“Sunflower Sutra” by Allen Ginsberg (1955)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49304/sunflower-sutra

AND “Ah! Sun-flower” by William Blake (1794) – the Ongoing Cultural Conversation again

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done. 

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow: 
Arise from their graves and aspire, 
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

From “Wichita Vortex Sutra” by Allen Ginsberg (1966)

I’m an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas
    but not afraid
        to speak my lonesomeness in a car,
        because not only my lonesomeness
            it’s Ours, all over America,
                O tender fellows—
            & spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy
            in the moon 100 years ago or in
                the middle of Kansas now.
It’s not the vast plains mute our mouths
            that fill at midnite with ecstatic language
        when our trembling bodies hold each other
            breast to breast on a mattress—
    Not the empty sky that hides
                the feeling from our faces
    nor our skirts and trousers that conceal
        the bodylove emanating in a glow of beloved skin,
            white smooth abdomen down to the hair
                between our legs,
    It’s not a God that bore us that forbid
        our Being, like a sunny rose
                all red with naked joy
        between our eyes & bellies, yes
All we do is for this frightened thing
        we call Love, want and lack—
    fear that we aren’t the one whose body could be
        beloved of all the brides of Kansas City,
        kissed all over by every boy of Wichita—
    O but how many in their solitude weep aloud like me—
        On the bridge over Republican River
            almost in tears to know
                how to speak the right language—
        on the frosty broad road
            uphill between highway embankments
        I search for the language
                that is also yours—
        almost all our language has been taxed by war.
Radio antennae high tension
    wires ranging from Junction City across the plains—
    highway cloverleaf sunk in a vast meadow
        lanes curving past Abilene
            to Denver filled with old
                heroes of love—
        to Wichita where McClure’s mind
            burst into animal beauty
            drunk, getting laid in a car
                in a neon misted street
                    15 years ago—
    to Independence where the old man’s still alive
    who loosed the bomb that’s slaved all human consciousness
        and made the body universe a place of fear—
Now, speeding along the empty plain,
        no giant demon machine
            visible on the horizon
    but tiny human trees and wooden houses at the sky’s edge
        I claim my birthright!
            reborn forever as long as Man
                in Kansas or other universe—Joy
        reborn after the vast sadness of the War Gods!
A lone man talking to myself, no house in the brown vastness to hear
        imagining that throng of Selves
            that make this nation one body of Prophecy
                languaged by Declaration as Pursuit of
                    Happiness!
I call all Powers of imagination
    to my side in this auto to make Prophecy,
                    all Lords
        of human kingdoms to come
Shambu Bharti Baba naked covered with ash
        Khaki Baba fat-bellied mad with the dogs
Dehorahava Baba who moans Oh how wounded, How wounded
    Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur who commands
                    give up your desire
Satyananda who raises two thumbs in tranquility
    Kali Pada Guha Roy whose yoga drops before the void
            Shivananda who touches the breast and says OM
Srimata Krishnaji of Brindaban who says take for your guru
    William Blake the invisible father of English visions
    Sri Ramakrishna master of ecstasy eyes
        half closed who only cries for his mother
Chitanya arms upraised singing & dancing his own praise
    merciful Chango judging our bodies
        Durga-Ma covered with blood
            destroyer of battlefield illusions
        million faced Tathagata gone past suffering
    Preserver Harekrishna returning in the age of pain
Sacred Heart my Christ acceptable
        Allah the compassionate one
                Jaweh Righteous One
            all Knowledge-Princes of Earth-man, all
    ancient Seraphim of heavenly Desire, Devas, yogis
            & holymen I chant to—
                Come to my lone presence
                    into this Vortex named Kansas,
I lift my voice aloud,
    make Mantra of American language now,
            I here declare the end of the War!
                Ancient days’ Illusion!—
        and pronounce words beginning my own millennium.
Let the States tremble,
    let the nation weep,
        let Congress legislate its own delight,
            let the President execute his own desire—
this Act done by my own voice,
                nameless Mystery—
published to my own senses,
        blissfully received by my own form
    approved with pleasure by my sensations
        manifestation of my very thought
        accomplished in my own imagination
            all realms within my consciousness fulfilled
    60 miles from Wichita
                near El Dorado,
                    The Golden One,
in chill earthly mist
    houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward
                        in every direction
one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord—
    Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower
            where Florence is
                    set on a hill,
            stop for tea & gas

“Savage/Love” by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin

First Moment

The first moment
I saw you in the Post Office
You saw me
And I didn’t know.

The first moment
I saw you
I knew I could love you
If you could love me

You had sort of a flavor
The way you looked
And you looked at me
And I didn’t know if you saw me
And there wasn’t any question to ask

I was standing with some papers
I started shuffling the papers
But I didn’t know what order to put them in

But I figured I wanted to do it in such a way
That it looked like I had some purpose

But I really just wanted to look at your eyes all the time

And you said
Look at me with your eyes
Look at me with your eyes

In that first moment
Your face burned into my dream
And right away I had this feeling
Maybe you’re lost
Until now

Maybe I’m lost
Until now

And I thought
Maybe I’m just making this up

But your eyes
Looked like they were saying
Look at me more

I would shuffle the papers
Look at you
My breathing changed

Then I felt something dissolve
I felt there might be a danger
That anything could happen in the next moment
Maybe you would turn away from me

Or you could say
Let’s go together
Forever

Listening Faces

When we sat across from each other
In the place where we met
You talked about your days by the waterface listensYou talked about yourself as a childface listensWhen we were lying next to each other
You told me your fear of the night
Of every nightface listensYou imagined moving to your ideal countryface listensYou told me secrets about people in your life
Strangersface listensYou showed me their picturesfaceYou played me your favorite music
I couldn’t hear the music in it

Tangled Up

When we’re tangled up in love
Is it me you’re whispering to
Or some other

When we’re tangled up in sleep
It is my leg you feel your legs against
Or is it Paul Newman’s leg

When I move my eyes like this
Is it causing you to think of Marlon Brando

When we’re tangled up in meeting other people
Is it me you’re introducing
Or is it Warren Beatty

When I stand with my body facing in one direction
And my head in the other
Do you think of Mick Jagger

If you could only give me a few clues
I could invent the one you’d have me be

Babble (I)

I
Uh
I wanna’ show
Um
Some thing
SSSomething
That uh
Some
Something tender
That
Comes from you
Uh
I Can’t
My words
Won’t
Find
I wanna’
Bring something out
That
Some
But
Uh
It doesn’t fit this time

Terms of Endearment

What can I call you
Can I call you “Honey”
Or “Sweetie Pie”

Can I call you “My Treasure”
Or “Precious One”

Or can I call you “Babe”
Or maybe I could call you “Darling”
Can I call you “Darling”

I heard someone else call someone “Angel” once
Can I try “Angel”

Can I call you “Sweetheart”
Or “Sugar”

Or maybe I could call you “Love”
Just “Love”

Killing

It was in one moment
When we looked
When we saw each other
That I killed you

I saw you lying there
Unmourned

You didn’t know
I didn’t say I saw you dead

I saw you thinking of something else
You couldn’t see
The thing I’d done to you

How I Look to You

When I sit like this
Do you see me brave

Do I make a mystery to you
When I put on a gaze

When I stretch my arms like this
Do you see me sensual

When I look releaxed
Do you believe me

When I’m acting interested in your words
Do you believe I’m completely interested

Which presentation of myself
Would make you want to touch
What would make you cross the border

Beggar

Could you give me a small part of yourself
I’m only asking for the tiniest part
Just enough to get me from here to there

Could you give me something
Anything at all
I’ll accept whatever it is

Could you just put your hand on my head
Could you brush against my arm
Could you just come near enough
So I could feel as though you might be able to hold me

Could you touch me with your voice
Blow your breath in my direction

Is it all right if I look straight into your face

Could I just walk behind you for a little while
Would you let me follow you at a distance

If I had anything of value I’d gladly give it to you
If there’s anything of me you want just take it

But don’t think I’m this way with everybody
I almost never come to this
In fact usually it’s the other way around

There’s lots of people
Who would love to even have a conversation with me
Who even ask me if they can walk behind me

So don’t get any ideas that I’m completely alone
Because I’m not

In fact you’re the one who looks like you could use a little company

Where do you get off thinking you have anything to give me anyway

I have everything I need
And what I don’t have I know where to get it
Any time I want

In the middle of the night
In the middle of the afternoon
Five o’clock in the morning

In fact I’m wasting my time right now
Just talking to youHums
A capella, melody line only
no words

“I’m in the mood for love”

Haunted

I’m haunted by your scent
When I’m talking to someone else

I’m haunted by your eyes
In the middle of brushing my teeth

I’m haunted by your hair
By your skin
When you’re not around

Are you visiting me

Am I dreaming you up

Savage

YOU
Who makes me believe that we’re lovers
YOU
Who lets me pretend
YOU
Who reminds me of myself
YOU
Who controls me
YOU
My accomplice
YOU
Who tells me to lie
YOU
Who is acting as though we’re still in the first moment
YOU
Who makes me believe that we’re lovers
Forever in love

Acting

Now we’re acting the partners in love
Now we’re acting the estrangement
Now we’re acting the reconciliation
Now we’re acting that the reconciliation was a success
Now we’re acting that our love has been deepened by the crises
Now we’re acting that we’re both in endless harmony
Now we’re acting that one of us has been injured
But we’re not saying which one
Now one of us is acting the pain of premonition
Now we are acting the leaving
Now I see you in anguish
Now I watch you leaving
Now I feel nothingSings:

“The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone
I can see it in your eyes
I can hear it in your sighs
Feel your touch and realize
The thrill is gone”

Absence

You who are not here
You who are missing in my body
Holes in my body
Places like holes
Like bullets made
Patches of agony
Swimming
From my feet
To my hands

You who are gone
Missing from the place you lived in me
Instead of blood
Hallow veins
The groin is locked
You
The missing part of me
You
That disappeared

The Hunt

I’ve lost 15 pounds for you
I’ve dyed my hair brown for you
I’ve designed a special smile for you
But I haven’t met you yet

I’ve bought a flashy shirt for you
I’ve plucked my eyebrows out for you
I’ve covered myself in Musk Oil for you
I’m still hunting around for you

I’ve changed my walk for you
I’ve even changed my talk for you
I’ve changed my entire point of view for you
I hope we’ll find each other soon

Killing

It was in a moment we were together
The murder took place
Without any weapon
It took place
Between two moments
In no time

It was in a moment
Between two thoughts
When the murder took place
Without any weapons

I wasn’t sure which one of us was killed

Watching the Sleeping Lover

I wake up
Only a little ways
Out of sleep

You look like my child
Breathe
Helpless sleeper
Frightened of your dreams
Separation of sleep

I breathe with you
Breathe the same way
See how it is to be you
Sleeping

I feel like a detective
Spying
Your sleeping body

I’m not very far from sleep
Your dream changes
Your lips move

Talking to it
In words I’ve never heard

Then comes a longing
That I don’t understand
Because it feels like it’s towards you
But here you are
So I don’t understand
What this longing’s for

I embrace you in sleep
My arm moves with your breathing
Your breath makes my arm rise and fall

For one moment I think of the killing
Still
Frozen

I’m confused by the yearning
I want to have your dreams inside me
I want to strangle your dreams
Inside me

As the light comes through
And the night is turning into day
I want to know I’ll die before you
I want to know I’ll die before
We aren’t lovers anymore

Salvation

Now that I’m with you I’m saved
From all grief

Now that I’m with you I’m saved
From being in parts

Now that I’m with you I’m saved
From hoping for anything else

Now that I’m with you I’m saved
From all other wanting

Babble (2)

I
Can’t
Uh
What
I want
What
The
The thing of it is
I
Some
Kind
Some kind of
Something
Won’t
Come
Out
The
Way
I
Uh
Nothing
Seems
To
Uh
Fit
The
Expression
That
I
Uh
Um
Want
Won’t
Uh
Come

Hoax

Even though you see it’s a hoax
We continue as though it isn’t

Even though we’re duped
We agree to continue

Opening

Sometimes I would want to reach
My arm would start
Something in my arm would start

Sometimes I would almost reach
Something near my neck would move
And then come back

I wanted something on my face to show
Some sign
Unlock my face
Instead I lock my arms

The head would nod
While you spoke
I wasn’t sure about the head
Wasn’t sure what it was saying
While I listened
Wasn’t sure what you saw it saying
Agreeing or denying

I wanted my mouth to move
To carry something across
Some sign
One eye was going with it

Is this the face that shows me

It was a moment I wanted to be strong
Through the chest
It fell
You saw it falling
I went on as though you didn’t
I brought it back

I was wanting to be clear through the hands
While the voice kept talking
I held my face together
My mouth on my hand
Then it dropped
My hands held each other

All the time you saw me

My whole body began to shudder
Everything began to shudder
Nothing would hold still

You tried to show me you didn’t see me shaking

You took my hand away from me
And everything stopped
From my fingers I returned
You
You
You
You
repeats(Light fades to black)

-END-

Excerpts from “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot (1922)

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

(…)

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses
                                      If there were water
   And no rock
   If there were rock
   And also water
   And water
   A spring
   A pool among the rock
   If there were the sound of water only
   Not the cicada
   And dry grass singing
   But sound of water over a rock
   Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
   Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
   But there is no water

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

“The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats (1920)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

“The Moon in Lleyn”: a poem by R.S. Thomas (1913-2000)

The last quarter of the moon

of Jesus gives way

to the dark; the serpent

digests the egg. Here

on my knees in this stone

church, that is full only

of the silent congregation

of shadows and the sea’s

sound, it is easy to believe

Yeats was right. Just as though

choirs had not sung, shells

have swallowed them; the tide laps

at the Bible; the bell fetches

no people to the brittle miracle

of bread. The sand is waiting

for the running back of the grains

in the wall into its blond

glass. Religion is over, and

what will emerge from the body

of the new moon, no one

can say.

But a voice sounds

in my ear. Why so fast,

mortal? These very seas

are baptized. The parish

has a saint’s name time cannot

unfrock. In cities that

have outgrown their promise people

are becoming pilgrims

again, if not to this place,

then to the recreation of it

in their own spirits. You must remain

kneeling. Even as this moon

making its way through the earth’s

cumbersome shadow, prayer, too,

has its phases.

J. Edgar Hoover by Ai (excerpt)

I’m the man behind the man

behind the man

and I have got my hands

in everybody’s pockets.

I know who’s been sticking his plug

in Marylin Monroe’s socket.

I have files on everyone who counts,

yet they would amount to nothing,

if I did not have the will to use them.

They call me a cruel sonofabitch

just to aggravate me,

but my strength is truth.

I have the proof

of every kind of infidelity

and that makes me the one free man

in a country of prisoners

off lust, greed, hatred, need

greater than the fear of reprisal,

all the recognized sins

and all those unrecognizable,

except to me and God. Maybe God.

Sometimes my whole body aches

and I lie down on the floor,

just staring at the ceiling,

until I am feeling in control again,

my old confidence surging back

through me like electricity

and I get up, Frankenstein,

revived by the weakness of others

and as unstoppable as a handful of pills

that could kill you on a night like this,

like the night when Marylin kissed it all goodbye.

They all wanted me

to take the A train to anonymity,

those who would seduce their own mothers,

after an audience with the Pope.

The Holy Joke I call him.

I’d like to get a tape, or two,

of that crew in Rome.

A two-way mirror

somewhere in the Vatican, the camera rolling,

while some Cardinal is jerking off

over a silver bowl.

But I digress.

Now Lyndon Johnson and a negress,

that is delicious,

something best served on a platter.

Save until after the elections

when it really matters.

I’m so scattered lately.

I feel like shattering all my Waterford crystal.

Ask me anything you want, but don’t touch me.

I keep my pistol loaded.

Don’t say I told you. Do.

I want the lowdown sonsofbitches

who betray me to know

I’m on to them like a fly on shit.

I will not rest,

Until spit in their mouths

and piss on their faces. The fools.

J. Edgar Hoover runs this country.

J. Edgar Hoover rules.

“Clara (Benito’s Dream)” by Scott Walker (lyrics)

From The Drift (2006)

On 28 April 1945 Benito Mussolini was taken for execution by members of the commitee of National Liberation for Nothern Italy. Claretta Petacci insisted on dying with him. They were shot, the bodies piled into a truck and taken to the Piazalle Loreto in Milan to be strung up by the heels side by side, their heads about six feet from the ground. They were mocked, vilified and riddled with bullets by the crowd that had gathered.

Birds


Birds


This is not a cornhusk doll
Dipped in blood in the moonlight
Like what happen in America


This is us
Our eyesides snagged
Dipped in mob in the daylight
Like what happen in America


The breasts are still heavy
The legs long and straight
The upper lip remains short
The teeth are too small
The eyeside is green
The hair long and black
Still coming through
Still coming through


She knows this room
She can navigate it in the dark
She entered the Palazzo at night by a side door
To ascend to a lift in the upper floor
She lies on the bed
Looking up not yet seeing
The signs of the zodiac painted in gold
On the blue vaulted ceiling
His enormous eyes as he arrives
Coming nearer in the surrounding darkness
His strange beliefs about the moon
Its influence upon men of affairs
The danger of its cold light on your face
While you were sleeping
She’ll eclipse it with her head
Stroke him ‘til he sleeps
Until he has nothing to do among men of affairs


Sometime before dawn
Her bare feet cross the floor
She gazes from the window
At the fountain in the courtyard


“Sometimes I feel like a swallow
A swallow which by some mistake
Has gotten into an attic
And knocks its head against the walls in terror”


This is not a rabbit skinned
With a body of silver
Like what happen in America


This is not a terrapin
With its shell torn away
Like what happen in America


The breasts are still heavy
The legs long and straight
The upper lip remains short
The teeth are too small
The eyeside is green
The hair long and black
Still coming through
Still coming through
The mood soon changed
In the clear morning air
A man came up towards the body
And poked it with a stick
It rocked swiftly 
And twisted around at the end of the rope


Finer than a hair from every side
Finer than a hair


Birds.


Birds.


This is just a cornhusk doll
Dipped in blood in the moonlight
This is just a cornhusk doll


This morning in my room
A little swallow was trapped
It flew around desperately
Until it fell exhausted on my bed
I picked it up
So as not to frighten it
I opened the window
Then I opened my hand