Wail (Tribute to Allen Ginsberg)

Connections

Being a haiku poet and highly interested in all things haiku, I did some research on the Beat Poets and Beat Writers of the 1950s and 1960s (also called the Beat Generation) who popularized haiku in America. Jack Kerouac’s novel, The Dharma Bums, featured a main character who wrote haiku and this influenced a whole generation of Americans and spawned a sub-cultural movement. One of the other pillars of the Beat movement was Allen Ginsberg.

Ginsberg’s poem, Howl, was influential in breaking down barriers in poetic expression. The publisher of Howl was arrested and brought to court for having published “obscenities”. The verdict was a landmark decision for artistic expression everywhere. The judge ruled that Ginsberg’s work was not obscene but a satirical artistic expression in the language of the street and therefore of merit.

Recently (couple months ago) I became more interested in Ginsberg and wanted to read some of his works, so I purchased the book Howl and Other Poems. Then, just last week, I had an opportunity to enter a poem into a contest which called for a poem in the style of Allen Ginsberg. Having been immersed in his work recently, I felt like I was ready to do this justice, to channel his voice and style, and to utilize his works as inspiration in a tribute poem to Allen Ginsberg.

Well, here it is. I trust you will enjoy this. To fully appreciate it, I recommend you read Ginsberg’s Howl Part I, which you can find HERE.

Wail

I have seen the tortured minds of my generation rise out of the ashes of insanity naked in new birth
born of one-night stands to fathers angry at street-level poverty looking for another damned fix
segregated from their heavenly connections by pulpit charlatans who mock Jesus with their lies
and foisted into a society rife with the embryonic anticipation of a litter of wide-eyed howling wolves–
they howl, wail in the pain of a toe-stubbed mind numb with the violent anguish of reverse Kaddish
corrupted thoughts that go down to dark black hell inside the earth’s churning stomach grueling
through another day of grinding fingers to stubs in stealthy hot steel mills of melting coke slag dross
or the tragic lost-in-limbo, non-racist clans that emerge from dust-filled caverns wearing black-face daily
rewarded for years of long lust labor with death by black lung just for trying to feed a frightened family:
unconscionable insanities pregnant with silent rage birthed a booming generation of undying phoenix
to sort out the mess of the death of a blitzkrieg of rotating swastikas grinding over the im-Maginot line
and the octopus strike of a rising sun’s rays dropping torpedoes out of the sky all over a pacifist ocean
anything but, revolving around one tiny island midway in the salty sea, a turning point of carrier death
delivering a scarred, walled, divided, dark cold war world (in a race against time) into our riled hands:
these are the fathers that beat the living shit out of us so that we would make something of ourselves
their thick black leather belts swishing through thin air to connect with naked ass anxiety that wailed
as mothers cowered in corners in this machismo pig-dominated world of sixties flower-child retribution  
yes, wailed for an opportunity to prove that their empty mirror looks were not just reality sandwiches
to be left at the gates of wrath over the death and fame of the unborn, but these best minds would rise,
rise from sad dust glories into bold new consciousness aware of the fall of America to entitled bastards
leaving seventies hallucinogenic mind breaths of yage letters and peyote epistles deep in Indian journals
for an eighties explosion of technology sending out a web of cosmopolitan greetings–a plutonian ode
in deliberate prose detailing the new nineties code–a cyber matrix of electronic virtual opportunity 
beyond the Y2K wherewithal of wonder-gurus poised to exploit the capital gain of worldwide attribution   
delivered by indies in iron horses to the doorsteps of the consummated–prime Amazon jungle packages,
all psychedelics notwithstanding this onslaught of otherworldly “a to z” distribution of new globalism
printed in a bound book of martyrdom and artifice pursued by terrorific faithful forgers of explosions,
nine-eleven sensibilities notwithstanding: in the twenty-tens first blues then reds separated purples
reaching beyond yellow viruses soaked in white lies with their twenty-twenty smiles hidden from view 
behind false-face shields of safety and protection for the sake of mass control litigation mitigating
the best minds silenced by the verbatim lectures and pinocchio talking points of the illuminated ones
who all know what’s best for planet earth, just read the planet news and don’t ask questions because 
politicians are the most forthright and honest people alive and would never steer us wrong, right, yeah
and here’s some land on the moon you can develop when you take your Musk journey into space to rise–
rise from the ashes of insanity naked in new birth, put on a white shroud, escape the doom of this world
to a new cosmic citizenship far away and beyond this reality into a place called eternity where lies die,
death dies, hate dies, and “evil” is reversed so we can “live” free and not die a sliced snake’s fiery death–
do you believe it–the best minds gathered to think, to reminisce, to tell tall tales of the former ways 
and days of insanity, laughing unrelentingly over some heavenly cognac to relax at the end of woes.

~~~~~~~~~~~

This poem is inspired by and is a tribute to Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg’s style in Howl includes very long lines that wrapped around to the next line. The hanging indents indicate continuation of the line above. Same with my poem, however, I was unable to add the hanging indents because it totally messed up the WordPress formatting all to hell.

So, the second shorter line in my poem is the continuation of the first longer line for each line. These shorter lines are really a continuation of the line above so that the poem is technically only 39 lines. I wish there was a better way to do it, but I think you can figure it out.

In tribute to Allen’s life and work, this poem also utilizes key words and phrases from all his book titles as a way to honor him and integrate his life’s works into the poem.

Here are the key words and phrases from the titles of his books, see if you can find them in my poem:

Howl
Kaddish
Empty Mirror
Reality Sandwiches
The Yage Letters
Planet News
Indian Journals
The Gates of Wrath
Iron Horse
The Fall of America
Verbatim Lectures
Consciousness
First Blues
Sad Dust Glories
Mind Breaths
Plutonian Ode
White Shroud
Cosmopolitan Greetings
Illuminated
Death and Fame
Deliberate Prose
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice
The Best Minds

The Poet-Philosopher’s Passion

One aspect of an authentic poet-philosopher’s passion is to help take on the world’s problems by getting to the heart of the matters and conveying that to others.

The poet-philosopher is a visionary who takes on the challenges of the world’s problems by diving into the depth of the matters at hand, seeking the most comprehensive and exhaustive understanding of these matters and issues in all realms of thought—science, philosophy, religion, art, and spirituality—and putting themselves into the shoes of everyone on all sides.

They investigate all facets, all dimensions, all ideologies so that they are the most empathetically empowered to then comprehend and convey the heart of the maters to the world, opening the door for an honest handling of the issues that will hint at, and lead to, inspiring solutions for all creation, all things living, and for all humankind.

The poet-philosopher is also sometimes prophetic in unveiling the potential ills or harms that may befall us if the problems at hand are not addressed and the course of society is not changed—and visionary in pointing to better ways and a better future.

Poetry has been called the highest form of communication in language, and it is, but it goes beyond that as well. Poetry not only communicates, it conveys. A powerful, thought-provoking poem is more than the sum of the words present. It is an organic entity to be experienced by the reader. It communicates on other than conscious levels and impresses itself on the mind and heart of the reader through these channels. In this way it conveys more than it says.

A poem doesn’t always do this by being heady, or abstract, or dealing in philosophical concepts.

A poem is a slice of life.

It is often a small scene or event presented and explored and conveyed in poetic language that says more than the words present. Philosophic thoughts of life may be the farthest thing from the reader’s conscious mind when reading a poem, but the way the poem conveys that slice of life is what impresses its philosophic thoughts of life on the mind and heart of the reader through these other than conscious channels.

A good reader of poetry will read a poem over and over to absorb its essence and to allow the organic power of the poetry to work behind the scenes to increase their empathetic understanding and to allow it to give serendipitous moments of understanding, noticing, awareness, enlightenment, and broader comprehension to the conscious mind.

This is the long legacy of poetry in our world. And it is a sad state of affairs when many in a society do not appreciate the power of their poets and the poetry of their generation—when they view it in disdain and regard poets as strange people who need to get a life.

What an error and fallacy of an unenlightened generation.

Nevertheless, the poet-philosopher’s passion is to bear with it and continue to dive into the challenges of the world’s problems and to continue to explore at depth and then craft their work to convey the true and genuine heart and state of affairs through these slices of life called poems.

Because the poet-philosopher is a visionary who refuses to live in the systemically erected box of society as programmed through the world’s media, they are often way out of place in their society and generation. And that is why, so often, a poet is not famous or recognized until after his or her death, in retrospect, after the rest of society catches up.