Supermarket in California


“What thoughts I have of 
you tonight, Walt Whitman”
Allen Ginsberg
A Supermarket in California 

“think of Ginsberg’s A Supermarket 
in California, for instance—a revision 
that, come to think of it, gets us past 
the avant-garde/mainstream, or post-
avant/School of Quietude, faultline 
that has troubled our thinking on 
poetry for so long.”—Barrett Watten, 
“Entry 06: Sylvia Plath’s Collage” 


What thoughts I have of you tonight—
Walt Whitman, as I cruise down the aisles 

Under the neon lights with a headache—
Self-consciously thinking of my hungry fatigue 

Shopping for images, cruising the supermarket—
Dreaming of the cute pouty grocery boys!

What peach-fuzz and penis penumbras!—
Old queens shopping at night! Aisles full of fags!  

Queering the avocados, fondling the tomatoes!—
And you, García Lorca, going down on zucchini?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, boyless & lonely—
Poking among the cold meats in the locker 

Eyeing the grocery boys like I’m doing now—
Asking things like: How’s your pork chops, baby?   

“What price is your big banana, cute Angel?”—
As I wander along with other moiling queens 

Followed in my imagination by the store dick—
Tailing me down the open corridors of Safeway 

Such fancy-tasting artichokes, my dear—
Possessing every tender chicken delicacy

Where are we going now, Walt Whitman?—
Which way does our beard point tonight?

I touch your book & dream of your odyssey—
You & Miss Ginsberg here in the supermarket 

We stroll all night through the solitary aisles—
Dreaming of the lost America of love past due

When will it finally arrive, my fellow lonely Poet—
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old teacher?

What America did you have in mind back then—
When lilacs last in your dooryard bloom’d?

And the great star early droop’d down in the—
In the great western sky of the night

As I mourn’d, yet shall mourn with each—
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to bring

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star—
Thinking of him who Charon took away

Now here I am in a CA supermarket—
Lost in aisles full of black water’d Lethe?

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