Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

from 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 machinery 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 tenement 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, burning their money in wastebaskets and
listening to the Terror through the wall, 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, alcohol 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 motionless 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 Brooklyn, 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 Brooklyn Bridge,
a 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-grindings and migraines of China under
junk-withdrawal 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 grandfather night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the
cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary 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 Oklahoma 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 incomprehensible 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 manuscripts,
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 candle 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 petticoat 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 unemployment 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 unsuccessfully, 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 sinister intelligent editors, or
were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown
and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley & firetrucks, not even one
free beer,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the
filthy Passaic, 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 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 hypnotism & 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 instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity
hydrotherapy psychotherapy 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, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of
life a nightmare, 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 furnished 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 vibrating 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 intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing 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.