Poetry Section Table of
Open Letter (Sept. 30, 1972)
Bury the Skull of a Yak
From “The Protest Diaries”
The War of Wars
Open Letter (Sept. 30, 1972)
In this open letter from the Fall of 1972, Allen Ginsberg
urged people to work hard to help defeat Richard Nixon in the
upcoming election, and warned of the dangers of continuing
along the same failed path of war and violence. Logos thanks
Bill Morgan, Allen Ginsberg's longtime archivist, for
contributing this previously unpublished letter and the Allen
Ginsberg Trust for permission to publish it.
Allen Ginsberg [n.p.] to Open Letter/Statement [n.p.] [Sept.
Letter currently found at: Private collection
Instant Karma: Alarm! Alarm! Election war issue clear, Vietnam
bathed in blood pain, Indochina covered with millions of
bomb-craters, U.S. $72 Billion military Tower of Babel
disordering American household, illegal State violence
corrupting American street & culture, Youth counter-culture
paralyzed missing chance McGovern & Indochina Peace Campaign,
fresh consciousness would dissolve Nixon sleepwalk hypnosis
victory! Don't be crazy! Don't let Nixon get back in the White
House & assassinate Indochina another half-generation with
Automated Electronic Battlefield war, make McGovern win,
everyone help do it, Pray ring doorbells all folk register
vote McGovern, Ah!
30 September '72
BURY THE SKULL OF A YAK
Poetry is the enemy of chance
Poetry is the daughter of chance.
cede our fear to love
This was one meditation one night. Starry.
Return of all creeps from Contra
(North, Poindexter) building their dangerous house
Ernesto in his cups tonight, what’s poetry’s edge?
The memoir continues in the hope for future revolutionaries
That they be assuaged of fear
Prince Abdullah lifts his palms in prayer
It is the fifth cycle of night
& he resembles a mosque in his thinking
& he resembles a prayer rug for his hands to link above
Going back to pre June 1967 borders
Going back to the line of demarcation
When architecture turned to weaponry
The lines of scrimmage in heavy late Islamic Capitalism
“Talks?” “Talks?” “Who talks anymore?”
West Bank. Gaza. Who talks anymore?
Blood does not talk. What is lost by blood?
A truce is a contiguous stretch
It will be it will have to be over when the oil runs down
When the sand gets in your eyes. Pitch your tent over there.
When “they” carve up the Middle East where will it be?
Palestine in Saudi Arabia? Pitch a tent just over there.
This an old Hebraic thought through dread, through suffering:
What the second class citizen said to me in 1963 Aegypt.
That she wanted her own passport as we crossed the border to
& from Palestine, the note: You have to be here to see it,
I want my identity back…
To broker, to go broke, to be broken, to make do with less
The second night she did not sleep
Everyone below 14th Street Neuva York on Ambien. Ambien is in
the palace shoes tonight. I’ll try some, little Power Puff
girl, hand it over. Modest cushion against nightmare and
dream. (It was the totalitarian nightmare again – the part
with a huge pit for the body sifters). William Blake did not
tell me to be gloomy to be morbid, William Blake was not a
doll or set-up in this dream. And was never on pills you
betcha. Towers spoke of William Blake and of William Butler
Yeats and of William Shakespeare. The Williams were all
telephone booths in this vision and they did not let me down.
It was 1950 something in a little newspaper shack, the streets
were narrower then, we were all smaller the old war wasn’t far
behind us. Night mares ride in on voluble tides:
stick-in-the-gut kind. Shriek or impasse, well what is it? To
make you laugh, then ride on. Gesar of Ling with a whiff of
enlightenment’s crystalline mirror in which to see the
phenomenal world clearer, see it un-fragmented, reflected back
as neurotic as you happen to be. Armour is his scent tonight.
Rubble is a mushroom cloud. Detritus of my fairest city. The
hidden sanctuary. Protect the way I see you. Read: steed.
Read: speed. Read: need. Read: creed. Reade: bleed. Read
Tantrick space and time. Wake up on the spot. That spot is
glowing. Don’t tray, don’t tarry. Hurry, hurry. Bury the
remnants of the dead, bury the skull of a yak.
What are my henchmen up to?
After I saw the movie I wondered what is “control” to the
higher authority of meager mortal enemies? Could it be
A beautiful world order, I see the elements dancing in place.
I see it is not the lover, not personality, not the parent
identified with, not the angel in hiding behind the screen of
idolatry. I see it is not the proto-type for a new world order
yet. A New World Order yet. Yet trembling. I see it is not
charisma, I see it is not about “safety”, I see you are not
invested in a new world order yet. These are not interesting
to you have had hopes in a woman’s world for world leadership.
Leadership means landscapes, leadership accomplishes maps,
leadership moves the building blocks, the aminos around and
such. And such is a night of scheming.
You came back to it, say it: the question of troubled
“beauty”, one more time. They outside could hear it as a
miniature cry, an echo. There was so much struggle on the
asphalt, on the jungle turf, on the screens where they watch
the prisoners from, high in their towers that beauty went
Four nights in a row you think like this
A cell phone
For one entrapped authority over a trundle all you’ve got in a
bundle, our wunderkind one weary Lord Randall of poisoned asps
and retaliation. Amble handle brindle signaled his thoughts on
death and survival. So he, this guy, this prince, this
balladic lord, sits down with many men to follow. Men to feed
and mouths to follow in subsurvient cry. To cross a moat. To
signal with lanterns and hollers. He, our character, has been
anxious all long morning. Something – a message – a treasure?
has not yet arrived. Send to the other port, the other bridge.
He has been living in an artificial atmosphere brought on by
an early twentieth century maker of maps. Navigational
instruments important to the new territories also abound. Out
on the ocean now – having the qualities of restless storm and
dream –rocked or rollicked amidst by waves. His people always
had a boat or sea-faring mentality. You would judge a man by
his seaworthiness. You would indulge his capacity for
stomaching salt. And the women?
Night five was spent in a listing of powers (listen)
Freedom is meaningless without responsibility
Find a place that engenders reverie
Moon = flame
Our facets inform each other
Integuments of dream and chance
The witchy stew brews here
Build a temple
“Galaxy upon galaxy
of cow parsley”
Desire of a roof to discuss under:
My power is my dream cord
My power is my old siren song
My power is my taste of you
My power is melodrama of change
Dice in the hand of the Maiden
The leader was in his gray-dawn doldrums
It was nearing the winter solstice
The land was in disarray
No one could agree
Children did not listen to their parents’ words
It was a mutable form, this planet’s heydey
Yet the war was on hold for one more stretched day
Did you sleep
Did you not sleep
The totalitarian nightmare gripped the imagination of
A very young person: that was a start
& all about drowning
& then it all got started up again—swim, escape
move to higher ground.
From THE PROTEST DIARIES
August 27th - Macdougal & Houston:
Notice the surveillance blimp hovering over the critical mass
A swoop, helicopters circling, the swift cop cars 250
August 29 / Hot weather, exuberant friendly energy,
diverse, you got half a million folk more or less on the same
to that Other Death Wish Agenda. It got a little heavy
Square Garden where the anarchists set their dragon afire & 3
shoved me & others east on 33rd Street. Keep it moving. Some
panic, arrests. Over-reaction surely, a "paper dragon" fire
cop harassment, & yeah, check it out anarchists! small
in arms just a few inches away from smoke. Interesting
reaction to reaction to reaction and it felt like a Bardo
state – that
after death, that scary travel without reference point,
separated from the other beings -one's lover, child, friends,
contingent scattered. Mental sensations heightened.
Keep The World Safe for
Poetry (& everything else). Then back
to the body.
August 30 / Full Moon
When you thought about it what were the stakes? The end of
Nature, the end
of Civilization, a truly inhumane Dark Age if this keeps
up on the
How many moons (now moving at the fast clip of an inch and a
half per year
away from planet Earth) witnessed Fascism, watched people
"snagged", "set up"...
August 31st -
The big arrest night. Let's keep the Republicans from going
& commiserating with Eliot Katz why we weren't ready to go lie
down on the
street tho we wanted to. His back trouble, & me nervous about
out of the country for the job in Japan. And wanting to keep
the eyes & ears (if you only could) of all the streets in the
coptors in the sky
cops on the ground
captured (we) in between
Sept 1 - St Marks Church
Reminiscent of the old Hippie, Black Panther, Motherfucker,
Vietnam/American War Days - Soup kitchen in the graveyard -
Huge crowd in the steamy church hearing the poets belt it out
"strangle" Rumsfeld, Cheney etc). Voices beyond euphemism,
how sweet they
Anne Waldman, co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of The
Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa
University (www.naropa.edu) and
Chair of the celebrated Summer Writing Program, is the author
of over 30 books of poetry. Recent titles include IN THE ROOM
OF NEVER GRIEVE (Coffee House Press, in which "Bury the Skull
of a Yak" appeared), STRUCTURE OF THE WORLD
COMPARED TO A BUBBLE (Penguin), and the activist anthology she
co-edited with Lisa Birman, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCES: Poetics &
Politics in Action (Coffee House Press 2004) (See
www.coffeehousepress.org). She makes her home in
Boulder, Colorado & New York City and travels to other poetry
zones around the world.
THE WAR OF WARS
the twin plagues poverty and hate endure century upon
century upon century. hope crumbles like the twin Buddhas
of Bamiyan, or the great horns of Satan in the light of
the faithful are shackled by apathy & cowardice, the brave
neutralized by shadow malignancies, and the learned cowed
by authorities who enlist religious tenets to serve oppression
our cities are sugar-combed with de facto boneyards
citizen worth taxed then interred in acid earth/the dismissed
history of slavery-based racial dislocations and lynchings.
when will the beneficiaries abandon gluttony? the corporations
empty their vaults to the needy? the converted wed amens,
& hymns to bone sacrifice? when will the armchair poets rise?
Johnny, your gun for whose freedom to do what to whom?
Johnny, your gun in exchange for citizenship & scholarship?
Johnny, your heart for the invalidation of your being.
where is the flag-deep apology for slavery?
where are the reparations in culture & coin?
how, then, can the mending of our nation take place?
grandstand rhetoric and flaccid protest do not a power make.
there is a never. there is a too late
Wanda Coleman has
rejection slips into Guggenheim & NEA fellowships, and 17
books including Bathwater Wine, awarded the 1999 Lenore
Marshall Poetry Prize, a 2001 National Book Award bronze medal
for Mercurochrome (www.godine.com) , Ostinato Vamps (Pitt
Poetry Series 2003-2004) and Wanda Coleman's Greatest
Hits--1966 to 2004, Pudding House Press.
HAVE SOME PEACE AND QUIET PLEASE?
The belligerent voices are yelling in the streets
& on the radios calling for the big bombs of peace
to fall, the smart bombs, the bombs that have passed
their college entrance exams. It's Orwellian the way
everyone claims Orwell for their side--these days
everyone is fighting on behalf of Orwell and God.
Years ago Don Rumsfeld & Saddam Hussein met in
the corner & exchanged secret diplomatic handshakes--
it is only after peaceful gestures like these that the
can fly. In the meantime, the time between the world
mean as is and the world we mean to become,
the endless rains are Yehuda Amichai's tears watching men
still violently beating their swords into plowshares and back
into rifles & remote-control fighter planes. On the corner
of Spring & Broadway, a taxicab driver threw a baby lamb
out the passenger-side window--everyone in a two-block radius
ran away screaming. In New York City the yelling is
so loud and the quiet so quiet that everyone I know, just
the surface, is scared out their wits, knowing the violence
these days that can follow an apparent peace. They are calling
Senators with empathetic American voices, urging earthly
generosity and kindness, which the media & our elected leaders
interpret as a vote for pre-emptive strikes. The next
gods have not yet been born and the last century's are no
able to show a child the simple magic trick of pulling
its fingers away from a newly lit flame.
has become a bit sticky
some Iraqis have turned
& hand grenades
don't like tyrant Saddam
nor foreign invaders
dropping cruise missiles
and cluster bombs
In Basra the water supply
has been cut off
and we are seeing
of humanitarian disaster
war should never
have been viewed
as a latenight poker game
initiated by those
to send their own kids
into urban combat
It'll take millions of patriots
(truthfully the same folks)
to throw the lunatics
out the White House
Until then we are facing
more weekends from hell
as well more spring days
filled with thousands
marching down Broadway
for a democratic peace
This is one of the two
oldest stories on the planet
(both originating here)
Let the battle for ideas
replace those young corpses
growing cold under desert moons
BROKEN EGGSHELLS AND NO MAPS
They have captured Saddam in the bottom of a spider hole
unshaven & sedated, broken eggshells & poetry books
littering his lair. On the TV news networks they are
pretending that it no longer makes sense to have taken
an antiwar position, as if the capture of Saddam can
bring back 10,000 lives, can cure the broken eyesockets,
can eliminate the uranium cancer threat, can put the torn
pages back into international law books. It's a good
thing one more tyrannical leader is behind bars, but now
it's unknown whether the violence will slow or grow,
perhaps more Iraqis eager to resist the occupation
knowing the risk of Saddam climbing back on his throne
has ceased. Or maybe the Americans will be more
widely loved, I think it's unlikely but maybe the next
elected body will request being made the 51st state? It's
unknown, there are no maps made for this part of the new
century, the monuments are being shaped, but no one can agree
on the best material to fill the mold. Vivian, we are doing
our best to love each other in an imperfect world. If we wait
for perfection I will be 1,000 pounds heavier and the dust
from our bookcases will have long since learned to read
for itself. So we go ahead and try to improve our own
government, get one that will not suck up the healthcare,
welfare, housing, world hunger, and clean water money
into a vacuum pump of tax cuts & pulse-emitting, flesh-burning
weapons that won't work or should never be used. There is no
set formula sure to work every time. We set the temperature
to a "beat Bush" setting and then leave the room and go
to a few meetings and readings and rallies. When we return
home, we check to see whether the cake has arisen.
Eliot Katz is the poetry editor of Logos. He is also
the author of three books of poetry, including Unlocking the
Exits (Coffee House Press,
www.coffeehousepress.org), and the guest-editor of the
recent"Beat Bush issue" of Long Shot literary journal (www.longshot.org).