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Gregory Corso
(New York 1930 - Minneapolis 2001)

Bomb
I Am 25
Birthplace Revisited
The American Way

Last Night I Drove a Car
Destiny
The Mad Yak
Marriage
I Held a Shelley Manuscript
Poets Hitchiking on the Highway
Spirit
The Whole Mess... Almost
Direction Sign in London Zoo
Friend
Humanity

Three
Elegiac Feelings American


THE INTERVIEW (1982)
VARIATIONS ON A GENERATION (1959)

Woodstock Journal A Tribute to Gregory Corso

http://gcorso.clifo.unibo.it/CorsoG/fotografie/greg.gif
http://www.citylights.com/beat/CLgc.html
http://www.jackmagazine.com/issue2/corso.html

Bomb

Budger of history Brake of time You Bomb
Toy of universe Grandest of all snatched sky I cannot hate you
Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt the jawbone of an ass
The bumpy club of One Million B.C. the mace the flail the axe
Catapult Da Vinci tomahawk Cochise flintlock Kidd dagger Rathbone
Ah and the sad desparate gun of Verlaine Pushkin Dillinger Bogart
And hath not St. Michael a burning sword St. George a lance David a sling
Bomb you are as cruel as man makes you and you're no crueller than cancer
All Man hates you they'd rather die by car-crash lightning drowning
Falling off a roof electric-chair heart-attack old age old age O Bomb
They'd rather die by anything but you Death's finger is free-lance
Not up to man whether you boom or not Death has long since distributed its
categorical blue I sing thee Bomb Death's extravagance Death's jubilee
Gem of Death's supremest blue The flyer will crash his death will differ
with the climbor who'll fall to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork
Some die by swamp some by sea and some by the bushy-haired man in the night
O there are deaths like witches of Arc Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff
No-feeling deaths like birth-death sadless deaths like old pain Bowery
Abandoned deaths like Capital Punishment stately deaths like senators
And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx girls on Vogue covers my own
I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine
Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope
a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter
Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend
Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs
Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags
Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail
Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train
The smiling Schenley poster will always smile
Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath
Turtles exploding over Istanbul
The jaguar's flying foot
soon to sink in arctic snow
Penguins plunged against the Sphinx
The top of the Empire state
arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily
Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens
St. Sophia peeling over Sudan
O athletic Death Sportive Bomb
the temples of ancient times
their grand ruin ceased
Electrons Protons Neutrons
gathering Hersperean hair
walking the dolorous gulf of Arcady
joining marble helmsmen
entering the final ampitheater
with a hymnody feeling of all Troys
heralding cypressean torches
racing plumes and banners
and yet knowing Homer with a step of grace
Lo the visiting team of Present
the home team of Past
Lyre and tube together joined
Hark the hotdog soda olive grape
gala galaxy robed and uniformed
commissary O the happy stands
Ethereal root and cheer and boo
The billioned all-time attendance
The Zeusian pandemonium
Hermes racing Owens
The Spitball of Buddha
Christ striking out
Luther stealing third
Planeterium Death Hosannah Bomb
Gush the final rose O Spring Bomb
Come with thy gown of dynamite green
unmenace Nature's inviolate eye
Before you the wimpled Past
behind you the hallooing Future O Bomb
Bound in the grassy clarion air
like the fox of the tally-ho
thy field the universe thy hedge the geo
Leap Bomb bound Bomb frolic zig and zag
The stars a swarm of bees in thy binging bag
Stick angels on your jubilee feet
wheels of rainlight on your bunky seat
You are due and behold you are due
and the heavens are with you
hosanna incalescent glorious liaison
BOMB O havoc antiphony molten cleft BOOM
Bomb mark infinity a sudden furnace
spread thy multitudinous encompassed Sweep
set forth awful agenda
Carrion stars charnel planets carcass elements
Corpse the universe tee-hee finger-in-the-mouth hop
over its long long dead Nor
From thy nimbled matted spastic eye
exhaust deluges of celestial ghouls
From thy appellational womb
spew birth-gusts of of great worms
Rip open your belly Bomb
from your belly outflock vulturic salutations
Battle forth your spangled hyena finger stumps
along the brink of Paradise
O Bomb O final Pied Piper
both sun and firefly behind your shock waltz
God abandoned mock-nude
beneath His thin false-talc's apocalypse
He cannot hear thy flute's
happy-the-day profanations
He is spilled deaf into the Silencer's warty ear
His Kingdom an eternity of crude wax
Clogged clarions untrumpet Him
Sealed angels unsing Him
A thunderless God A dead God
O Bomb thy BOOM His tomb
That I lean forward on a desk of science
an astrologer dabbling in dragon prose
half-smart about wars bombs especially bombs
That I am unable to hate what is necessary to love
That I can't exist in a world that consents
a child in a park a man dying in an electric-chair
That I am able to laugh at all things
all that I know and do not know thus to conceal my pain
That I say I am a poet and therefore love all man
knowing my words to be the acquainted prophecy of all men
and my unwords no less an acquaintanceship
That I am manifold
a man pursuing the big lies of gold
or a poet roaming in bright ashes
or that which I imagine myself to be
a shark-toothed sleep a man-eater of dreams
I need not then be all-smart about bombs
Happily so for if I felt bombs were caterpillars
I'd doubt not they'd become butterflies
There is a hell for bombs
They're there I see them there
They sit in bits and sing songs
mostly German songs
And two very long American songs
and they wish there were more songs
especially Russian and Chinese songs
and some more very long American songs
Poor little Bomb that'll never be
an Eskimo song I love thee
I want to put a lollipop
in thy furcal mouth
a wig of Goldilocks on thy baldy bean
and have you skip with me Hansel and Gretel
along the Hollywoodian screen
O Bomb in which all lovely things
moral and physical anxiously participate
O fairylike plucked from the
grandest universe tree
O piece of heaven which gives
both mountain and anthill a sun
I am standing before your fantastic lily door
I bring you Midgardian roses Arcadian musk
Reputed cosmetics from the girls of heaven
Welcome me fear not thy opened door
nor thy cold ghost's grey memory
nor the pimps of indefinite weather
their cruel terrestial thaw
Oppenheimer is seated
in the dark pocket of Light
Fermi is dry in Death's Mozambique
Einstein his mythmouth
a barnacled wreath on the moon-squid's head
Let me in Bomb rise from that pregnant-rat corner
nor fear the raised-broom nations of the world
O Bomb I love you
I want to kiss your clank eat your boom
You are a paean an acme of scream
a lyric hat of Mister Thunder
O resound thy tanky knees
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM
BOOM ye skies and BOOM ye suns
BOOM BOOM ye moons ye stars BOOM
nights ye BOOM ye days ye BOOM
BOOM BOOM ye winds ye clouds ye rains
Go BANG ye lakes ye oceans BING
Barracuda BOOM and cougar BOOM
Ubangi BOOM orangutang
BING BANG BONG BOOM bee bear baboon
ye BANG ye BONG ye BING
the tail the fin the wing
Yes Yes into our midst a bomb will fall
Flowers will leap in joy their roots aching
Fields will kneel proud beneath the halleluyahs of the wind
Pinkbombs will blossom Elkbombs will perk their ears
Ah many a bomb that day will awe the bird a gentle look
Yet not enough to say a bomb will fall
or even contend celestial fire goes out
Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb
that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born
magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine all beautiful
and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires
fierce with moustaches of gold

 


I Am 25

With a love a madness for Shelley
Chatterton Rimbaud
and the needy-yap of my youth
has gone from ear to ear:
I HATE OLD POETMEN!
Especially old poetmen who retract
who consult other old poetmen
who speak their youth in whispers,
saying:--I did those then
but that was then
that was then--
O I would quiet old men
say to them:--I am your friend
what you once were, thru me
you'll be again--
Then at night in the confidence of their homes
rip out their apology-tongues
and steal their poems.

 

Birthplace Revisited
(from Gasoline)

I stand in the dark light in the dark street
and look up at my window, I was born there.
The lights are on; other people are moving about.
I am with raincoat; cigarette in mouth,
hat over eye, hand on gat.
I cross the street and enter the building.
The garbage cans haven't stopped smelling.
I walk up the first flight; Dirty Ears
aims a knife at me...
I pump him full of lost watches.

 

The American Way

1
I am a great American
I am almost nationalistic about it!
I love America like a madness!
But I am afraid to return to America
I'm even afraid to go into the American Express—


2
They are frankensteining Christ in America
in their Sunday campaigns
They are putting the fear of Christ in America
under their tents in their Sunday campaigns
They are driving old ladies mad with Christ in America
They are televising the gift of healing and the fear of hell
in America under their tents in their Sunday
campaigns
They are leaving their tents and are bringing their Christ
to the stadiums of America in their Sunday
campaigns
They are asking for a full house an all get out
for their Christ in the stadiums of America
They are getting them in their Sunday and Saturday
campaigns
They are asking them to come forward and fall on their
knees
because they are all guilty and they are coming
forward
in guilt and are falling on their knees weeping their
guilt
begging to be saved O Lord O Lord in their Monday
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
and Sunday campaigns

3
It is a time in which no man is extremely wondrous
It is a time in which rock stupidity
outsteps the 5th Column as the sole enemy in America
It is a time in which ignorance is a good Ameri-cun
ignorance is excused only where it is so
it is not so in America
Man is not guilty Christ is not to be feared
I am telling you the American Way is a hideous monster
eating Christ making Him into Oreos and Dr. Pepper
the sacrament of its foul mouth
I am telling you the devil is impersonating Christ in America
America's educators & preachers are the mental-dictators
of false intelligence they will not allow America
to be smart
they will only allow death to make America smart
Educators & communicators are the lackeys of the
American Way
They enslave the minds of the young
and the young are willing slaves (but not for long)
because who is to doubt the American Way
is not the way?

The duty of these educators is no different
than the duty of a factory foreman
Replica production make all the young think alike
dress alike believe alike do alike
Togetherness this is the American Way
The few great educators in America are weak & helpless
They abide and so uphold the American Way
Wars have seen such men they who despised things about them
but did nothing and they are the most dangerous
Dangerous because their intelligence is not denied
and so give faith to the young
who rightfully believe in their intelligence
Smoke this cigarette doctors smoke this cigarette
and doctors know
Educators know but they dare not speak their know
The victory that is man is made sad in this fix
Youth can only know the victory of being born
all else is stemmed until death be the final victory
and a merciful one at that
If America falls it will be the blame of its educators
preachers communicators alike
America today is America's greatest threat
We are old when we are young
America is always new the world is always new
The meaning of the world is birth not death
Growth gone in the wrong direction
The true direction grows ever young
In this direction what grows grows old
A strange mistake a strange and sad mistake
for it has grown into an old thing
while all else around it is new
Rockets will not make it any younger—
And what made America decide to grow?
I do not know I can only hold it to the strangeness in man
And America has grown into the American Way—
To be young is to be ever purposeful limitless
To grow is to know limit purposelessness
Each age is a new age
How outrageous it is that something old and sad
from the pre-age incorporates each new age—
Do I say the Declaration of Independence is old?
Yes I say what was good for 1789 is not good for 1960
It was right and new to say all men were created equal
because it was a light then
But today it is tragic to say it
today it should be fact—
Man has been on earth a long time
One would think with his mania for growth
he would, by now, have outgrown such things as
constitutions manifestos codes commandments
that he could well live in the world without them
and know instinctively how to live and be
—for what is being but the facility to love?

Was not that the true goal of growth, love?
Was not that Christ?
But man is strange and grows where he will
and chalks it all up to Fate whatever be—
America rings with such strangeness
It has grown into something strange and
the American is good example of this mad growth
The boy man big baby meat
as though the womb were turned backwards
giving birth to an old man
The victory that is man does not allow man
to top off his empirical achievement with death
The Aztecs did it by yanking out young hearts
at the height of their power
The Americans are doing it by feeding their young to the
Way
For it was not the Spaniard who killed the Aztec
but the Aztec who killed the Aztec
Rome is proof Greece is proof all history is proof
Victory does not allow degeneracy
It will not be the Communists will kill America
no but America itself—
The American Way that sad mad process
is not run by any one man or organization
It is a monster born of itself existing of its self
The men who are employed by this monster
are employed unknowingly
They reside in the higher echelons of intelligence
They are the educators the psychiatrists the ministers
the writers the politicians the communicators
the rich the entertainment world
And some follow and sing the Way because they sincerely
believe it to be good
And some believe it holy and become minutemen in it
Some are in it simply to be in
And most are in it for gold
They do not see the Way as monster
They see it as the "Good Life"
What is the Way?
The Way was born out of the American Dream a
nightmare—
The state of Americans today compared to the Americans
of the 18th century proves the nightmare—
Not Franklin not Jefferson who speaks for America today
but strange red-necked men of industry
and the goofs of show business
Bizarre! Frightening! The Mickey Mouse sits on the throne
and Hollywood has a vast supply—
Could grammar school youth seriously look upon
a picture of George Washington and "Herman Borst"
the famous night club comedian together at Valley
Forge?
Old old and decadent gone the dignity
the American sun seems headed for the grave
O that youth might raise it anewl
The future depends solely on the young
The future is the property of the young
What the young know the future will know
What they are and do the future will be and do
What has been done must not be done again
Will the American Way allow this?
No.
I see in every American Express
and in every army center in Europe
I see the same face the same sound of voice
the same clothes the same walk
I see mothers & fathers no
difference among them
Replicas
They not only speak and walk and think alike
they have the same facel
What did this monstrous thing?
What regiments a people so?

How strange is nature's play on America
Surely were Lincoln alive today
he could never be voted President not with his
looks—
Indeed Americans are babies all in the embrace
of Mama Way
Did not Ike, when he visited the American Embassy in
Paris a year ago, say to the staff—"Everything is fine, just drink
Coca Cola, and everything will be all right."
This is true, and is on record
Did not American advertising call for TOGETHERNESS?
not orgiasticly like today's call
nor as means to stem violence
This is true, and is on record.
Are not the army centers in Europe ghettos?
They are, and O how sad how lost!
The PX newsstands are filled with comic books
The army movies are always Doris Day
What makes a people huddle so?
Why can't they be universal?
Who has smelled them so?
This is serious! I do not mock or hate this
I can only sense some mad vast conspiracy!
Helplessness is all it is!
They are caught caught in the Way—
And those who seek to get out of the Way
can not
The Beats are good example of this
They forsake the Way's habits
and acquire for themselves their own habits
And they become as distinct and regimented and lost
as the main flow
because the Way has many outlets
like a snake of many tentacles—
There is no getting out of the Way
The only way out is the death of the Way
And what will kill the Way but a new consciousness
Something great and new and wonderful must happen
to free man from this beast
It is a beast we can not see or even understand
For it be the condition of our minds
God how close to science fiction it all seemsl
As if some power from another planet
incorporated itself in the minds of us all
It could well bel
For as I live I swear America does not seem like America
to me

Americans are a great people
I ask for some great and wondrous event
that will free them from the Way
and make them a glorious purposeful people once
again
I do not know if that event is due deserved
or even possible
I can only hold that man is the victory of life
And I hold firm to American man

I see standing on the skin of the Way
America to be as proud and victorious as St.
Michael on the neck of the fallen Lucifer—

 

Last Night I Drove a Car

Last night I drove a car
not knowing how to drive
not owning a car
I drove and knocked down
people I loved
...went 120 through one town.

I stopped at Hedgeville
and slept in the back seat
...excited about my new life.

 

Destiny

They deliver the edicts of God
without delay
And are exempt from apprehension
from detention
And with their God-given
Petasus, Caduceus, and Talaria
ferry like bolts of lightning
unhindered between the tribunals
of Space and Time

The Messenger-Spirit
in human flesh
is assigned a dependable,
self-reliant, versatile,
thoroughly poet existence
upon its sojourn in life

It does not knock
or ring the bell
or telephone
When the Messenger-Spirit
comes to your door
though locked
It'll enter like an electric midwife
and deliver the message

There is no tell
throughout the ages
that a Messenger-Spirit
ever stumbled into darkness

 

The Mad Yak

I am watching them churn the last milk they'll ever get from me.
They are waiting for me to die;
They want to make buttons out of my bones.
Where are my sisters and brothers?
That tall monk there, loading my uncle, he has a new cap.
And that idiot student of his -- I never saw that muffler before.
Poor uncle, he lets them load him.
How sad he is, how tired!
I wonder what they'll do with his bones?
And that beautiful tail!
How many shoelaces will they make of that!

 

Marriage

Should I get married? Should I be Good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustaus hood?
Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries
tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
and she going just so far and I understanding why
not getting angry saying You must feel! It's beautiful to feel!
Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky--

When she introduces me to her parents
back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
should I sit knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
and not ask Where's the bathroom?
How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Flash Gordon soap--
O how terrible it must be for a young man
seated before a family and the family thinking
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?
Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
Say All right get married, we're losing a daughter
but we're gaining a son--
And should I then ask Where's the bathroom?

O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
just waiting to get at the drinks and food--
And the priest! He looking at me if I masturbated
asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
She's all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on--

then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
All streaming into cozy hotels
All going to do the same thing tonight
The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
The lobby zombies they knowing what
The whistling elevator man he knowing
The winking bellboy knowing
Everybody knowing! I'd be almost inclined not to do anything!
Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
running rampant into those almost climatic suites
yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
O I'd live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
I'd sit there the Mad Honeymooner devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy a saint of divorce--

But I should get married I should be good
How nice it'd be to come home to her
and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
aproned young and lovely wanting by baby
and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
God what a husband I'd make! Yes, I should get married!
So much to do! like sneaking into Mr Jones' house late at night
and cover his golf clubs with 1920 Norwegian books
Like hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the lawnmower
like pasting Tannu Tuva postage stamps all over the picket fence
like when Mrs Kindhead comes to collect for the Community Chest
grab her and tell her There are unfavorable omens in the sky!
And when the mayor comes to get my vote tell him
When are you going to stop people killing whales!
And when the milkman comes leave him a note in the bottle
Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust--

Yet if I should get married and it's Connecticut and snow
and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
knowledged with responsibility not twig-smear not Roman coin soup--
O what would that be like!
Surely I'd give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
For a rattle bag of broken Bach records
Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon

No, I doubt I'd be that kind of father
not rural not snow no quiet window
but hot smelly New York City
seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
And five nose running brats in love with Batman
And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
like those hag masses of the 18th century
all wanting to come in and watch TV
The landlord wants his rent
Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
Impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking--
No! I should not get married and I should never get married!
But--imagine if I were to marry a beautiful sophisticated woman
tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
holding a cigarette holder in one hand and highball in the other
and we lived high up a penthouse with a huge window
from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
No I can't imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream--

O but what about love? I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
it's just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes--
I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
And there maybe a girl now but she's already married
And I don't like men and--
but there's got to be somebody!
Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,
all alone in furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
and everybody else is married! All in the universe married but me!

Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
then marriage would be possible--
Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
so I wait--bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.

 

I Held a Shelley Manuscript

My hands did numb to beauty
as they reached into Death and tightened!

O sovereign was my touch
upon the tan-inks's fragile page!

Quickly, my eyes moved quickly,
sought for smell for dust for lace
for dry hair!

I would have taken the page
breathing in the crime!
For no evidence have I wrung from dreams--
yet what triumph is there in private credence?

Often, in some steep ancestral book,
when I find myself entangled with leopard-apples
and torched-skin mushrooms,
my cypressean skein outreaches the recorded age
and I, as though tipping a pitcher of milk,
pour secrecy upon the dying page.

 

Poets Hitchiking on the Highway

Of course I tried to tell him
but he cranked his head
without an excuse.
I told him the sky chases
the sun
And he smiled and said:
'What's the use.'
I was feeling like a demon
again
So I said: 'But the ocean chases
the fish.'
This time he laughed
and said: 'Suppose the
strawberry were
pushed into a mountain.'
After that I knew the
war was on--
So we fought:
He said: 'The apple-cart like a
broomstick-angel
snaps & splinters
old dutch shoes.'
I said: 'Lightning will strike the old oak
and free the fumes!'
He said: 'Mad street with no name.'
I said: 'Bald killer! Bald killer! Bald killer!'
He said, getting real mad,
'Firestoves! Gas! Couch!'
I said, only smiling,
'I know God would turn back his head
if I sat quietly and thought.'
We ended by melting away,
hating the air!

 

Spirit

Spirit
is Life
It flows thru
the death of me
endlessly
like a river
unafraid
of becoming
the sea

 

The Whole Mess... Almost

I ran up six flights of stairs
to my small furnished room
opened the window
and began throwing out
those things most important in life

First to go, Truth, squealing like a fink:
"Don't! I'll tell awful things about you!"
"Oh yeah? Well, I've nothing to hide... OUT!"
Then went God, glowering & whimpering in amazement:
"It's not my fault! I'm not the cause of it all!" "OUT!"
Then Love, cooing bribes: "You'll never know impotency!
All the girls on Vogue covers, all yours!"
I pushed her fat ass out and screamed:
"You always end up a bummer!"
I picked up Faith Hope Charity
all three clinging together:
"Without us you'll surely die!"
"With you I'm going nuts! Goodbye!"

Then Beauty... ah, Beauty --
As I led her to the window
I told her: "You I loved best in life
... but you're a killer; Beauty kills!"
Not really meaning to drop her
I immediately ran downstairs
getting there just in time to catch her
"You saved me!" she cried
I put her down and told her: "Move on."

Went back up those six flights
went to the money
there was no money to throw out.
The only thing left in the room was Death
hiding beneath the kitchen sink:
"I'm not real!" It cried
"I'm just a rumor spread by life..."
Laughing I threw it out, kitchen sink and all
and suddenly realized Humor
was all that was left --
All I could do with Humor was to say:
"Out the window with the window!"

 

Direction Sign in London Zoo

<<---
Giant Panda
Lions
Humming Birds
Ladies

 

Friend

Friends be kept
Friends be gained
And even friends lost be friends regained
He had no foes he made them all into friends
A friend will die for you
Acquaintances can never make friends
Some friends want to be everybody's friend
There are friends who take you away from friends
Friends believe in friendship with a vengeance!
Some friends always want to do you favors
Some always want to get NEAR you
You can't do this to me I'm your FRIEND
My friends said FDR
Let's be friends says the USSR
Old Scrooge knew a joy in a friendless Christmas
Leopold and Loeb planning in the night!
Et tu Brute
I have many friends yet sometimes I am nobody's friend
The majority of friends are male
Girls always prefer male friends
Friends know when you're troubled
It's what they crave for!
The bonds of friendship are not inseparable
Those who haven't any friends and want some are often creepy
Those who have friends and don't want them are doomed
Those who haven't any friends and don't want any are grand
Those who have friends and want them seem sadly human
Sometimes I scream Friends are bondage! A madness!
All a waste of INDIVIDUAL time --
Without friends life would be different not miserable
does one need a friend in heaven --

 

Humanity

What simple profundities
What profound simplicities
To sit down among the trees
and breathe with them
in murmur brool and breeze —

And how can I trust them
who pollute the sky
with heavens
the below with hells

Well, humankind,
I’m part of you
and so my son

but neither of us
will believe
your big sad lie

 

Three
-- from "The Happy Birthday of Death,"
(c) 1960, New Directions Publishing Co.

1.

The streetsinger is sick
crouched in the doorway, holding his heart.
One less song in the noisy night.


2.

Outside the wall
the aged gardener plants his shears
A new young man
has come to snip the hedge


3.

Death weeps because Death is human
spending all day in a movie when a child dies.

 

Elegiac Feelings American
for the dear memory of Jack Kerouac

1
How inseparable you and the America you saw yet was never
there to see; you and America, like the tree and the
ground, are one the same; yet how like a palm tree
in the state of Oregon. . . dead ere it blossomed,
like a snow polar loping the
Miami—
How so that which you were or hoped to be, and the
America not, the America you saw yet could
not see
So like yet unlike the ground from which you stemmed;
you stood upon America like a rootless
Hat-bottomed tree; to the squirrel there was no
divorcement in its hop of ground to its climb of
tree. . . until it saw no acorn fall, then it knew
there was no marriage between the two; how
fruitless, how useless, the sad unnaturalness
of nature; no wonder the dawn ceased being
a joy. . . for what good the earth and sun when
the tree in between is good for nothing. . . the
inseparable trinity, once dissevered, becomes a
cold fruitless meaningless thrice-marked
deathlie in its awful amputation. . . O butcher
the pork-chop is not the pig—The American
alien in America is a bitter truncation; and even
this elegy, dear Jack, shall have a butchered
tree, a tree beaten to a pulp, upon which it'll be
contained—no wonder no good news can be
written on such bad news—
How alien the natural home, aye, aye, how dies the tree when
the ground is foreign, cold, unfree—The winds
know not to blow the seed of the Redwood where
none before stood; no palm is blown to Oregon,
how wise the wind—Wise
too the senders of the prophet. . . knowing the
fertility of the designated spot where suchmeant
prophecy be announced and answerable—the
sower of wheat does not sow in the fields of cane;
for the sender of the voice did also send the ear.
And were little Liechtenstein, and not America, the
designation. . . surely then we'd the tongues of
Liechtenstein—
Was not so much our finding America as it was America finding
its voice in us; many spoke to America as though
America by land-right was theirs by law-right
legislatively acquired by materialistic coups of
wealth and inheritance; like the citizen of society
believes himself the owner of society, and what he
makes of himself he makes of America and thus when
he speaks of America he speaks of himself, and quite
often such a he is duly elected to represent what he
represents. . . an infernal ego of an America
Thus many a patriot speaks lovingly of himself when he speaks
of America, and not to appreciate him is not to
appreciate America, and vice-versa
The tongue of truth is the true tongue of America, and it could
not be found in the Daily Heralds since the voice
therein was a controlled voice, wickedly
opinionated, and directed at gullible
No wonder we found ourselves rootless. . . for we've become the
very roots themselves,—the lie can never take root
and there grow under a truth of sun and therefrom bear the fruit of truth

Alas, Jack, seems I cannot requiem thee without
requieming America, and that's one requiem
I shall not presume, for as long as I live there'll
be no requiems for me
For though the tree dies the tree is born anew, only until
the tree dies forever and never a tree born
anew. . . shall the ground die too
Yours the eyes that saw, the heart that felt, the voice that
sang and cried; and as long as America shall live, though
ye old Kerouac body hath died, yet shall you live. . .
for indeed ours was a time of prophecy without death
as a consequence. . . for indeed after us came the time
of assassins, and whotll doubt thy last words "After
me. . . the deluge"
Ah, but were it a matter of seasons I'd not doubt the return of the
tree, for what good the ground upon which we stand
itself unable to stand—aye the tree will in seasonal
time fall, for it be nature's wont, thaPs why the
ground, the down, the slow yet sure decomposition,
until the very tree becomes the very ground where
once it stood; yet falls the ground. . . ah, then what?
unanswerable this be unto nature, for there is no
ground whereon to fall and land, no down, no up
even, directionless, and into what, if what,
composition goeth its decomposition?
We came to announce the human spirit in the name of
beauty and truth; and now this spirit cries out in nature's sake
the horrendous imbalance of all things natural. . .
elusive nature caught! like a bird in hand, harnessed
and engineered in the unevolutional ways of
experiment and technique
Yes though the tree has taken root in the ground the ground is
upturned and in this forced vomitage is spewn the
dire miasma of fossilific trees of death the
million-yeared pitch and grease of a dinosauric age
dead and gone how all brought to surface again and
made to roam the sky we breathe in stampedes of
pollution
What hope for the America so embodied in thee, O friend, when
the very same alcohol that disembodied your
brother redman of his America, disembodied
ye—A plot to grab their land, we know—yet what
plot to grab the ungrabbable land of one's spirit? Thy visionary America were
impossible to unvision—for when the shades of the
windows of the spirit are brought down, that which
was seen yet remains. . . the eyes of the spirit yet see
Aye the America so embodied in thee, so definitely rooted
therefrom, is the living embodiment of all
humanity, young and free
And though the great redemptive tree blooms, not yet full, not
yet entirely sure, there be the darksters, sad and
old, would like to have it fall; they hack and chop
and saw away. . . that nothing full and young and
free for sure be left to stand at all
Verily were such trees as youth be. . . were such be made to fall,
and never rise to fall again, then shall the ground
fall, and the deluge come and wash it asunder,
wholly all and forever, like a wind out of nowhere into nowhere


2
"How so like Clark Gable hands your hands. . ." (Mexico
conversation 1956)—Hands so strong and Mexican
sunned, busy about America, hands I knew would
make it, would hold guard and caring
You were always talking about America, and America was always
history to me, General Wolfe lying on the ground
dying in his bright redcoat smittered by a bluecoat
hanging in the classroom wall next to the father of
our country whose heart area was painted in cloud. .
. yes, ours was an American history, a history with a
future, for sure;

How a Whitman we were always wanting, a hoping, an
America, that America ever an America to be,
never an America to sing about or to, but ever an
America to sing hopefully for
All we had was past America, and ourselves, the now America,
and O how we regarded that past! And O the big lie
of that school classroom! The Revolutionary War. . .
all we got was Washington, Revere, Henry,
Hamilton, Jefferson, and Franklin. . . never Nat
Bacon, Sam Adams, Paine. . . and what of liberty?
was not to gain liberty that war, liberty they had,
they were the freest peoples of their time; was not to
lose that liberty was why they went to arms—yet,
and yet, the season that blossomed us upon the
scene was hardly free; be there liberty today? not to
hear the redman, the blackman, the youngman tell—
And in the beginning when liberty was all one could hear; wasn't
much of it for the poor witches of Salem; and that
great lauder of liberty, Franklin, paid 100 dollar
bounty for each scalp of the wild children of natural
free; Pitt Jr. obtained most of the city of brotherly
love by so outrageous a deception as stymied the
trusting heart of his red brother with tortuous
mistrust; and how ignorant of liberty the wise
Jefferson owning the black losers of liberty; for the
declarers of independence to declare it only for part
of the whole was to declare civil war
Justice is all any man of liberty need hope for; and justice was a
most important foundling thing; a diadem for
American life upon which the twinship of private
property and God could be established;
How suffered the poor native American the enforced
establishing of those two pillars of liberty!

From justice stems a variable God, from God stems a
dictated justice
"The ways of the Lord lead to liberty" sayeth St. Paul. . .
- yet a man need liberty, not God, to be able to follow
the ways of God
The justness of individual land right is not justifiable to those
to whom the land by right of first claim
collectively belonged;
He who sells mankind's land to a single man sells the
Brooklyn Bridge
The second greatest cause of human death. . . is the
acquiring of property
No American life is worth an acre of America. . . if No
Trespassing and guarding mastiffs can't tell you
shotguns will
So, sweet seeker, just what America sought you anyway? Know
that today there are millions of Americans
seeking America. . . know that even with all
those eye-expanding chemicals—only more of
what is not there do they see
Some find America in songs of clumping stone, some in
fogs of revolution
All find it in their hearts. . . and O how it tightens the heart
Not so much their being imprisoned in an old and unbearable
America. . . more the America imprisoned in
them—so wracks and darkens the spirit
An America unseen, dreamed, tremors uncertain, bums the
heart, sends bad vibes forth cosmic and otherwise
You could see the contempt in their young-sad eyes. . . and
meantime the jails are becoming barber shops, and
the army has always been
Yet unable they are to shave the hurricane from their eyes
Look unto Moses, no prophet ever reached the dreamed of
lands. . . ah but your eyes are dead. . . nor the
America beyond your last dreamed hill hovers
real

3
How alike our hearts and time and dying, how our America out
there and in our hearts insatiable yet overHowing
hallelujahs of poesy and hope
How we knew to feel each dawn, to ooh and aah each golden
sorrow and helplessness coast to coast in our
search for whatever joy steadfast never there
nowever grey
Yea the America the America unstained and never revolutioned
for liberty ever in us free, the America in
us—unboundaried and unhistoried, we the
America, we the fathers of that America, the
America you Johnnyappleseeded, the America I
heralded, an America not there, an
America soon to be

The prophet affects the state, and the state affects the
prophet—What happened to you, O friend,
happened to America, and we know what
happened to America—the stain. . . the stains,
O and yet when it's asked of you "What happened to him?" I say
"What happened to America has happened
him—the two were inseparable" Like the wind to the
sky is the voice to the word....
And now that voice is gone, and now the word is bone, and the
America is going, the planet boned
A man can have everything he desires in his home yet have
nothing outside the door—for a feeling man, a poet
man, such an outside serves only to make home a
place in which to hang oneself
And us ones, sweet friend, we've always brought America home
with us—and never like dirty laundry, even with all
the stains
And through the front door, lovingly cushioned in our hearts;
where we sat down and told it our dreams of beauty
hopeful that it would leave our homes beautiful
And what has happened to our dream of beauteous
America, Jack?
Did it look beautiful to you, did it sound so too, in its cold
electric blue, that America that spewed and
stenched your home, your good brain, that unreal
fake America, that caricature of America, that
plugged in a wall America. . . a gallon of desperate
whiskey a day it took ye to look that America in its
disembodied eye
And it saw you not, it never saw you, for what you saw was not
there, what you saw was Laugh-in, and all America
was in laughing, that America brought you in,
brought America in, all that out there brought in, all
that nowhere nothing in, no wonder you were
lonesome, died empty and sad and lonely, you the
real face and voice. . . caught before the fake face
and voice—and it became real and you fake,
O the awful fragility of things

"What happened to him?" "What happened to you?" Death
happened him; a gypped life happened; a God gone
sick happened; a dream nightmared; a youth
armied; an army massacred; the father wants to eat
the son, the son feeds his stone, but the father no
get stoned
And you, Jack, poor Jack, watched your father die, your America
die, your God die, your body die, die die die; and
today fathers are watching their sons die, and their
sons are watching babies die, why? Why? How we
both asked WHY?
O the sad sad awfulness of it all

You but a mere decade of a Kerouac, but what a lifetime in that
dix Kerouacl
Nothing happened you that did not happen; nothing went
unfulfilled, you circ'd the circle full, and what's
happening to America is no longer happening
to you, for what happens to the consciousness of the land
happens to the voice of that consciousness and the voice has
died yet the land remains to forget what it has heard and the
word leaves no bone
And both word and land of flesh and earth
suffer the same sick the same death. . . and dies the voice before
the flesh, and the wind blows a dead silence over the dying
earth, and the earth will leave its bone, and nothing of wind will
roll the moan, but silence, silence, nor e'en that will
God's ear hear

Aye, what happened to you, dear friend, compassionate friend,
is what is happening to everyone and thing of
planet the clamorous sadly desperate planet now
one voice less. . . expendable as the wind. . . gone,
and who'll now blow away the awful miasma of
sick, sick and dying earthflesh-soul America

When you went on the road looking for America you found only
what you put there and a man seeking gold finds the
only America there is to find; and his investment
and a poet's investment. . . the same when comes
the crash, and it's crashing, yet the windows are
tight, are not for jumping; from
hell none e'er fell

4
In Hell angels sing too
And they sang to behold anew
Those who followed the first Christ-bearer
left hell and beheld a world new
yet with guns and Bibles came they
and soon their new settlement became old
and once again hell held quay
The ArcAngel Raphael was I to you
And I put the Cross of the Lord of Angels
upon you. . . there
on the eve of a new world to explore
And you were flashed upon the old and darkling day
a Beat Christ-boy. . . bearing the gentle roundness of things
insisting the soul was round not square
And soon. . . behind thee
there came a-following
the children of flowers

North Beach, San Francisco, 1969


 

The Interview

excerpt from an interview with Gregory Corso
by Gavin Selerie
Ladbroke, London, 1982


GS: I'd like you to tell me about your background in New York--the East Side.

GC: My background did not start with the East Side; it started with Greenwich Village, which is West Side. I was born on Bleeker/MacDougal Street which is the heart of Greenwich Village, which has a combination of Italian immigrants mixed with some of the sharpest heads all over the planet, who live there. Meaning the Bohemian types, the writers. Edna St. Vincent Millay lived there–or you name 'em–the writers who were part of that scene. And then, of course, the tourists which came down on the weekend, and they never see any of the people who live there, the residents; they only see each other and they point out to each other and say, "There's one." But all they do is come down with masquerade, try to act like they're Bohemian. This is as a kid that I saw it; remember now, this is before the Beatniks and all that. Anyway, it was the hippest place in town and I thought, "A big city like New York oh yeah, Tops." And as I grew up in it and the years changed there was movings around. I moved up over Lower East Side and I was adopted by eight foster parents; I lived all over New York City with these parents, man, till I was about ten years old. My father took me back home, back to Greenwich Village, and he thought by taking me out of the orphanage he'd be out of the World War too. But no way–they got him anyway. He went in the Navy and then I lived on the streets.

GS: You lived on the streets?

GC: I had no father and no mother. My father went into the armed service and I never saw my mother–I don't know what happened to her. Nobody knows. Yeah, I have a belly–button! Anyway, I lived on the streets and did pretty good until I got caught stealing, what was it? I kicked in a restaurant window, went in and took all the food that I wanted, and while coming out I was grabbed.

GS: You were really hungry?

GC: Oh yeah. They put me in the Tombs. Now the Tombs, like the name says, are so horrible that they had to close it down. Today it doesn't exist and people go in the electric chair and all that. I was what?--twelve years old--and I was thrown in the cells with these people, so I learned fast.

GS: Did other people in the cells teach you stuff?

GC: Not those, not that time. All they wanted to do was fuck and of course I saved my virginity by fighting back. The lucky thing was that I was Italian; when the other Italians saw me fight back, they came to my defence. If you don't fight back then they call you a 'free-hole'--that was the expression. So I fought back; I saved my virginity. They let me out when I was thirteen. These were big war years, right? '43, 1943, and I'm out on the streets again. But this time I didn't have a place to sleep. So again I kick in a window and I go to sleep in this place, which was called the Educational Alliance; it was a place where the kids in the neighbourhood go, like an alternative place. In those early days it was that--boy scouts, all kinds of things. And I fell asleep there. Police come in with the night watchman; they see me on the floor and they bring me right back to the Tombs thing again. I spent four months there in the hottest summer time--it was hell, man alive, and I really couldn't take it any more and I got very sick in my body and they sent me to the hospital. Now the hospital was called Bellevue Hospital; it was where they put runaway boys but because it was 1943 they had no room for the boys and it was crowded, so all the mad people were there. I was put with those who were least mad but one day I rolled up a piece of white bread and I pooped it in the air--a little ball--and it hit somebody's eye, who started screaming and pointing at me. And everybody started pointing at me. They grabbed me and put me in a straightjacket and threw me up to a room on the fourth floor where old women were screaming, where men were peeing in each other's mouths. The ball–game was over, the whole thing was over already, and I was thirteen years old when I caught that shit. Didn't even know about jerking off yet--total innocent--so I got the heavy thing fast. Get out of that one now. How old am I?--about fifteen-and-a-half; I'm out on the streets and I'm tough now. I make sure I'm gonna go after whatever the fuck is on that planet. So all I saw was just that.

GS: Appetite, violence?

GC: No, to be smart. I used to go to the library all of the time and read the books as best I could–books on rhetoric, for instance. How do you get smart, Gregory? You see, I went to the sixth grade and that was the highest I ever went. How do you get smart?–you got to read books, but what books? I had no friends or anything to tell me this shit; I had to check it out myself. Rhetoric–I don't know where the fuck I heard that word but I thought that's what made you smart. Do you know how many books they have on rhetoric that were done about 1895 or the late nineteenth century? Thousands!–of this fucker on rhetoric. Then I thought, "What do I need with rhetoric?" I met this kid in the library when the war was over, and he had this great idea. He said, "Hey, you know these Army–Navy stores that are selling walkie–talkies? If we buy four of these things we can get a lot of money." I said, He said, "We gotta get two more guys; one drives a car and speaks through the walkie–talkie to the guy on the stairway, who relays to the guys breaking the safe that no cops are coming." That's putting crime on a scientific basis and that I ate up. I said, "Great, about time. Now if I'm going to that fucking jail again with all that horror, at least it's for something–not that shit of going up because I fell asleep or needed something to eat." This is a big one. O.K. so he has some money, this kid. His name is John but he never gave his last name. Dig the game. Picked up two other guys. What happens is we get twenty–six thousand dollars. Now this is 1945/6, 50 that's a lot of money. We shared the money and broke up. John goes off, I go off to Florida. I leave big tips, I buy zoot suits, like a real asshole, you know. The two Irish kids open up a bar mitzvah hall where people get married and all that kind of thing. and buy hams, turkeys, bushels of whiskey and all this crap–invite the whole neighbourhood in. After a while the police get suspicious because here are these guys, fifteen/sixteen years old, supplying everyone with drinks and food. Where'd they get all this money? They questioned the kids, who were drunk as hell, and they gave my name to the cops. The kids know my name, you see, though I don't know the other guy's name–thank god I never knew. When the police came and got me down in Florida they beat the shit out of me, saying, "What's John's last name?" I said, "I don't know,?" and that's why I was given the most time in prison–three years in Dannemora, Clinton Prison. The judge said I was a menace to society because I had put crime on a scientific basis. I did three years there–from the beginning of seventeen years old to the end of nineteen; that's 1947–1950. I am so happy I never knew that guy's name cause once you mention the name of a partner in crime, mister your life is over. If you squeal you blow it I was lucky. I never got the fuckers who squealed on me but I didn't care; they were just kids anyway. So the first thing I learned was: "Never give your name to strangers while you're doing a crime." I took the lickings, went to prison, and that's where I learned, I think, the rest of that smell. Three shots were laid on me in prison. First of all: "Don't take your shoes off"–which meant you're walking right out. Because three years was a cinch compared to the thirty–six years or a lifetime given to others. People go to the electric chair but I'd been given a different path. The next thing they said was: "Don't you serve time; let time serve you." That's when I got off rhetoric and ate up all the books. That's when I got into Stendhal, into Hugo, into Shelley, into all the goody-gum–drops. I ate up the 1905 Standard Dictionary, every word; it was about this thick [gestures] . All the archaic and obsolete words–ate it up. So I didn't serve time, I let time serve me. I was fed well and because I was young I had a kind of mascot status. The last shot was given to me as I'm walking out of the prison. Big Mafioso man, who never spoke to me, gives me this hit: "When you're talking to two people when you're out there, make sure you see three." I thought, "What does this mean?" and I said, "oh yeah, of course, dig yourself." That's where you get the control. If I'm talking to two people, make sure that I'm there too, and then everything's gonna be in harmony and fine. But if you're talking to two people and you don't know that you're there, you're out of control, man. It's a dangerous game in life. So the only thing I'm left with on that one was what about participation? What about getting happy–drunk sometimes and just let things abandon for a while. Well, that's happened to me in life and I've been in good fortune; I never got hurt when I was in abandon. I'm in my weakest moment when I'm in that state. Any fuckers want to get me, they can get me then, but you see I'm a very smart man, a happy one. I don't hurt nobody–nothing like that. When I let myself go in abandon, well yeah, if they want to get my arse they can do it.

GS: What do you mean exactly by the phrase "in abandon"?

GC: When I let it all go, I don't give a fuck what happens. I just trust people and they sense everything's gonna be alright. They know who the fuck I am already, take it easy 'cause I don't hurt anybody. I don't expect to be hurt, so I'm not. That was the last shot they laid on me in prison–being when you talk to two, make sure you see three, same as if you talk to one, make sure you see two, and so on. So that's the upbringing. Now, twenty years old, I come out and I go back to Greenwich Village. Now, of course, I'm a wealthy man.

GS: With the stuff you got from the safe?

GC: It's all in my head. Not the money from the safe. No, that's not wealth; that I spent dumb, leaving big tips and buying zoot suits. Are you kidding? The money was not the game; it was what I learned and that's why I came out rich. Now, who did I meet right away with the richness is Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Kerouac, all those fuckers. Because I was one of the rare people around that had the head.

GS: Were they famous then or not?

GC: No, they only had good heads. They were smart.

GS: Who struck you as having most artistic impulse in that group?

GC: I would say Kerouac for his sweetness, his gentility; there was no mean streak in him like I would find maybe sometimes in Ginsberg. That's why he [Ginsberg] has got to kill his ego all the time in these Buddhist schools; he's got something to kill, right? I used to joke with him and say, "Catch that man, he's killing his ego!" or run after a guru and say, "That guru's killing my friend's ego." Whereas Kerouac was out of that shit already; he knew who he was and all that and he put his ego to good work. You know when it's energy, spiritus, you don't kill that shit if it's good; it's not hurting anybody. But Ginsie–he knew that in himself he had this hurt, pain with his mother when he was a kid or some shit, I don't know what it was–pain of all Jews maybe, who knows.

GS: Cain's curse.

GC: Whatever it is, that's what he's stuck with. So I didn't take up on him as much as I did with Kerouac. The other guy I dug a lot was Burroughs because he was a smart man already; he learned it through the druggie pool–the street scene of an old aristocratic kind of man.

CS: Was he on heroin then?

CC: Yeah, at the time I met him. But–dig–he was like the people I knew in prison. I remember the people I knew in prison; I was very fortunate to know them–they came from 1910, 1920, 1930. I did not know the fuckers from 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970.! I didn't know these dumb arses who are in jail today; I knew the smart babies who were.... They're not that smart because they were in, but nonetheless it was a different kind of social rebellion in those days.

GS: How was it different?

GC: First of all, they were not in there for drugs. They weren't in there for any kind of cornball thing that they would put people in jail for today. Burroughs was a sharp man. Remember these were friends; these are guys who were not known at that time. They were not the Burroughs, Ginsberg Kerouac that you talk about.

Gavin Selerie, "The Interview," in The Riverside Interviews: 3 Gregory Corso. Gavin Selerie, ed., Ladbroke Grove: Binnacle Press, 1982, pp. 21–25.

 

Gregory Corso
from VARIATIONS ON A GENERATION (1959)

2

-What do you think about the Beat Generation?-1 don't think it's anything. I don't think it exists. There's no such thing as the Beat Generation.-You don't consider yourself beat?-Hell no! I don't consider myself beat, or beatified.-What are you if not beat?-An individual, nothing.

- They say to be beat is to be nothing.-

-I don't care what they say, there's no Beat Generation.-

-Don't you care about the existence of the beat?-Hell no! man!-

-Don't you love your fellow men?

-No I don't love my fellow man in fact I dislike them very much, except the individual if I get to know him; I don't want to govern or be governed.

-But you are governed by laws of society.-

But I'm trying to avoid that.-Ah, by avoiding society you become separate from society and being separate from society is being BEAT.

-Oh, yeah?-

-Yeah.-

-I don't understand. I don't want to be in the society at all, I want to be outside it.-

-Face it, man, you're beat.-

-I am not! It's not even a conscious desire on my part, it's just the way I am, I am what I am.

-Man, you're so beat you don't know. -Oh, yeah?-Yeah.-

-Crazy, man.-

-Cool, here, light a joint.-

 

3

There was no mention of the use of "measure" in poetry; not one of them said a thing about the death of the iambic pentameter in America; they spoke about themselves, not about poetry. The Beat Generation is no longer about poetry. The Beat Generation is now about everything.

 

4

-And what do you think of the Beat Generation?-

-A generation is a human generation. Beat means to have all the blather knocked out of you by experience, suddenly seeing things as they are. Beat doesn't mean a broken spirit, on the contrary, it's scourged of external blather! Wallace Stevens said the greatest misfortune is not to live in the physical world to feel that one's desire is too difficult to tell from one's despair.

--But what do you think about the Beat Generation?

-A certain style, when you look back on it, old photos, Fitzgerald in Paris, 1920, high society, prohibition, jazz; that's more what characterized a generation than what they believed in. The fundamental facts are always the same, the style changes, but the facts, my boy, the facts remain.

-Are you beat?-

-Well I'm not a square, you see a square is some guy who forces himself arbitrarily into a square auto-life mold, because squareness is not a shape that any living creature occurs in. There are all varieties of squares in America. Take for instance a sharecropper, only thing he'd share would be his manure, now that's kind of square, ain't it?-

-You're beat, then?-

-Beatness may result from any sort of fundamental experience, a particular form of insight whereby your realize that nine tenths of everything that moves and operates people is----!---

 

13

-Hey, what do you know about the Beat Generation?

-What we are witnessing is a delicate shift of total consciousness in America-It won't be done through publicity or propaganda, articles or any form of-brainwashing persuasion-it will occur as response to altered history scene. Statue of Liberty standing surrounded by the garbage of materialism, a sea of humanity starves in the water outside her. Love puts pressure-humanity forced into the brain and Congress. New fact, Sputnik, Heisenberg, China, Soul, Angels (the image of man)-these latter apparitions of what was sensed before. The shift and new recognition can only be incarnated and commenced thru great works of Art (as Whitman rightly demanded from poets to come)-Art to stand beacon like Statue naked and courageous, individual statement of private actual, uncensored individual perception. Always assuming as did Whitman and the early democrats-that free will is not destructive. An inspiration contrary to the teachings of the evil religions. It was the atheistical enlightment which first framed the ideal democratic declaration of independence. Therefore a new art whose objectivity will be the accuracy of its introspection-the bringing forth of heretofore hidden materials, lusts, spiritual ambitions, experiences-in the new forms in which they will necessarily arrive-rather than the cringing self-consciousness of the psyche whose individuality has been so thwarted-that it masks itself and deceives others-under a guise of a received system of thought, of a system of thought at all, a received mode of feeling (which is never received but constantly occurs on its own) (when true) (when at all) or measure, stanzaic or structural, as far as its poesy is concerned. 0 fear of the fury of subjective revolution, death and new beat insight!-

 

Woodstock Journal
A Tribute to Gregory Corso