HOWL

For Carl Solomon

                           I

       I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

              madness, starving hysterical naked,

       dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn

              looking for an angry fix,

       angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

              connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-

              ery of night,

       who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat

              up smoking in the supernatural darkness of

              cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities

              contemplating jazz,

       who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and

              saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-

              ment roofs illuminated,

       who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes

              hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy

              among the scholars of war,

       who were expelled from the academies for crazy &

              publishing obscene odes on the windows of the

              skull,

       who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-

              ing their money in wastebaskets and listening

              to the Terror through the wall,

       who got busted in their pubic beards returning through

              Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

       who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in

              Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their

              torsos night after night

       with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-

              cohol and cock and endless balls,

       incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and

              lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of

              Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-

              tionless world of Time between,

       Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery

              dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,

              storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon

              blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree

              vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-

              lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,

       who chained themselves to subways for the endless

              ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine

              until the noise of wheels and children brought

              them down shuddering mouth-wracked and

              battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance

              in the drear light of Zoo,

       who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s

              floated out and sat through the stale beer after

              noon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack

              of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,

       who talked continuously seventy hours from park to

              pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-

              lyn Bridge,

       lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping

              down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills

              off Empire State out of the moon,

       yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts

              and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks

              and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,

       whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days

              and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the

              Synagogue cast on the pavement,

       who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a

              trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic

              City Hall,

       suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-

              ings and migraines of China under junk-with-

              drawal in Newark’s bleak furnished room,

       who wandered around and around at midnight in the

              railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,

              leaving no broken hearts,

       who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing

              through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-

              father night,

       who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-

              athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-

              stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,

       who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-

              ionary indian angels who were visionary indian

              angels,

       who thought they were only mad when Baltimore

              gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,

       who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla-

              homa on the impulse of winter midnight street

              light smalltown rain,

       who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston

              seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the

              brilliant Spaniard to converse about America

              and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship

              to Africa,

       who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving

              behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees

              and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire

              place Chicago,

       who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the

              F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist

              eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom-

              prehensible leaflets,

       who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting

              the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,

       who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union

              Square weeping and undressing while the sirens

              of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed

              down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also

              wailed,

       who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked

              and trembling before the machinery of other

              skeletons,

       who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight

              in policecars for committing no crime but their

              own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,

       who howled on their knees in the subway and were

              dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu-

              scripts,

       who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly

              motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,

       who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,

              the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean

              love,

       who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose

              gardens and the grass of public parks and

              cemeteries scattering their semen freely to

              whomever come who may,

       who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up

              with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath

              when the blond & naked angel came to pierce

              them with a sword,

       who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate

              the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar

              the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb

              and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but

              sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden

              threads of the craftsman’s loom,

       who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of

              beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can-

              dle and fell off the bed, and continued along

              the floor and down the hall and ended fainting

              on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and

              come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,

       who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling

              in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning

              but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun

              rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked

              in the lake,

       who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad

              stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these

              poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy

              to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls

              in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’

              rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with

              gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-

              ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station

              solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,

       who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in

              dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and

              picked themselves up out of basements hung

              over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third

              Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-

              ment offices,

       who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on

              the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the

              East River to open to a room full of steamheat

              and opium,

       who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment

              cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime

              blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall

              be crowned with laurel in oblivion,

       who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested

              the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of

              Bowery,

       who wept at the romance of the streets with their

              pushcarts full of onions and bad music,

       who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the

              bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in

              their lofts,

       who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned

              with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded

              by orange crates of theology,

       who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty

              incantations which in the yellow morning were

              stanzas of gibberish,

       who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht

              & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable

              kingdom,

       who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for

              an egg,

       who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot

              for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks

              fell on their heads every day for the next decade,

       who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-

              fully, gave up and were forced to open antique

              stores where they thought they were growing

              old and cried,

       who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits

              on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse

              & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments

              of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the

              fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-

              ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the

              drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,

       who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-

              pened and walked away unknown and forgotten

              into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley

              ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,

       who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of

              the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-

              saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,

              danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed

              phonograph records of nostalgic European

              1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and

              threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans

              in their ears and the blast of colossal steam

              whistles,

       who barreled down the highways of the past journeying

              to each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude

              watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,

       who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out

              if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had

              a vision to find out Eternity,

       who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who

              came back to Denver & waited in vain, who

              watched over Denver & brooded & loned in

              Denver and finally went away to find out the

              Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,

       who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying

              for each other’s salvation and light and breasts,

              until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,

       who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for

              impossible criminals with golden heads and the

              charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet

              blues to Alcatraz,

       who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky

              Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys

              or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or

              Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the

              daisychain or grave,

       who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp

              notism & were left with their insanity & their

              hands & a hung jury,

       who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism

              and subsequently presented themselves on the

              granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads

              and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-

              stantaneous lobotomy,

       and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin

              Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-

              therapy occupational therapy pingpong &

              amnesia,

       who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic

              pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

       returning years later truly bald except for a wig of

              blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad

              man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the

              East,

       Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid

              halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-

              ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench

              dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-

              mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the

              moon,

       with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book

              flung out of the tenement window, and the last

              door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone

              slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-

              nished room emptied down to the last piece of

              mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted

              on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that

              imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of

              hallucination

       ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and

              now you’re really in the total animal soup of

              time

       and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed

              with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use

              of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-

              ing plane,

       who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space

              through images juxtaposed, and trapped the

              archangel of the soul between 2 visual images

              and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun

              and dash of consciousness together jumping

              with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna

              Deus

       to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human

              prose and stand before you speechless and intel-

              ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-

              fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm

              of thought in his naked and endless head,

       the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,

              yet putting down here what might be left to say

              in time come after death,

       and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in

              the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the

              suffering of America’s naked mind for love into

              an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone

              cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio

       with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered

              out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand

              years.

                           II

       What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open

              their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi-

              nation?

       Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob

              tainable dollars! Children screaming under the

              stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men

              weeping in the parks!

       Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the

              loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy

              judger of men!

       Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the

              crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of

              sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!

              Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun-

              ned governments!

       Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose

              blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers

              are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni-

              bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking

              tomb!

       Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!

              Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long

              streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac-

              tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose

              smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!

       Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch

              whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch

              whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch

              whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!

              Moloch whose name is the Mind!

       Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream

              Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in

              Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!

       Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom

              I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch

              who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!

              Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!

              Light streaming out of the sky!

       Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!

              skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic

              industries! spectral nations! invincible mad

              houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!

       They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-

              ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to

              Heaven which exists and is everywhere about

              us!

       Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!

              gone down the American river!

       Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole

              boatload of sensitive bullshit!

       Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!

              gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De-

              spairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides!

              Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on

              the rocks of Time!

       Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the

              wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!

              They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!

              carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the

              street!

                           III

       Carl Solomon! I’m with you in Rockland

              where you’re madder than I am

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you must feel very strange

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you imitate the shade of my mother

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you laugh at this invisible humor

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where we are great writers on the same dreadful

              typewriter

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where your condition has become serious and

              is reported on the radio

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where the faculties of the skull no longer admit

              the worms of the senses

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you drink the tea of the breasts of the

              spinsters of Utica

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the

              harpies of the Bronx

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re

              losing the game of the actual pingpong of the

              abyss

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul

              is innocent and immortal it should never die

              ungodly in an armed madhouse

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where fifty more shocks will never return your

              soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a

              cross in the void

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you accuse your doctors of insanity and

              plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the

              fascist national Golgotha

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where you will split the heavens of Long Island

              and resurrect your living human Jesus from the

              superhuman tomb

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-

              rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where we hug and kiss the United States under

              our bedsheets the United States that coughs all

              night and won’t let us sleep

       I’m with you in Rockland

              where we wake up electrified out of the coma

              by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the

              roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the

              hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col-

              lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry

              spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is

              here O victory forget your underwear we’re

              free

       I’m with you in Rockland

              in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-

              journey on the highway across America in tears

              to the door of my cottage in the Western night

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