goodbye, buddha poet

allen ginsberg (1926-1997)

swallowing blue?
sigh - - - -
and ease the pain of living

let chorus pass between breaths
he drains the maudlin from our eyes

here, still, live and full
we sing the song of yesterday
sorrow in the passing

calmly awed in Allen's melody
we sigh again
song still, song mind, sweet song

amiable, earthly melody bequest
in sweet adieu, America
we still have much to say

--Andrea McClanahan

I didn't hear about Ginsberg's death until the papers hit the racks the next day. I missed the news that night. I don't usually miss the news, but that night I did. I flipped right past the article at first... 'Raw and angry beatnik dies of cancer at 70.' I choked on my coffee. The picture showed Allen clutching at a sign - "Pot is a reality kick" in the snow somewhere in Greenwich Village in 1965. I wondered how appropriate that picture would be to anyone who didn't know his work. Even dead, the man whom John Lennon once left a party to avoid was still going to provoke a reaction. Wouldn't he have loved that?

I first read Allen Ginsberg when I found a copy of 'Howl and Other Poems' in my Dad's bedroom. I was 16. I sat in a corner of my room hearing Allen's images inside his head of murder and angels and death on the highway... and was altered. Allen Ginsberg crawled inside my head and rearranged a few fundamental connections. I became a beatnik 30 years too late. I made my girlfriend read 'Howl' and she hated it. My friends thought Kerouac's sentences were too long, and what was I doing reading a dead guy anyway? And didn't I know that the superette on High Street would sell copies of Playboy to under-agers?? I told them to fuck off. This stuff was MINE as far as I was concerned... Sure seemed that no one else wanted it anymore. My English teacher confiscated my copy of 'Howl' because it had the word 'fuck' in it. I had to laugh - if only she'd seen my copy of 'Naked Lunch.' Small town schools can be that way.

Goodbye Allen. It's not like I knew you or anything. Hell - you probably would have hated me. I never really thought like a Beat. But then who said Beats had to bend themselves to a common mindset? Love may be blind but so is art.

When Walt Whitman asked 'Are you my Angel?' in 'A Supermarket in California' my feet left the floor, and the stiff breeze blew me somewhere else. With that sentence I knew Allen had found me at last.

Later, dude. Everything I ever wrote I somehow stole from you.

--Thurston Asher

scan of tribute article by Karen-Powell Riggs

Ginzy's Voice

holy in the naked field
shines the wild sun
on you laughing Allen,
rheumy Rumi
tail-chasin' Taliesin
easy-bake Blake
with your howl that opened my chest with all its treasure
brought my heart out blinking like a newborn
lamb lyin' down with the truth (is a child that's always gettin' used to the

holy the sun burnin' with the glory of itself
in its core, holy the reaction burnin
holy, man
holy man
wholly embracing the crazy blood and grind
wholly walking into the horror of the song
and spinning Naomi some beauty out of every moment's kaddish
for all the murdered hopes that hang in time like butterflies
spattered across the windshield,
for all the murdered hopes
all of them
Allen prayed with his blood sweat tears jism spit bile
refined mind hungry soul
his voice shimmered across the sky like a wheel of fire
his voice murmured down low under the street
fire in a trash can
sapphire in a storm drain
his voice walked on madness like water
his voice
his happy howl
his anguish song
laughed at war because it had to
cried at love because it had to
took us all
toward the sun
took us all
into the moon across the silver fields of solitude shining
took us all in that beat never beaten
heartbeat in the quiet of the night he slipped away the failing weight
of body that was losing song and into the purest thing,
he slipped into the song
broke the barrier of song
and sang out of more throats than ever
sang in the murdered hopes come alive in the shuddering wind full of souls;
breathe, breathe deep
spread that song like oxygen into the
hungry lungs of spiritus mundi who twists in the wind maimed and horny, sing in
the sunlight
with the jester and the naked genius,
sing in the orixas, sing in elijah
sing in the goddess, sing in the saints marching in on jazz,
sing in our souls to save our souls

and the truth is a child
say the truth is a wild queer boy raised by wolves
all sharp teeth and soft fur
and his own singing language
say the truth saw baghdad
say the truth saw robert taylor homes
say the truth saw the shoes piled up at auschwitz
say the truth saw a cold vet starving
in his wheelchair outside the rich man's house
say the truth saw tianenmen
say the truth saw sarajevo
say the truth went out looking for love;
yes, love....raised by wolves the truth knows how to hunt
knows justice follows love and drinks from its footprints
and will not go in agent orange places where love is not,
say what would truth do then,
he'd howl, baby.

Sweet Allen
You have left your voice behind
Your voice is no longer yours
Your voice is ours.
We put it on. Nervously.
With reverence.
With urgency
With sweaty hands.
This is so important.
This becomes so easy.
You have given us your voice
so we can learn to speak
The first word:
The last word:

--Monica Kendrick

0023 EDT // Mon 7 Apr 97 // BklnNYC

AG Was A Good Cat;
          AG is A Buddhist.

The UnEnlightened are Re-Incarnated
                    All UnKnowing.

The EnLightened Choose to Be Re-Incarnated
                    - Thus Is The Path.

So Goodbye AG;
          Welcome Back!
                    ( "I'll Be Back" - A. Schwarzenneger )

Catch Ya down th' Road a Piece;
                I'll Be Lookin' for You....

Another GhostDancer.

On The Road.


eLTyger : j.BOLT SThAR eNYCh


"Father Death
Don't cry anymore,
Mother's there
Underneath the floor,
Brother Death
Please mind the store..."

Does death really exist, Allen?

Lunar/Solar Eclipse
Within one month foretell
The birth/passing of
And you slipped away
Amidst the chant

"Certain is death for the born
Certain is birth for the dead"

Gray windy April
Ginsberg's Mahasamahdi
Now we can pray to you
And know you'll hear us

Working class Bodhisattva
Invoke yr aural shakti
And every sentient being
Pulls back the veil

Crouching in front of Muktananda's Portrait
Oakland Ashram
Chanting for a full week
In Dallas Hotel
Guru Om
On each breath

Breathe syllables
Prague '65
Kral Marales
Twenty year reign

Breathe syllables
Chicago '68
Violence does not touch you

Breathe syllables
NYC '74 mugging
Robbed of $70
Sell poem to Times
For $500

Does death really exist, Allen?

Now in the bardo
Trungpa Rinpoche guiding you
Past wrathful dieties
Hungry ghosts
To be with
Where not even dead communists/FBI
Can fuck with you now

The comet seems brighter tonight
The tail longer with colors
As you and Jack
Contemplate cosmic debris laden
On moons of Jupiter/Saturn

"Guru Death
Your words are true
Teacher Death
I do thank you
For inspiring me
To sing this blues..."

Paul McDonald © 1997

sunday morning is

no sun up
dogs out in the woods
the moon descending
low in the south east sky
my feet, unsteady
I put out food for the birds
my little ritual of morning
call in the dogs
c'mon girls, guysyoutoo
almost as a single word
where do we go to.
where do we go
the smell of 5:30 a.m. coffee
dogs lapping up water from the
father death blues
trouble in mind
ghost dance
I watch as a 6:40 sun arrives
to dry my laundry, hanging on the
line like prayer flags on mountain
trees. So the paper here gave a nice
obituary, it was the NY Times one it's
no wonder...
sunday morning
i'm so lonesome i could cry
father death blues again
coltranes greensleeves
broken flag
mourning doves light to feed first
marianne faithfuls voice brings me back
to my own little compound
i'll keep it with mine
out back a breeze makes the empty clothes
dance.E -Bow the letter
man on the moon
father death blues
light from a satellight
i'll take you over there
when you do return
you'll be even better
you'll be even/better
not going into the same
river twice
for now please go gently
you're saying your goodbyes now
om ah hmmmmmm

angels have wings mermaids have gills
ghosts have a mass of
cloudy grey area

that's just the way it
always is.supernatural
is the super hero
above the astral plane
is our final frontier
resting place.forgotten
forget me not.collecting
dust in the waiting room
of seventh heaven.
angels have wings
mermaids have gills &
ghosts hang out in a limbo
wonderland,messing around with
ouija boards & trying to contact the living.i don't know if you got this one


"Allen Ginsberg Saved My Life" by Bob Timm

Dear Mr. Ginsberg

I touched your hand for a fleeting moment,
And felt your jungle pulse.
Your ape like physical warmth,
Your shark like sharpness mental mindery.
You dripped with the land of milk and honey,
Wordsmith,Tunesmith, Pervert, Nurse, Daemon, Witch, Brother.
I miss you like I miss my shadow.


I met you during the summer of 1972 in Miami Beach at the Democratic and
Republican Conventions. We were there for a common save lives that were being destroyed by Nixon's Vietnam War machine. You inspired me to persevere in struggling against such a dark was hip Yiddishkeit to me..You was the hip rabbi of the Haight who brought spiritual possivity to our forces during those trying times..You along with Abbie, Jerry, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, George Jackson, Janis, Jim Morrison, Huey, Leary, Kunstler are all busy organizing a Be-In in Hippies Heaven to remember our summer of love.. I laughed when you publicly dubbed me as a pie-throwing parent. If you are a computer terminal in heaven... visit me and say hi

allen ginsberg's work
a blood clot on my toilet seat
some mystery of the universe
explained by color and the passing
of fluids externally

the man could love dirt
from all that's been said
could charm the nans off a monkey
defender of the faith
and chief of the golem tribe

"Howl" is all I know
a few lines at best
read aloud over a beer,
some hugs, and kisses
inscribed to me

two friends' red blooded
ambition that petered off
once distance and our hormones
relinquished their control

I admire his courage and determination
the inspiration passed along to others
the fire from the bowls that will not be forgot

my graphical tribute:
for allen ginsberg, "howl" (1997)

--Douglas Penn

Allen and Patti
the two most influentual poets in my life
memory 1972: a 16 year old boy fearful of this thing that tormented his waking dreams, I'm different, I'm queer, I'm not, I am in love with my best friend, Ohh God what if anyone finds out.... English class:Miss Arneel said give us a report on the poet or writer that you most admire, of course there was no hesitation that would be Allen, what balls it took to read Howl in front of my middleclassuburbanuptightclassmates, their mouths wide open at scenes of depravity and assfucking, things I dreamed of making a reality. Feting this madman, this Beatnik!, this, this HOMOSEXUAL, my God! I got an A.

cut to 1975, driving in car this song comes on the radio, Land of a 1,000 Dances, I'm there in the hallway with Johnny, I'm gone,gone to another dimension...
My life changed in that moment I was inspired by my muse Patti and moved to NYC and lived apunkandneverlooked back.
Oh Allen who composed a poem to me in rejection of my book of Planet Waves offered as autograph fodder, to treasure forever "I'm not the Allen Ginsberg who signs a book and dosn't look you in the eye and say hello how are you, No I won't sign that, there are a lot of old friends here, if you'll excuse me" Oct 1996 St. Marks Church.
Oh Allen friend of Marc Israel who I pick up hitching in Mexican Hat, Arizona & tell him before I know him that Allen Ginsberg is my favorite poet.
Oh Allen who inspired me to tell the truth, to be gayand proud of it!
Oh Allen lover of Neal Casady whose cock I would give anything to feel in my ass.
Oh Allen I read Kaddish today for you and not Jewish but said Kaddish for you JewishBuddhistHomosexualPoetKingofMay.
Oh Allen who in 1960 wrote he would die of cancer.
Oh Allen I'll miss you but your energy now transformed and transcended and my life forever changed from you.
Goodbye Allen
Chris Reilly

Upon hearing the news Pam and I drove up to Ginsberg's Committee on Poetry farm to feed the birds and meditate.


April 5, 1997

Chirp, chirp, chirp
Ginzy gone
I broadcast the seeds
bread crumbs from the compost
for little animals and birds

Chirp on the phone, chirp on the radio
broadcasting them seeds
Janine left a message on the phone
I read it in chirp cyberspace

Up Lancaster St. we drove
past the bank on East Hill Road
New house where'd you come from
another house along this road

that one didn't used to be there
yet another on the way to the farm
that was the idea of a farm for poets, etc.

The great view of the Mohawk Valley
its early spring mauves and browns
old crops of gold fields stalks

Didn't take the shortcut where
Ray froze his fingers round a beer can
walking to Cherry Valley in a blizzard

Turn off the paved road
Bad hill bad ruts from spring washes
Peter needs to get that tractor
and haul some dirt and gravel

Like he usta with the manure spreader
Julius faithfully standing on the hitch
Big tractor at the corner
have to walk in here
Roads all wet, parts covered with snow

Hear the birds already
Get the bread pieces
throw a few
tie my shoe

Walk down the slushy ruts
through mud and snow
old craggily cherry tree
must be a hundred

You said the old ones were wiser
"broadcast" the bread a metaphor
when you were born, tho most had radio
more bread for the bashful birds

Stop here to rest and share
my hard bagel with the birds
hmm. that doesn't taste bad
maybe I'll eat it meself.

Hardly a sound up here in hushed forest
the snow is silent in the deer tracks
Pam says the daffodils are in bloom

I'll put some bread crumbs on the porch
not on this chair with peeling paint
Bread on the old maple tree
bread on the rock for innocent creatures

A rag is hanging on the old clothesline
and the barn door needs repair
the whole barn actually, I'll leave
some crumbs by the outhouse and
the barn and the cherry tree

On the road back a woodpecker
breaks the silence, hammering perfectly
like a Whitman carpenter
Burdock sticks like Velcro
Bread on the windowsill
bread on the rock

Old truck rusting away
new tires rotted in place
never helped anyone
get anywhere or nowhere anymore.

The air always changes on East Hill
like the atmosphere of heavens
the stars come down to
a respectable level in
case you need to chat with 'em

It is heavy now and the sun is
burning like chrome in the grey sky
the woods are mauve and brown dark green
the green and grey neglected cottage
weathers by the green and grey pound

The mountains and the sky are all blue
various shades enshrouding the Evergreens
white birch arises from moss green rock
of old hills and forests

You walked me to the boundary
twenty-nine years ago
probably talking of Whitman and Death
Now you know.
And I know
The Committee on Poetry is a bird,
a barn, a pond, a daffodil, an outhouse
And a silent cottage of memory rooms.


Here is a poem in tribute to Allen Ginsberg:

Best Mind of His Generation.

Simon "SeaMoon" Seamount

Ballad of Skeletons/Dia del Muerte

Gosh! How wonderful to see everyone's tributes to Ginsberg tonight. I feel, like Ms.Piss does, very positive about his passing. Nice to move on from the broken shell. He was with his friends as he passed and apparently made numerous phone calls before departing. Brothah Buddah! Still, it seemed strange last night to light a candle, take a bath and listen to him sing 'Amazing Grace' off his Ballad of the Skeletons CD. This all **HAD** to be part of his (and his creator's) plan.

Ciao Allen. Thank you for all those evenings at Beyond Baroque

--Yana Ya Ya

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The most violent of [the filthiest sailors] hold these fragile poems
between their teeth as they sometimes hold in their fingers the twigs and
threads which will be the masts and gear of a schooner imprisoned in the
crystal of a flask. --Jean Genet

Allen Ginsberg was not my favorite poet, but I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't know who he was. Even as a toddler, before I could read, I saw photos of Ginsberg in my parents' newspapers and magazines. In one, he was standing next to a popcorn machine, and I thought in my childish mind, "He must be a very nice man, since he has his own popcorn machine." When told by my father who that man was, in honor of this picture, I named a stuffed frog that was as big as I was "Froggy Ginsberg."

I met Allen on two occasions, and he was a kind, open, and honest man who was very difficult to ignore. Regardless of the age, sex, or class of his admirers, he would listen graciously to them and their descriptions of how he had changed their lives. He would name endless obscure (and famous) bands upon request. He attracted a wide variety of listeners but always lured the young, generation after generation. I once saw a room full of teenagers sitting at his feet like seekers listening to a guru. I saw a room full of adoring Generation X'ers who were too terrified to approach him at a party, staring at him like an icon, which made him break the ice with, "Hey, could somebody get me a diet Pepsi?"

I like to think that Ginsberg was not ferried across the river to the land of the dead by Charon last Saturday, but that Neal and Jack pulled up in a '49 Hudson with the engine revving, waiting to give him a ride over to the other side.

-- Kimberly Bright


for Allen Ginsberg

Right now I'm in Asheville Ashville Ashville
Ash yes the right place the right time Ashes
Burned Burned Failed Destroyed Ashes
So what do I do? Quit? Give up? Become cinder for that
longdistanceneverending railroadtracktonowhere?
Give up? Allen Ginsberg preaches "take a hand" "share the word"
The poetry gospel coming from the gonads the solar plexus
the heart and the head yes thank you Allen for the
energy for the love and my head rises a little
to watch my son, Dylan, and my daughter, Rani Bri,
dancing to the B52s' LOVE SHACK playing on the jukebox
in Asheville and I'm lookin at the moon over the mountain
thinkin bout the kid from Denver and the others from Cheyenne
and I think of Denver and of Dean Moriarty
of Neal Cassady's flame gone gone gone
his naked body lying beside those
longdistanceneverending railroadtrackstonowhere
and I hope those kids from the west
hell I hope all of us
keep the funk
keep that Fuck You flame that gnostical turpitude flame
don't let the system break you don't let life break you
so that when the time comes when your time is up
you either go screamin or go with peace in your heart
into that dark night
and now somebody's playing the blues on the piano
and yeah two days ago Rani and I were sittin
at Ginsberg's table in New York City talkin bout Asheville
talkin bout the 20 grand Kent and I lost puttin on that
48 hour non-stop music and poetry INSOMNIACATHON to
kickoff NYU's 50 Year Celebration of the Beat Generation
and I'm talkin with Allen Ginsberg and Herbert Huncke and
Gregory Corso but like when Marc Smith proclaims his name
the audience responds "so what"
and I'm thinkin bout Marc Smith and Allan Wolf and Ray McNiece
and Richard Cambridge and Ginger and Lee and The Green Door
and Poetry Alive
and I know few know how much work the workers do the poets do for
but I know now that the reward the pay is in the experience
and suddenly I remember that the Ash
in Celtic and Scandinavian Mythology is the tree
most generally associated with magic
and yes here I am in Asheville with
all these poets who somehow know the alchemical magical
power of poetry of the word yes manger du livre
eat the book and the word will set you free
and I'm in Asheville thinkin bout Allen Ginsberg
and what he said bout takin somebody's hand
cause we're all in this together we're pullin
we ain't pushin we're lettin it be
we ain't forcin it and I realize that a poem like a
painting or a song is only the representation of
an actual experience the real poem is the event itself
and right now I'm thinkin bout the caesarian births
of our three children and Nancye's stomach cut open layer
by layer til each time an angelic face with Buddah smile
appears and I'm thinkin bout Allen Ginsberg
in Asheville and out of the ash that I am I feel an energy
risin through me growin strong comin from poets of
all ages and I'm in Asheville
but it don't feel like failure no more it feels
friendly it feels good it feels strong like some kind of
into poetry
into life
it feels like
Right Now
Right Here
in Asheville

Ron Whitehead

Copyright © Ron Whitehead 1997

I've always thought most Ginsberg fans took him too seriously, and most detractors didn't take him seriously enough; so I'd like to remember him by a poem that shows that, at least at one time, he knew just how seriously to take himself.

This is one of the pieces collected at the back of Howl and Other Poems (San Francisco: City Lights, 1956). Just like everybody else, I think "Howl", part I, is his one major work; but the minor pieces of the same time are worth reading too, and they give a clue to the spirit of his apocalypse. This is a persona poem, in which he plays himself in several half-mocking voices at once: the young poet not always in touch with his Muse, the young prophet not always in touch with his God -- and the young bohemian seduced despite himself by the charms of domesticity; all in a light, fragile, unstable line blended of diary-like prose notation and Whitmanic orotund velocity.

-- Vance Maverick


The flower in the glass peanut bottle formerly in the kitchen crooked
    to take a place in the light,
the closet door opened, because I used it before, kindly stayed open
    waiting for me, its owner.

I began to feel my misery in pallet on floor, listening to music, my
    misery, that's why I want to sing.
The room closed down on me, I expected the presence of the Creator, I
    saw my gray painted walls and ceiling, they contained my room,
    they contained me
as the sky contained my garden,
I opened my door
    The rambler vine climbed up the cottage post, the leaves in the
night still where the day had placed them, the animal heads of the
flowers where they had arisen
    to think at the sun

    Can I bring back the words? Will thought of transcription haze my mental open eye?

    The kindly search for growth, the gracious desire to exist of the
flowers, my near ecstasy at existing among them
    The privilege to witness my existence -- you too must seek the sun...

    My books piled up before me for my use
    waiting in space where I placed them, they haven't disappeared,
time's left its remnants and qualities for me to use -- my words piled
up, my texts, my manuscripts, my loves.

    I had a moment of clarity, saw the feeling in the heart of things,
walked out to the garden crying.
    Saw the red blossoms in the night light, sun's gone, they had all
grown, in a moment, and were waiting stopped in time for the day sun
to come and give them....
    Flowers which as in a dream at sunset I watered faithfully not
knowing how much I loved them.
    I am so lonely in my glory -- except they too out there -- I
looked up -- those red bush blossoms beckoning and peering in the
window waiting in blind love, their leaves too have hope and are
upturned top flat to the sky to receive -- all creation open to
receive -- the flat earth itself.

    The music descends, as does the tall bending stalk of the heavy
blossom, because it has to, to stay alive, to continue to the last
drop of joy.
    The world knows the love that's in its breast as in the flower,
the suffering lonely world.
    The Father is merciful.

    The light socket is crudely attached to the ceiling, after the
house was built, to receive a plug which sticks in it alright, and
serves my phonograph now...

    The closet door is open for me, where I left it, since I left it
open, it has graciously stayed open.
    The kitchen has no door, the hole there will admit me should I
wish to enter the kitchen.
    I remember when I first got laid, H.P. graciously took my cherry,
I sat on the docks of Provincetown, age 23, joyful, elevated in hope
with the Father, the door to the womb was open to admit me if I wished
to enter.
    There are unused electricity plugs all over my house if I ever
need them.
    The kitchen window is open, to admit air....
    The telephone -- sad to relate -- sits on the floor -- I haven't
the money to get it connected --

    I want people to bow as they see me and say he is gifted with
poetry, he has seen the presence of the Creator.
    And the Creator gave me a shot of his presence to gratify my wish,
so as not to cheat me of my yearning for him.

Allen Ginsberg
Berkeley 1955

In the early Eighties I was an art/english
dropout working at an awful discount
bookstore in Bethesda, Maryland. One day
there was a group of people across the
street looking up at the sky. I stepped
outside my store to see what they were
looking at and saw nothing. Later one of
the people came in the store and I asked
what they were looking at. "Allen Ginsberg
is teaching a writing course. He asked us
to look up and describe waht we saw." I
didn't really know who Allen Ginsberg was.

My brother died in 1986.
My mother died in 1990.
Life and new love hit me lifted and shifted
me in 1991
I had a beautiful son in 1992.

In 1995 I saw a documentary about Allen here
at the National Gallery of Art. He was
chanting at the sit ins and he was studying
Buddhism and he was speaking-being about his
mother. I cried I laughed I awoke. He was
electric and living and crazy and vibrating
as the universe must vibrate.

I was changed, my words my art my being
unleashed by Allen Ginsberg. All the doors
were opened that single chanting thought
flooding day and will never never be allowed
to close or even exist again.

It's Monday, April 7 and around noon I sat
at my desk (I'm a programmer at the National
Gallery of Art) I was writing some new moon
thought flood when I heard of Allens

...yesterdays gods
worship time
go to trash cans
   look at ground
get todays trash
to move through time
back to make
yesterdays altar

use what is there
what is obvious
and uncontestable
this is your reality
and creativity is
a weapon
you can use to destroy
them that enslave all free
thought and destroy life on earth
which may be the first life in the universe

Thank you so much for the tribute pages. I
owe so much to Allen. I have so much
reading to do. Bless you and all you
benevolent loving universes out t/here.

--Marty Drake

I was seventeen.
Poet Allen Ginsberg appeared to me, one evening, in the little library of my little town. The book had an american/italian version of "howl".
Saint Fernanda Pivano!
It was in the top level place and I read it standing on the stairs, because I couldn't stop after the first few words/worlds...
I didn't bring the book at home, because of my very close-minded parents.
But everyday I went to the library to meet my new, secret, desperate, blessed, revelation of life.

Thank You.


My First Encounter With Allen Ginsberg

I remember well that first meeting with Allen Ginsberg. It was the mid-sixties and I was a highschool student at Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio. My friends and I hung out at a University Circle coffeehouse called La Cave which was a stop on the national folk circuit. Each week another artist would pass through like Odetta, Phil Oches, Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, Eric Von Schmidt, Buffy St. Marie, Eric Anderson, Jesse Collin Young, Tim Buckley and Richie Havens. In another category, far above the rest, was Dylan! He was the groundbreaker, the poetic visionary. Dylan's songs had introduced us to the magic of poetry as popular art. I had noticed a photo of Ginsberg on the back of a Dylan album, and had rushed to my neighborhood bookstore asking for anything by Allen Ginsberg. They had a copy of "Howl", which I snatched up and devoured. Shortly thereafter, when I saw a notice that Allen Ginsberg was going to recite "Howl" at a church near University Circle, I wasn't about to miss it. Hearing Allen recite Howl shattered the walls of my midwestern suburban 50's upbringing. This meeting with Allen was one of the most pivotal experiences of my life, along with a plane trip from Boston to LA with Timothy Leary and an afternoon spent with Ram Das in Taos. Last year Tim left the body and Ram Das recently had a stroke. Now, Allen's transition reminds me of the transitory nature of human existence and inspires me to savour each moment, be here now, question authority and dance ecstatically into the Light.

--Kris Kane

Shalom, Allen

I know, Allen, I know.
We were high then,
you and I,
happy and free,
living each in his own
solitary enclave
where we howled
against the philistine
gang-brains of the world.

Now you are gone,
and I am none the more
because we always loved
knowing how to do that,
fellow soldier,
and I'll see you bye
and bye,
when I meet you
in Brahma,
and properly
There we will dance
old hand,
you and Peter,
she and I,
in that sweet holler
up yonder.
Peace, O sage,
The light to thy
burden now...
but is this the coarse
mantle of thy rage?
Would I might
leave it lay,
Brave one!

Copyright © April '97 J.P. McDonald
Youbetcherassido Enterprises

Ginsberg: A Pointless Anecdote in Which Howl Is Read

The first time I heard Howl is read, I was 23 years old, living in Berkeley, and trying to cope with the rigors of life as a grad student in mathematics.

Some friends suggested that we go to a "Poetry Slam" in San Francisco. The idea, as I understood it, was that poets would get up, read from their work, and compete for valuable cash prizes. It seemed bizarre, and still does, but I like poetry readings and I like going to cafes, so it seemed like a good way to spend a pleasant evening.

We took BART (a sort of subway) from Berkeley to San Francisco. And, as we sat politely chatting, I noticed a strange man on the car. He was enormously obese, badly dressed, and hunched over a copy of The Hunt for Red October, reading intently. His whole body was shaking as he read and he would occasionally glance up, looking to make sure that no one on the train was looking at him. I continued to surreptitiously study him, inventing pasts which led up to his present: obviously disheveled and paranoid, reading Tom Clancy, and riding the train.

Of course, he followed us to the cafe where the poetry slam was being held. I was overcome with anticipation-- was he a contestant ? What sort of poetry would he write ? And would it jibe with all the stories I had just made up about him ? As he entered the cafe, he put the paperback in his coat pocket, ordered a latte, and began to stare at the podium in eager anticipation.

At which point my friends noticed him. And, as I gleefully gave them all sorts of details ("See that bulge in his coat pocket. Betcha anything it's a Tom Clancy novel. Probably Hunt for Red October"), the organizers of the poetry slam began testing the microphone.

Somebody began reading Howl. As the first words, strangely distorted by feedback, echoed throug the room, the strange man erupted.

"Hey!!!" he screamed. "You didn't write that. Read something you wrote."

The person at the microphone continued to read as wires were rearranged and dials were twiddled. And the strange man continued to scream.

"Hey!!!! Do something original. At least read it in f*****g Spanish."

An organizer rushed over and said something about this being a test, about how the original poetry would be read later. But the strange man could not be mollified. He left the cafe, muttering angrily. "It's not his. He shouldn't read it in public. It's not his."

Later, when the mic test was over, we listened to junior poets reading their works-in-progress. And, in due course, one of the them won $50.

But I couldn't help feeling that the strange man deserved the money more.

--Andy Grosso

ballad of the skeleton

city...but who cares, people young and old breathing deep buddhist breaths across the country, looking at the sky and knowing allen is in a better place than the here and now. surprised and happy that mr. ginsberg was the lead story on NBC news, nationally, with patti smith commenting on the scene at allen's deathbed.

ginsberg was someone i always expected to be around, in my neighborhood, buying fruit, fish, milk at the local grocery, ("walt whitman , which way does your beard point tonight") yes it's late..candles burn for allen... i listen to records of dear allen...i breath deep....and miss not having such a soul in this world.

--todd mcgovern

To think that I just saw him about a month and a half ago at the Tibet House Benefit concert. I thought he looked a little under the weather at the time. It probably took a lot of effort for him to perform that night. I am so glad that I was able to see him live on a couple of occasions. But I know his spirit lives on and his work is still here to inspire and challenge those who seek it out. He was a controversial figure and thank goodness for that. We need people like him to offer alternative perspectives to counter the group mindthink that overcomes too many people. I feel sad that he is no longer among us, but I know that he is finding new adventures in another place so I will be happy for him. And grateful that we were able to have his presence for a while in our time.

--Rebecca Lewis

To Allen
I grew up under your figure, tall higher than I will ever be, I came into being in the mid 70s longing for the turbulence of the era you called yours, I did the drugs rebelled trying to follow your lead. Later forgetting you I attempted suicide via alcohol and obsessive behavior....Then awakening, the seed you planted grew and now I find myself meditating Budhist practitioner letting go to the experience of Dzogpa-Chenpo.
Thank You

--Jeff Wood

It leapt up from the paper into my face in time honoured style of yours and I yelped out loud in dismay. The cafe turned its head and i said excuse me and went on to read how you had entered the bardo...

I never read your poetry much but I was allways happy to think of you being there and being an example, a glorious possibility in action.

We will all be the poorer. Thankyou for being the great tower of friendship and support for so many and in perticular Bill Burroughs.

Stay cool on the way through, come back soon.

--Alan Bamford

I can't help being reminded of the comment about Christopher Wren, the British architect, in one of the cathedrals he designed:

Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (If you would see his monument, look around)

In many ways, Ginsberg's lasing monument is his influence on the larger culture: the existence of people like Patti (and even the US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who cited Ginsberg's influence on him), the existence of people like us, the audience for the culture he helped shape, etc., etc.

This isn't to discourage any formal memorials, just to point out the significant memorial he already has...

--Bob Ingria

on losing america's heroes

for A.G.

the phone rang
val answered it
told me, "quick...
turn on channel 13"
i switched the channel
and saw your face
heard the newsman say
that you had died
at 70

my eyes filled with tears
that spilled down my cheeks

tears that fell
many years ago
while reading

tears that will
fall again
listening to your voice
seeing your photograph
on the wall
by my desk

tears that will fall
watching for you
on empty night streets

tears that will fall
knowing that america
has lost another hero


thank you
for everything
that you gave
and continue
to give.

--Jason M. Danko

Pierced sky with open bloody hole.
Menstrual with life,
Passing into a realm of sleepdream.
The birds seemlessly still flutter through, unafraid.
They suck vampiricly.
There is enough blood for all.
To nourish the emptiness of the hunger years.
To pour forth from Isis's resevoirs
and to sastisfy the fuck me hard urges of anxious skychildren.
Your shadows have passed my gate, old gorilla of fortune,
With a breathy, dessueuse's howl,
And a mourner's Kaddish.
Yisgadal, veyisgadash, shmey raba.
The gate has opened,
The sky is closing.

Listen children to the rhythms of death,
The lutes, flutes and the doombeks.
Hear how the community soulclaps, and cheermoans.
As they carry the deathbride across her threshold.
You must have looked so pretty, yeah for the Buddha to see.
Judging your future, as he did your infamous glorious past.
How it all goes so quickly,
The snap of the neck,
Like poor Patti's, your queenly helion.
Will you go for another ride on the Ferris Wheel of the living seas?
Or perhaps, you'll just find Bowery in the sky, your fishy headed
stinking, assfucking Nirvana.
All around you, the comfort of stale smoke, hot flesh machine.
Get down with Iggy for your striptease.
You taught all the "Lust for Life."
And the life for lust.
Awash in blood, the parade marches on swimmingly,
After all, weren't you 70 you hairy fuck?
Consumed by the happiest of cancers,
Acquired by the happiest of "getting down,"
I wanted to get down with you, daddy.
It gives me a sense of bad good, damn good, no good fevers,
it chills me hot.
It gives me achy breathy moaning, sleepwalker vernacular to speak my
claim with.
Each day, a new savage matinee of flesh,
In pace requiescat.

The voyage to Mecca,
Is full of potholes, and goddamned traffic.
Be nice to your camel,
Try not to look at his ass with any particular attitude.
Stay on the right side of the road,
Try not to burp, or fart, or offend anyone.
Be conscious,
Be wise.
Travel Light,
Travel Bright.
Free us from the chains of mediocrity,
On your flight.

We have lost our greatest immortal mortal,
Through the mortal portal called death.

Live on sweet speaker,
Keep on keeping on.



Lee Ingram is helping to organize an Allen Ginsberg national observance. The idea is to get people together to kindle the flame, look at how the freedoms that Allen so courageously fought for are still under attack, and celebrate his life and work. There will be readings and a few minutes of silent meditation at each event. Lee would like to find interested people in each community who could help to organize locally, mostly just to designate a place for people to meet and make that info available to the public via community radio, alternate presses, the Internet, and other networking.

The date of the event is Sunday the 13th, 2:00 pm

For more information contact Lee at

If you would like to add your tribute to this page, send it to Fiona.

a patti smith babelogue honors Allen Ginsberg

a patti smith babelogue