Poetry from the original green folderClick image for home page


The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
with unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum

Outside the leaves were falling as they died

A wind had blown away the sun

A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room

Outside the leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!


    for all I know maybe she was happier
                                                             than anyone
that lone crone in the shawl
                                     on the orangecrate train
         with the little tame bird
                                             in her hankerchief
                                     to it all the time
                                                                 "mia mascotta
     mia mascotta"
                             and none of the sunday excursionists
                                 with their bottles and their baskets
                                     paying any
     and the coach
                                 creaking on through cornfields
                     so slowly that


                              blew in and out


That fellow on the boattrain who insisted
on playing blackjack
had teeth that stuck out
like lighthouses on a rocky coast

he had no eyes to see
the dusk flash past

horses in orchards
noiselessly running
bunches of birds
thrown up

and the butterflies of yesterday
that flittered on
my mind


                                         and we stood about
                                                                     up in Central Park
                             dropping coins in the fountains
                                                                     and a harlequin
                                         came naked among
                                                                 the nursemaids
and caught them picking their noses
                                                       when they should have been



It was a face which darkness could kill
                                                         in an instant
      a face as easily hurt
                                 by laughter or light

            "We think differently at night"
                                                 she told me once
lying back languidly

                                    And she would quote Cocteau

"I feel there is an angel in me" she'd say
                                                         "whom I am constantly shocking"

            Then she would smile and look away
                         light a cigarette for me
                                                         sigh and rise
and stretch
                   her sweet anatomy

                                                let fall a stocking


    Constantly risking absurdity
                                              and death
           whenever he performs
                                            above the heads
                                                               of his audience
    the poet like an acrobat
                                       climbs on rime
                                                       to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                           above a sea of faces
                     paces his way
                                        to the other side of day
         performing entrechats
                                            and sleight-of-foot tricks
     and other high theatrics
                                            and all without mistaking
                         any thing
                                       for what it may not be

                 For he's the super realist
                                            who must perforce perceive
                         taut truth
                                           before the taking of each stance or step
         in his supposed advance
                                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                           with gravity
                                                      to start her death-defying leap
             And he
                     a little charleychaplin man
                                                        who may or may not catch
                         her fair eternal form
                                                      spreadeagled in the empty air
                              of existence


Sometime during eternity
some guys show up
and one of them
who shows up real late
is a kind of carpenter
from some square-type place
like Galilee
and he starts wailing
and claiming he is hep
to who made heaven
and earth
and that the cat
who really laid it on us
is his Dad

And moreover
he adds
It's all writ down
on some scroll-type parchments
which some henchmen
leave lying around the Dead Sea somewheres
a long time ago
and which you won't even find
for a coupla thousand years or so
or at least for
ninteen hundred and fortyseven
of them
to be exact
and even then
nobody really believes them
or me
for that matter

You're hot
they tell him

And they cool him

They stretch him on the Tree to cool
And everybody after that
is always making models
of this Tree
with Him hung up
and always crooning His name
and calling Him to come down
and sit in
on their combo
as if he is THE king cat
who's got to blow
or they can't quite make it

Only he don't come down
from His Tree

Him just hang there
on His Tree
looking real Petered out
and real cool
and also
according to a roundup
of late world news
from the usual unreliable sources
real dead


In Golden Gate Park that day
a man and his wife were coming along
thru the enormous meadow
which was the meadow of the world
He was wearing green suspenders
and carrying an old beat-up flute
in one hand
while his wife had a bunch of grapes
which she kept handing out
to various squirrels
as if each
were a little joke

And then the two of them came on
thru the enormous meadow
which was the meadow of the world
and then
at a very still spot where the trees dreamed
and seemed to have been waiting thru all time
for them
they sat down together on the grass
without looking at each other
and ate oranges
without looking at each other
and put the peels
in a basket which they seemed
to have brought for that purpose
without looking at each other

And then
he took his shirt and undershirt off
but kept his hat on
and without saying anything
fell asleep under it
And his wife just sat there looking
at the birds which flew about
calling to each other
in the stilly air
as if they were questioning existence
or trying to recall something forgotten

But then finally
she too lay down flat
and just lay there looking up
at nothing
yet fingering the old flute
which nobody played
and finally looking over
at him
without any particular expression
except a certain awful look
of terrible depression


In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
‘suffering humanity’
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of adversity
Heaped up
groaning with babies and bayonets
under cement skies
in an abstract landscape of blasted trees
bent statues bats wings and beaks
slippery gibbets
cadavers and carnivorous cocks
and all the final hollering monsters
of the
‘imagination of disaster’
they are so bloody real
it is as if they really still existed

And they do

Only the landscape is changed

They still are ranged along the roads
plagued by legionnaires
false windmills and demented roosters
They are the same people
only further from home
on freeways fifty lanes wide
on a concrete continent
spaced with bland billboards
illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness

The scene shows fewer tumbrils
but more strung-out citizens
in painted cars
and they have strange license plates
and engines
that devour America


Just as I used to say
love comes harder to the aged
because they've been running
on the same old rails too long
and then when the sly switch comes along
they miss the turn
and burn up the wrong rail while
the gay caboose goes flying
and the steamengine driver don't recognise
them new electric horns
and the aged run out on the rusty spur
which ends up in
the dead grass where
the rusty tincans and bedsprings and old razor
blades and moldy mattresses

and the rail breaks off dead
right there
though the ties go on awhile
and the aged
say to themselves
this must be the place
we were supposed to lie down

And they do

while the bright saloon careens along away
on a high
its windows full of bluesky and lovers
with flowers
their long hair streaming
and all of them laughing
and waving and
whispering to each other
and looking out and
wondering what that graveyard
where the rails end




                  was only half as far that night

at the poetry recital

                                  listening to the burnt phrases

when I heard the poet have

                                       a rhyming erection

                  then look away with a

                                      lost look

               'Every animal' he said at last

                    'After intercourse is sad'

        But the back-row lovers
                                            looked oblivious

                              and glad



Reading Yeats I do not think
of Ireland
but of midsummer New York
and of myself back then
reading that copy I found
on the Thirdavenue El

the El
with its flyhung fans
and its signs reading
"spitting is forbidden"

the El
careening thru its thirdstory world
with its thirdstory people
in their thirdstory doors
looking as if they had never heard
of the ground

an old dame
watering her plant
or a joker in a straw
putting a stickpin in his peppermint tie
and looking just like he had nowhere to go
but coneyisland

or an under shirted guy
rocking in his rocker
watching the El pass by
as if he expected it to be different
each time

Reading Yeats I do not think
of Arcady
and of its woods which Yeats thought dead
I think instead
of all the gone faces
getting off at midtown places
with their hats and their jobs
and of that lost book I had
with its blue cover and its white inside
where a pencilhand had written