thing!

You sigh, shift pillows under your back, reach for pack on your table. Light cigarette with match, pull deep, watch blue smoke curl out of your lungs. Fill room with choke.

You don’t enjoy lying to mother, keep saying you’ll tell her the truth, truth is it’s just easier not to. The cigarette clicks as it exits your mouth. Baltimore is far from Salt Lake. She hasn’t visited since first year, you were still in school then, still living in a clean dorm on campus. Five years, more than enough time for good habits to become chain smoking and daily cheap wine.

You’d picked Salt Lake because it’s what good Mormons do, realized you were stuck somewhere you’ll detest forever only after breaking up with Will. You miss him, sometimes, then you remember he cried after every orgasm, hated most of your friends. Nothing else could be expected from a BYU boy. You only see him on TV, second row in The Tabernacle Choir.

You couldn’t imagine what mother would say if she saw your apartment, cluttered with not vacuuming, candles, half-pots of coffee, books filled with portraits of naked bodies.

Being able to hold down a steady job is relieving, it pays well, a boring position that is suitable for saving money. Saving money to drive yourself out of this Mormon hellhole. Daydream as you sit at a desk, send emails for someone else.

Daydream; Racing across icy tundra, through the Amazonian rainforest, climbing peaks. Maybe you’ve saved plenty, maybe your mind is stopping you, maybe your mind is shouting coward! on repeat.

You light another when there’s a quiet knock on your door.

“You know you don’t have to knock.” Playful statement.

She pushes the door open, small in an XL BYU Class of 2015 sweatshirt, baggy cut-offs, pads the short distance from the entrance to your mattress, plucks cigarette from your fingers. You grab her free hand, pull her to you, soft body folds easily into your lap. Long chestnut hair settles on shoulders.

Pass the cigarette back and forth, no prying questions, blank answers, avoidance. Last pull, drop the butt into a half empty glass of water on the floor. Sunset spews gold light.

Brush her curls back, kiss her neck, think maybe this is why you’re still here. Not money, not cowardice, but her. Best part of every day, when she crawls into bed in varying stages of undress, asks what you want for dinner.

She’s wonderful. She stays wonderful. She stays.

A Series of Chronological Haikus

London I
xxx
Countless days, wasted
Ever been this desolate?
Never sleeping right.
xxx
Belgium
xxx
Rude, nice, confusing.
Why are they excluding me?
Who are these children?
xxx
Catania
xxx
Me, mom. Three others.
We shouldn’t have come here with
Them. Please stop fighting.
xxx
Highgate Cemetery
xxx
Wet: moss, ivy, leaves
Darling wife, mother and. She’s dead.
Bodies keep melting
xxx
Amsterdam
xxx
Lights, fur cloak, champagne
I feel so old for sixteen,
Incompatible
xxx
Berlin
xxx
I am connected
Me/the city is pockmarked
Pain she remembers.
xxx
Istanbul
xxx
Yellow, blue, gold. Cats.
Mosques sound like muffled beehives
Nature conquers faith
xxx
Seattle
xxx
Sun, long car rides, lakes
I’ve never been happier
Laughing endlessly
xxx
Cumbria
xxx
Sheep bleating, dew grass
I cry on a mountaintop
The world is ending
xxx
Mother Nature doesn’t give a fuck. She will defeat us soon enough. 
xxx
London II
xxx
I learn to love you
No more wasted days.
Becoming home
xxx
Kew Gardens
xxx
Conservatory
Nice but, not real, not nature
What’s urban wildlife?
xxx
Scotland
xxx
Peat, fog, Irn Bru
Where the dinosaurs once roamed
Cold wind. I’m grinning
xxx
Edinburgh
xxx
Rusty typewriter
City of daffodil hills
A charming grey place
xxx
New York
xxx
Be my saving grace
Too much crying over boys
Dumb. Angry lipstick.
xxx
The summer of no bras and not shaving and wanting to heal myself.
xxx
Chiswick
xxx
Crystals, matches. Poof!
Blaze. Memories up in smoke.
All to heal myself
xxx
Portugal
xxx
Gold: peaches, shells, sun
Back hurts. I can’t get up. Please.
Make me a sand throne
xxx
Seattle
xxx
An entire year, gone
Slicing meat, taking names, I
Have to split, cut quick.
xxx
Oregon
xxx
Water’s inviting
Where the dinosaurs roam, but,
Be careful, don’t slip
xxx
Lopez
xxx
Dirty kids play drums
We are bad at making fires
Fresh. Doors stay unlocked
xxx
Montreal
xxx
I feel rain on me
Wet, not made by my own skin
Elation chokes me
xxx