Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cleaving Antler

Antler as He Appears to Exist
February 19, 2009 9:00 P.M.
—for Antler and Kenneth Rexroth

It’s as if I’m slowly waking up—
Speaking to you, my dear, while everybody
At the party has come and gone.

After all Factory came out in 1980—
And Chicken in 1979 a million years ago.
So tonight I tilt back for awhile thinking
About us being gay bards back then.

I love to fondle your Factory—
Number Thirty Eight is my favorite
City Lights Pocket Series Book!!!

How could anybody see the future—
And know the right questions to ask?
Even now I think—why I’m not dead?

Dead like Rexroth, dead like Ginsberg—
Just go down the List in Boyz Like Us…
Over 200 dead poets in coffins waiting for
The next Halley’s Comet to swish by…

I wonder what it was like that night—
In the Sixth Gallery when Ginsberg read
Howl for the first time in San Francisco…

While REXroth wept for the death—
Of postwar Wobbly Anarchist poetry…
Kerouac lauding the new Beatnik oracle?

Ferlinghetti sends Ginsberg a telegram—
“I greet you at the beginning of a great
career. When do I get the manuscript?”

Just like Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1855—
One hundred years earlier writing to
Walt Whitman about Leaves of Grass…

“I greet you at the beginning of a great
career, which yet must have had a long
foreground somewhere in Brooklyn or
riding streetcars late at night with cute
chicken conductor Peter Doyle or all
those young Union wounded soldier
boyz you preened up for with perfume
and gifts of candy and loving attention
or later on after your simply awful
nervous Beltway breakdown, bathing
and recuperating with your farmboy
lovers down by Timber Creek or later
Camden NJ retirement and wheelchair
Specimen Day nostalgia, your Saratoga
Trunk full of adolescent memorabilia—
how much young America did you have
flowing thru your varicose veins, Walt,
when you finally said goodbye?”

So that now all these years later—
I can’t help but think about Whitman,
Rexroth, Ginsberg and the Beats now—
how Literary Renaissances rush into
each other: San Francisco, Berkeley,
Beatniks, Hippies, Gays… shooting
down the rapids really fast like the
Skagit and Skykomish Rivers with me
Inside the sleek kayak of my gone
Gay Sunshine mind?

STH Boyd McDonald warning me—
To tighten my seatbelt, honey, it was
Going to be a bumpy night for the
Great American Literature Zeitgeist…
Just a brief window of opportunity
For Uranian poets like me to squeeze
My kind of poetry into the skanky
Stacks and bookstores in the Castro…

Yawn, here I am now years later—
Sometimes late at night listening to—
Dead gay poets slithering behind the
Ratty wainscoting here in moody Miss
Havisham’s haunted ghostly mansion
with its crummy tilted wedding cake
full of unrequited love and late night
card games with cute young Pip and
pouty put-upon Estelle so beautiful…

“C’mon, honey,” snarks Miss Havisham,
“Skip corny Whitman’s “barbaric yawps!
All that tacky bourgeois Americana crap.
Tell me about Neil Cassady and Ginsberg,
Blowjobs in gas-station bathrooms and
Making love in empty Denver parking lots,
that’s what Leaves and Howl are all about,
forget all that nineteenth century failed
romanticism crap—all that adhesive love
utopian propaganda about adolescence…
When really America isn’t young and
very democratic at all—but more like
William Burroughs said: “America isn’t
a young land: it’s old & dirty & evil!!!”

“Where’s that in the manuscript?”—
The New Yorker asks, querying Whitman
About a coffee table Leaves of Grass?”

“How can we possibly publish Howl?”—
whines The New York Times, after dishing
Hart Crane and Frank O’Hara so shabbily…

Listen to all the dead critics kvetch—
Ensconced behind the yellowing wallpaper
Along with all the other No Exit creeps.

Miss Havisham’s mansion is cursed—
All of America’s gay literature and poetry
Crammed into this House on Haunted Hill!!!
It takes a neurasthenic raconteur—
A nervous nelly Vincent Price, my dear,
To point out the unctuous Usher artwork.

The lovely postmodern kitsch décor—
The Miss Lonelyhearts pile of letters
The usual Proustian paperback novels…

Look over here what do we have—
It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s Jukebox, honey…
Let’s ask butchy Elizabeth Bishop, hmm?

Now we’ve had lots of poet laureates—
Several dykes and many closet cases…
But when do we get a Doty or Ashbery?

When do we get a gay Poet Laureate—
To grace the stately halls and stacks of
This magnificent Library of Congress?

May I nominate Miss Merrill, my dear?—
Surely it’s better to have a Planchette Queen
Guiding this Ouija Board Ship of State?

The changing light over Sandover—
This lovely Foggy Bottoms twilight zone
Known as the Planet Potomac?

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