Allen, it’s been 50 years now, and so I can tell you,
I never liked Howl.
I saw you hopeless, beat
down by your own illusions,
hallucinating a yellow paper rose
twisted on a clothes hanger
in an abandoned furnished room,
while I was living
the best years of my life,
a Communist, an activist,
opposed to all the shit, same as you,
but not disappointed, not in despair.
I anticipated it. The revolution!
I was making it, the revolution.
Even though I never did anything
but hand out leaflets in front of Bloomingdale’s.
But here’s the story, Allen, I’m no longer a Communist.
I lost my way in the light that failed.
And that’s why I’m writing this. It’s a confession.
I’m no longer anything,
though I get sentimental over Alger Hiss.
And the Rosenbergs whose little boys were orphaned.
But that’s neither here nor there.
I’m in the dark. I’m paranoid, too.
Allen, they’re working on flooding Manhattan
with melting ice.
Kids used to play cops and robbers
with water pistols. Now it’s AK 47’s.
They can’t wait to grow up and play
cops and crack addicts.
In the army, female recruits show their tits,
then sic dogs on nude prisoners of war.
I’m sick, Allen. When they listen in on my phone now,
they don’t hear anything but dirty conversations
I have with women whose names I find in the phone book.
They want to know what books I’m reading.
If they asked me I’d tell them Das Kapital,
in German, but they see from my library card
it’s mostly videos – stuff like
National Velvet and Andy Hardy Gets A Date.
I have a flat-screen television. You don’t know
what that is. I don’t, either, except it costs more.
The newscasters all say the same things.
I write them indignant letters.
They ignore me. It’s the best I can do, Allen.
Fifty years later.
I fear I will end up sniffing
a yellow paper rose on a clothes hangar.
Perhaps I should emigrate while there’s still time.
I could to go to Vancouver Island.
They have this magical garden there.
Maybe they’d let me
I could sniff the real roses
while pulling weeds.
It’s not a bad idea.
I might find a woodsy place
with nobody around. I could sit on a rock
on a clear night under a full moon,
I’d think of you, and what you said,
and I’d look up at the moon,
and you know what I’d do, Allen? –I’d howl.
Our feature on April 1st is Robert Riche who was WINNER OF THE March 18 SLAM! He is a poet, novelist, award winning playwright and screen writer, a Breadloaf Writer’s Conference Scholar, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient etc etc etc. Mr. Riche will read work from his new book of poetry On the Line, by Pudding House and other poems. He has one previous chapbook called Eternity and Other Mundane Matters from Foothills Publishing’s Springfed series, and has published poems in the Alsop Review’s online Magazine, Octavo. If you heard him in the slam – you will know how amazing this guy really is. His credentials are lengthy.
He’s written two novels What Are We Doing in Latin America? (A Novel About Connecticut) and The Vision Thing, (a satire on the Bush dynasty!) His short stories appeared in Commentary and a number of literary magazines. (Click for a sample) His plays (Malcom X – message from the Grassroots, among others), have been performed off-off Broadway in New York, and in regional theaters in Berkeley, Washington, Atlanta, and in Bristol, England. Besides all that — he has had numerous comedy television assignments and sometimes writes about food, wine and travel. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Connecticut Foundation for the Arts grant, Advanced Drama Research grant; a winner of the prestigious Stanley Drama Award, etc etc