...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 11, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Ginsberg

[Dreadfully sorry about the tardiness thing. Finals you know.]

A Ginsberg poem has been overdue for quite some time. Here's one that references Ken Kesey: beat author, champion wrestler, CIA guinea pig, author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and a man who arguably inspired today's rave scene with his Electric Kool Aid Acid Tests of the mid-sixties, which in turn launched the careers of Tom Wolfe and The Grateful Dead.

Here's how his friend, Allen Ginsberg, described one of Kesey's infamous get-togethers in 1965:

First Party at Ken Kesey's with Hell's Angels

Cool black night thru redwoods
cars parked outside in shade
behind the gate, stars dim above
the ravine, a fire burning by the side
porch and a few tired souls hunched over
in black leather jackets. In the huge
wooden house, a yellow chandelier
at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers
hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles
Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths
dancing to the vibration thru the floor,
a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man
sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man
sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks.
And 4 police cars parked outside the painted
gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.

If you look, Kesey's name seems to pop up everywhere. The Who and The Beatles wrote songs about his antics. Hunter S. Thompson introduced him to the Hells Angels, who became regular fixtures at Kesey's parties in the hills west of Palo Alto. (That is, until September 1966, when several of them beat him up pretty badly.) Timothy Leary and Jack Kerouac met him, but were unimpressed. Neal Cassady and Robert Pirsig were close friends. Kesey was like the Kevin Bacon of the beat and hippie countercultures.

More poetry: Steve celebrates his new OS with a little Blake.

Posted by annika, May. 11, 2005 |
Rubric: Poetry


Or was that Tim Leary?

Posted by: Casca on May. 11, 2005

Yay! Poetry! Gonna be hard to top last week's submission...but Ginsberg doesn't begin to come close.

Fact is, I prefer the sound of cats mating to Ginsberg.

Posted by: Victor on May. 12, 2005

Yay! How 'bout some old Ferlinghetti?!

(And I do mean old. The guy hasn't written a poem about anything other than writing poetry for decades.)

Posted by: Tuning Spork on May. 12, 2005

Only a very occasional visitor to thy blog but I was surprised to see some Ginsberg amidst your usually pretty conservative postings. Not that I'm complaining. It's cool that you dig Ginsberg. Unless the post was meant to be ironic... but I'm pretty sure that irony is considered anti-Republican, isn't it? So that's probably not the case. Unless only anti-Republican irony is considered anti-Republican... it's all so confusing....

Ginsberg wrote a lot of crap but what makes him a good poet - in my own media-saturated opinion - are lines like "bent littering the yard" and "red lights revolving in the leaves".

Good stuff.

Posted by: Imightbegod on May. 15, 2005

Thanks for visiting. i hope you become more than
occasional. You might find that i'm not always as
conservative as i seem at first glance. But
anyways, i think Ginsberg is sometimes good and
sometimes great and often tiresome, too. On balance, i like him a lot. My favorite beat poet is O'Hara, though. i'm almost never disappointed with him.

Posted by: annika on May. 15, 2005