<<< Literary Lair
Literary Lair

Allen Ginsberg


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For Carl Solomon

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 machin- 
ery 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 tene- 
ment roofs illuminated, 
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 
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- 
ing 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, al- 
cohol 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 mo- 
tionless 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 Brook- 
lyn, 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 after 
noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack 
of doom on the hydrogen jukebox, 
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to 
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook- 
lyn Bridge, 
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping 
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills 
off 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-grind- 
ings and migraines of China under junk-with- 
drawal 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 hearts, 
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing 
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand- 
father night, 
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep- 
athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- 
stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas, 
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- 
ionary indian angels who were visionary indian 
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore 
gleamed in supernatural ecstasy, 
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- 
homa on the impulse of winter midnight street 
light 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 fire 
place Chicago, 
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the 
F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist 
eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom- 
prehensible 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 
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked 
and trembling before the machinery of other 
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 manu- 
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 
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose 
gardens 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 can- 
dle 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 sun 
rise, 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 pet- 
ticoat 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 hung 
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third 
Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy- 
ment 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 oblivion, 
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested 
the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of 
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 theology, 
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty 
incantations which in the yellow morning were 
stanzas of gibberish, 
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht 
& tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable 
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for 
an egg, 
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 unsuccess- 
fully, 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 sinis- 
ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the 
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, 
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- 
pened and walked away unknown and forgotten 
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley 
ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer, 
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of 
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- 
saic, 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 steam 
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying 
to 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 Eternity, 
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 on their knees 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 hyp 
notism & 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 in- 
stantaneous lobotomy, 
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin 
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- 
therapy occupational therapy pingpong & 
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 mad 
man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the 
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid 
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- 
ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench 
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- 
mare, 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. A.M. and the last telephone 
slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- 
nished 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 
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and 
now you're really in the total animal soup of 
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 vibrat- 
ing 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 
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human 
prose and stand before you speechless and intel- 
ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con- 
fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm 
of thought in his naked and endless head, 
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 







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