A Letter to the Late Allen Ginsberg

Litersf1$allen-ginsberg_s-business-card ca 1966
Around this time, Ginsberg also had what he referred to as his “Blake vision,” an auditory hallucination of William Blake reading his poems “Ah Sunflower,” “The Sick Rose,” and “Little Girl Lost.”

So tell me this one thing,
Old poet, mad saint,
What will it take to make the world strike me with its great magic?

What will it take to hear
William Blake declaiming Sunflower
in Harlem tenement?
Litany of drugs, poetry, masturbation, family history of insanity, criminal friends, jazz bars cosmic gaze smoky poet’s beard?
Is it typewriter, telegram, radio wave death that killed the voice of William Blake?
I process words, spell check, send beat poems by email. But I can type! send telegram! I seek out old radio shows, flat voices, analog tape hiss, all! I stay up all night! I embrace limitations! I cry up camp!
I sleep with many men, urge each one to grow out his beard!
I contemplate marijuana, ayahuasca, beer, peyote!
But alas contemplate as well a family unremittingly sane, professors, doctors, scientists, lawyers, old criminal friends respectable now, work for Boeing, Disney, partners in law firms,
Anyway these days you have to be good or you’ll never afford to retire you’ll have to work till you drop and who wants that?
And it’s all too easy to be good we have jazz bars you can’t even smoke in, we have digital TV, smart drugs, drive by shootings but they’re not somebody’s fault just bad luck, now it’s okay to masturbate everybody masturbates now it’s not even fun anymore, we have internet porn, mandatory capitalism, avant garde paranoia, sophisticated bigots armed with DNA and Right Guard
But we wonder what it’s all for, we didn’t tune in, we can’t drop out, we can’t get out the vote. We want something or other but what?
Only I seem to know what I want & I want what you had Allen Ginsberg
I want William Blake
declaiming Sunflower in my room
not to give answers to cosmic questions
but to show me he still can.

 

Image: “Alan Ginsberg’s business card, c. 1966” [sic], published in James Sederberg, “Allen Ginsberg: Historical Essay” at http://www.foundSF.org. Because this photo was published before 1977 with no notice of copyright, it is believed to be in the public domain due to its non-compliance (I almost wrote “failure to comply” but that would be cynical and I am not cynical) with required formalities.

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