Howling with Ginsberg

By Phil Wright

I read your "Howl" and cried and roared and howled back.
I read your "Howl" from a beat-up Anthology of American Literature.
I read your "Howl" simply because I had never read you before.
There you were, just sitting on the page.
It was late at night, couldn't sleep,
What other excuse did I need.
What the hell, I thought, I'll read this
Ginsberg guy, see just what he's all about.
After the opening lines I grokked you in
Seeing the best minds of my generation
Destroyed by madness starving hysterical naked.
After the first part my mouth fell agape,
While my newly opening head Moloched with yours,
And then I was with you both in the rocked-up walls of Rockland.
Tears -- real, honest-to-God-tears -- welled in my eyes,
Broke from their dam,
Dropped onto the already full pages.
Read you as though in a fever I did, and stood
Dumbfounded and muted on your final punctuation point.

Finally finding my voice
I read you out loud to myself
Just to hear your words
Echo in real air and space-time.
I read you to the dust on the TV set.
I read you to the futon.
I read you to the wrinkles in the blanket covering the futon.
I read you to the plain-cheapo, because it's only a rental,
brown-apartment-carpet
And the newly Dover White painted walls that hold dark smudges
From where I smashed spiders to their deaths.
And I read you to those smudges,
Now regretting my own
Intolerance, ignorance, blindness.
I read you, yelled you, shouted you,
Balled you, wailed you, bellowed you, screamed you
Ejaculated you out loud
In my own ecstatic insatiate moment of total
Decadence and rapture and fulfillment of
Every last one of my raw, bleeding, throbbing,
Filled-up now with fucking life nerves,
Until my voice and throat cracked open wide
And out flew my pounding, bounding, lusting
Ginsberg filled heart.

Then I did it again.
I howled you to the world.
Crazed in your words
Drunk in your nouns and verbs.
I howled your words forth in a werewolf's cry
To the moon and the blood
And the eternal struggle for the human soul
-- Oh God! let there be one for us to struggle for --
In space too tiny to hold them
My mind too tiny to hold them
No way could I hold them
All in.
They stomped and tore and wracked me
Ripping all the pathos, bathos, cathos right out of
All that I was, am, and will be.
They burst out of my mouth,
They burst out of my throat, lungs, belly, and soul.
They burst out holy,
Ready to fight injustice in the world,
Ready to kick some serious ass,
Ready to knock down the bullshit.
Making me deliverer of your words in a blistering moment of
Dazzle and chaos orchestrated cacophony.
Spouter of your truths, our truths, human truths
-- so small that moment was the cosmos could blink its eye
And entire eternities would pass me by --
Yet there I was ink transfixed, transformed
Into images only a mind reading God could unfold.
One with your words.
All sound and fury,
Blood and muscle,
Human heart and human soul,
Dead poet's voice and dead poet's spirit.
Lightning through tear-blurred pages.
I spoke and stood your words made flesh.

 

Copyright © 2002 Philip Wright

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Currently Philip Wright teaches writing at a community college. Turn-on's (not necessarily in this order) include sushi, lean prose, deep dish poetry, pizza with extra cheese, coffee, classic rock, and dark haired women. Turn-off's include spam email and the "not un" combination in English.