Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: June 2009


“If I can read this strange old guy’s mind aright, he’s drinking a toast to the visible world, his impending disappearance from it be damned.”

John Updike, following on the heels of Norman Mailer, died recently, leaving a blank space in the New York Review of Books, where until quite recently he ran lovely articles covering art exhibitions and museum visits.  His was an acute eye, and I’ll miss his observations which I always found intelligent and eloquently written.  Rabbit runs no more.

Speaking of the NYRB, while I seldom read books (really – though I’m presently picking slowly through John McPhee’s massive collection Annals of the Former World ) I have been addicted to this journal for now 40 years or so, reading it cover to cover, regardless of my interest in any given article.  And the “personals” which  seem to demonstrate that its readership began back then and has sat firmly still since, so that the median age of those posting  has shifted from the late 20’s back then, to something around 60-70 now.  Though the sales spiels have remained pretty much the same – literary, often pretentious, “cultured”, generally well-off “left.”   For sure most of them would assert they are into ecology and whatnot, though their travels and second homes make clear it’s a certain kind of wealthy pathology.


salad in brazil

The kind of salad an NYRB person might eat (this one is from Brazil)

26 yr olds Travis Gay and wife Stephie

Travis B. Gay and his wife Stephanie, from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, all of 26 years old, proud owners of the above house, or at least its mortgage, pickup, SUV, and so it was said, big new plasma screen TV, are miffed that a program which they signed onto which would “forgive” the $100,000 hole they bought into in order to go to college is no longer functioning.  The State borrowed the money for the program to cover its own holes.   What ever happened to the American dream?  What – at 26 I don’t deserve a large house, couple of gas guzzlers, big TV to watch, and I have to pay my education bills?  WTF!   I would bet 10 to 1 Travis and his wife are Republicans too, staunch believers in The Market Economy model of how to structure a society, and think public medical programs are Socialist !   But if the lining goes in their wallet, that’s another story.  Just ask the subsidised farmers, arms makers and others who also think social welfare is a communist plot.


Thunder-thighs of Wichita

The young women above are praying at the site of the murdered doctor in Kansas who performed legal surgeries to which some of our citizenry object.  Statistically it seems most of those objecting, who label themselves “pro-life,” also support the death penalty.   Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in the church he attended, provoking much radio talk-show heavy-breathing.

I’m an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas
          but not afraid
                    to speak my lonesomeness in a car,
                    because not only my lonesomeness
                                it’s Ours, all over America,
                                                     O tender fellows–
                                & spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy
                                in the moon 100 years ago or in
                                          the middle of Kansas now.
It’s not the vast plains mute our mouths
                                that fill at midnite with ecstatic language
                     when our trembling bodies hold each other
                                breast to breast on a matress–
            Not the empty sky that hides
                                           the feeling from our faces
            nor our skirts and trousers that conceal
                     the bodylove emanating in a glow of beloved skin,
                                white smooth abdomen down to the hair
                                                                between our legs,
            It’s not a God that bore us that forbid
                     our Being, like a sunny rose
                                          all red with naked joy
                     between our eyes & bellies, yes
All we do is for this frightened thing
                     we call Love, want and lack–
            fear that we aren’t the one whose body could be
                     beloved of all the brides of Kansas City,
                     kissed all over by every boy of Wichita–
            O but how many in their solitude weep aloud like me–
                     On the bridge over the Republican River
                                almost in tears to know
                                           how to speak the right language–
                     on the frosty broad road
                                uphill between highway embankments
                     I search for the language
                                          that is also yours–
                                almost all our language has been taxed by war.
Radio antennae high tension
           wires ranging from Junction City across the plains–
           highway cloverleaf sunk in a vast meadow
                                lanes curving past Abilene
                                          to Denver filled with old
                                                               heroes of love–
                                to Wichita where McClure’s mind
                                          burst into animal beauty
                                          drunk, getting laid in a car
                                                     in a neon misted street
                                                               15 years ago–
           to Independence where the old man’s still alive
           who loosed the bomb that’s slaved all human consciousness
                             and made the body universe a place of fear–
Now, speeding along the empty plain,
                      no giant demon machine
                                visible on the horizon
           but tiny human trees and wooden houses at the sky’s edge
                      I claim my birthright!
                                reborn forever as long as Man
                                          in Kansas or other universe–Joy
                      reborn after the vast sadness of War Gods!
A lone man talking to myself, no house in the brown vastness to hear,
                      imaging the throng of Selves
                                 that make this nation one body of Prophecy
                                          languaged by Declaration as
I call all Powers of imagination
           to my side in this auto to make Prophecy,
all Lords
                      of human kingdoms to come
Shambu Bharti Baba naked covered with ash
                      Khaki Baba fat-bellied mad with the dogs
Dehorahava Baba who moans Oh how wounded, How wounded
           Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur who commands
                                                       give up your desire
Satyananda who raises two thumbs in tranquility
           Kali Pada Guha Roy whose yoga drops before the void
                       Shivananda who touches the breast and says OM
Srimata Krishnaji of Brindaban who says take for your guru
           William Blake the invisible father of English visions
            Sri Ramakrishna master of ecstasy eyes
                       half closed who only cries for his mother
Chaitanya arms upraised singing & dancing his own praise
            merciful Chango judging our bodies
                       Durga-Ma covered with blood
                                    destroyer of battlefield illusions
                       million-faced Tathagata gone past suffering
            Preserver Harekrishna returning in the age of pain
Sacred Heart my Christ acceptable
                       Allah the Compassionate One
                                           Jahweh Righteous One
                                     all Knowledge-Princes of Earth-man, all
            ancient Seraphim of heavenly Desire, Devas, yogis
                                     & holymen I chant to–
                                            Come to my lone presence
                                                    into this Vortex named Kansas,
I lift my voice aloud,
            make Mantra of American language now,
                             I here declare the end of the War!
                                         Ancient days’ Illusion!
                     and pronounce words beginning my own millennium.
Let the States tremble,
            let the Nation weep,
                       let Congress legislate it own delight
                                  let the President execute his own desire–
this Act done by my own voice,
                                          nameless Mystery–
published to my own senses,
                               blissfully received by my own form
            approved with pleasure by my sensations
                       manifestation of my very thought
                       accomplished in my own imagination
                               all realms within my consciousness fulfilled
            60 miles from Wichita
                                          near El Dorado,
                                                     The Golden One,
in chill earthly mist
            houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward
                                                                        in every direction
one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord–
            Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower
                                  where Florence is
                                                        set on a hill,
                                  stop for tea & gas

Wichita Vortex Sutra, Allen Ginsberg, 1966

abortionist killer mugshot

Scott Roeder, killer of Dr. Tiller

wichita tiller

Father & Son of Sgt. John M. Russell who killed 4 fellow GIs in Iraq

Father and son of Sgt. John M. Russell, who after 3 tours of duty, killed 4 fellow GI’s in Iraq

To wrap up, Errol Morris has a very nice, long and interesting essay piece in the NY Times, springing from an examination of the dubious forgeries of Van Meegeren of Vermeer.