amacker (amacker) wrote,

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HOWL turns 50

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,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up
smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats
floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw
Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs

who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the
scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing
obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their
money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through
the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise
Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and
cock and endless balls,

incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning
in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson,
illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,

Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront
boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun
and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of
Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,

who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from
Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of
wheels and children brought them down shuddering
mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of
brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,

who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out
and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate
Fugazzi's, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen

who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to
bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,

a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down
the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills of Empire State
out of the moon,

yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and
memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of
hospitals and jails and wars,

whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and
nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on
the pavement,

who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of
ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,

suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and
migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark's
bleak furnished room,

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad
yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken

who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and
bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at
their feet in Kansas,

who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary
indian angels who were visionary indian angels,

who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in
supernatural ecstasy,

who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma
on the impulse of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,

who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking
jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to
converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and
so took ship to Africa,

who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind
nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash
of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,

who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in
beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin
passing out incomprehensible leaflets,

who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the
narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,

who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square
weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos
wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten
Island ferry also wailed,

who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and
trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,

who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in
policecars for committing no crime but their own wild
cooking pederasty and intoxication,

who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged
off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,

who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the
sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,

who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and
the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their
semen freely to whomever come who may,

who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a
sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond &
naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,

who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one
eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew
that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that
does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual
golden threads of the craftsman's loom.

who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a
sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the
bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and
ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,

who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the
sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to
sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under
barns and naked in the lake,

who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen
night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman
and Adonis of Denver--joy to the memory of his
innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards,
moviehouses' rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or
with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat
upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of
johns, & hometown alleys too,

who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams,
woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up
out of basements hungover with heartless Tokay and
horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to
unemployment offices,

who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the
snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to
open to a room full of steamheat and opium,

who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-
banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of
the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in

who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab
at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,

who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts
full of onions and bad music,

who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge,
and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,

who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame
under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of

who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of

who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht &
tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,

who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an

who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for
Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads
every day for the next decade,

who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully,
gave up and were forced to open antique stores where
they thought they were growing old and cried,

who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on
Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the
tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the
nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the
mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down
by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,

who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened
and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly
daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even
one free beer,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the
subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on
negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken
wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of
nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the
whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet,
moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,

who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to
the each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or
Birmingham jazz incarnation,

who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had
a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out

who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came
back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver
& brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find
out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,

who fell in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other's
salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its
hair for a second,

who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible
criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in
their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,

who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to
tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to
the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn
to the daisychain or grave,

who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism
& were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,

who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and
subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of
the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of
suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,

and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy
occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,

who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and
tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards
of the madtowns of the East,

Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls,
bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in
the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream
of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the

with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out
of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 AM
and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the
last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of
mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire
hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but
a hopeful little bit of hallucination--

ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you're
really in the total animal soup of time--

and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with
a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the
catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,

who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of
the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental
verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness
together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens
Aeterna Deus

to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and
stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking
with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to
conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless

the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet
putting down here what might be left to say in time come
after death,

and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the
goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of
America's naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma
sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to
the last radio

with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of
their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.


Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons,
for you are crunchy and good with Ketchup.

And remember, the 9mm Glock goes to the *right* of the dessert spoon.
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