So I just saw Rob Epstein’s rendition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.
And Ginsberg died in 1997 at 70 quietly from stomach cancer. Allen will never read again. He will never Howl because it was his howl, and a madman in a mental hospital and a lover and a poet and a drunk and a suicide and a homosexual and a communist and a Buddhist and a teacher and a fucking poet. And what happened to them all.
The poets die one by one. We all die but are there any more. Really? Not me, tears in my eyes and a terror in my heart because I fear God does not exist. Are there any more? And now you know my selfish desire and why I will never understand.
I saw him over twenty years ago in the Czech Republic read Kral Mayal and Kaddish and Howl and I knew nothing then, and creamed my jeans from heat and loneliness and shook his hand and said thank you, sir. And he had such a quiet voice and he sat before the audience of students and squeezed his little harmonium and sang to us in a quiet voice in an auditorium in Olomouc, a secret Communist city with a Physics University and a Medical School and The Mahler Cafe where you can have wonderful sundaes and I wanted to stay because I dreamed of being a Quantum Mechanic. And I had no idea who this quiet little old gay Jewish man was. Ginzberg’s translator sat besides him and boomed in Czech as if His was the Voice of God. Holy holy holy.
Neeli Cheery says of Weiner’s poetry that you need to leave it alone and come back to it again and again and be surprised by It. Maybe more-so for Ginsberg. Always beginning and beginning again desperately wishing we were a bit more creative or less intelligent so we could tell ourselves or lie to ourselves and make the lie true that we could understand.
Today I bought The Complete Works of Whitman and Ginsberg and after I finish Walden I will begin to read them so I can return to Howl in another twenty years maybe. Always beginning and beginning to read and read and read and never die because we just don’t have time to finish the stuff on our bookshelves.
Always beginning to read and read and praying to some nonexistent God, peeking gleefully from atop the nonexistent Tree, that doesn’t exist, at us, who don’t exist either, always beginning and praying that someday I may begin to…