HOWL - Ernest Lawrence Thayer Poems

 
 

Poems » ernest lawrence thayer » howl

HOWL
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 machinery 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 tenement 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 skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning 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, and drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol 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 motionless world of Time
in 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 Brooklyn,
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 the submarine light of Bickford's, floated out and sat
through the stale beer afternooon 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 Brooklyn Bridge,

a 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-grindings and migraines of China
under junk-withdrawal 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 grandfather night,

who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kaballa because
the  cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,

who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who
were visionary indian angels,

who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,

who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter
midnight streetlight 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 fireplace
Chicago...

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