Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
     sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
     Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the
     box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
     pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts
     of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, sur-
     rounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
     machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
     sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that
     stream, no hermit in those mounts, just our-
     selves rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums
     on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
     shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
     dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--
--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,
     memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes
     Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black
     treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the
     poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel
     knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck
     and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the
     past--
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
     crackly bleak and dusty with the **** and smog
     and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like
     a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,
     soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sun-
     rays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried
     wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures
     from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster
     fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O
     my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man's grime but death and human
     locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad
     skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black
     mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuber-
     ance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial--
     modern--all that civilization spotting your
     crazy golden crown--
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless
     eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the
     home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar
     bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards
     of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely
     tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what
     more could I name, the smoked ashes of some
     **** cigar, the ***** of wheelbarrows and the
     milky ******* of cars, wornout ***** out of chairs
     & sphincters of dynamos--all these
entangled in your mummied roots--and you there
     standing before me in the sunset, all your glory
     in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
     lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
     to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
     grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
     monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your
     grime, while you cursed the heavens of the rail-
     road and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a
     flower? when did you look at your skin and
     decide you were an impotent ***** old locomo-
     tive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
     shade of a once powerful mad American locomo-
     tive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a
     sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me
     not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
     it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
     too, and anyone who'll listen,
--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
     bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
     beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're bles-
     sed by our own seed & golden hairy naked ac-
     complishment-bodies growing into mad black
     formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
     eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
     riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit-
     down vision.

                              Berkeley, 1955
Book: Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
27.5k
         Meghan, Jamilah Price, kate, FGFiore, Hafsa and 16 others
Please log in to view and add comments on poems