CONTRIBUTING TO THE ONE GREAT POEM
I want to contribute to the One Great Poem.
The One Great Poem that is made by all the participants.
All the people alive at this moment.
People that have lived and would live in days ahead.
You, the One Great Poem, I want your lines to include the
Dalai Lama’s theory of National Karmas.
To include nations sane, mobs of coked nations,
Nations deranged, generation after generation ruled by
Here I place those who believed the enemy had no bullets.
That the enemy had no ammunition, that the enemy
would not shoot back.
I want to stand alongside those of the Automatic Weapons Plague––
shooting without thinking, shooting without aiming.
Alongside those who walk among bodies covered with plastic sheets.
Among the Sponsors of the Strength & Beauty of All Children Act.
Nobody can filibuster the whole of experience.
With more than a million million watchtower blue-dime stars,
what thief could filibuster the One Great Poem.
I offer up fresh seafood, white raincoats, Frank O’Hara’s
“At Kamin’s Dance Bookshop.”
A shoe-lack knot, eyeglasses splattered with blood.
The Weddell Sea, the Beaufort Sea, all the mosques between Gaza
& the Sunset Strip.
Xian––most renowned of China’s six ancient capitals, 100 horses,
yellow lip-rings, a green pager.
Hidden assumptions of how journalists frame public perception.
Mental slavery, compact laser disc video game boy Data Barons
& their Museums of On-Line Genocide Delirium Art.
Those who keep scrapbooks of abortion clinic storm troopers,
White House bombers, the Fugitive President.
Dried grass heaped together & burned on hazy afternoons.
The way deaf people look at leaves.
Radishes & lemons, the blink of neon donut stands.
A boy covered with butterflies floating on green clouds
enlaced in the trembling brown ink of silence––
When I turn & look in, the One Great Poem goes always
onward at dusk, past empty nests.
Against the sides of muletail & bluestem, sometimes
crouched low like a coyote in the east.
Like a rising moon that follows the crystal lit grotto’d
sweatlodge of night.
Troubled planets, laid off, sitting numb in Television
Universe––you contribute here.
How many Milky Ways left on drawing boards undone.
Crumbling rings, junkyards of galaxies compacted.
Homeless black holes with lesions purplish & cruel.
Eternity unshaven, old newspapers in his coat, mumbling
in Astral Gutter.
All the Passing Through passing through the passing
through of the One Great Poem.
Not an Infomercial about the thighs of big government, the
liposuction of the Common Good.
Not about Virtual America, Democratic Euthanasia Vistas.
What purpose technologic appliance if only to speed-fax anger,
to digitalize rage?
No tumors upon humanity, frogs, swarms of flies, murrain upon
cattle, locusts upon the barley & flax in bloom.
No Oswiecium where So Many left behind only the smell of their
A wanderer among you, the One Great Poem will never cease.
How sweet the flesh that touches the sacred, the same sacred
I also touched.
You who reported of elves, of Autocrtats buried in quicksand,
buried with clay armies––
The stones in the river they are myself, the magician
with talking severed head on a plate.
The World’s Largest Office Party, the little home for a
caterpillar in a cassette case.
The music pushing itself back into the crimson piano.
Gregory Corso’s lost manuscript Who Am I––Who I Am
from Chelsea Hotel, 1974.
A gnashing of states drowned, where no one hears the sobbing.
Nor the burning of the Wheel of fire, the One Great Poem.
Nothing ever is or can be lost nor ever die.
The Great Poem joins you on snowfield at treeline, joins
you barefoot along secluded riverbank edge.
Corner of all that shows & all that shows not––a dogwood’s
shadow, cardinal in the oaks, Paris in April.
A crisis job interview, alone in almond orchard chewing grape
bubble gum in the rain at dawn.
Women without breasts, golden cities of tomorrow.
Any limited judgment of the realness of the feeling of Self,
the Selfness of others.
All that is non-existent, joined by the One Great Poem.
And what if writing suddenly appears on the sun, would it
say you are always traveling––
You who wanted to feel the world from outside Paradise,
yet higher than ruins & pyramids.
Higher than all the Floods, all the Ys ever spoken
piled on top of one another.
Higher than all the songs of each extinct animal note for note.
Than a billion world Trade Centers stacked on end,
than Monolithic State & Monolithic gods.
Than the Doors of Night where the prophets break in,
“Truth scored on their palms.”
Great Poem, you are a raven, a name spelled backwards,
a clock with no face.
You are all that is underneath the earth, the burning magma furnace
Core that greases Time’s gears.
Your year’s like an angel flying through a steel wall
heavy with violets & antelope & rootbeer.
Your stanzas weep like crickets on lightning bolts in joy’s
ruby-bone-box painted skeleton heart.
One Great Poem, when I turn & look in I see grey wolves
Ash remains in spring ponds, drinking fountains, lunch counters bare.
Island of Stone, four chords of thunder, Wise Neanderthal mother &
father on forced Hunger Strike.
A one-armed poolshark chalking his cue.
When I turn & look in I see the sad beautiful radios of linen rooms &
mail rooms & laundry rooms & boiler rooms.
That is how I found out I was exactly like you &
How much longer before you attempt the dreams of your heart?
As you wait for Liberation, report on it––surrounded by bodyguards,
holding a blown-up satellite phone.
You, on Very Dangerous Street, Very Dangerous Bridge,
you on Very Dangerous City Square.
With a tag on your smooth tiny wrist among fallen electricity wires,
ruptured pipelines spewing gas.
As you Spook the public, as you veto the peace, as you sweep up
around an automobile riddled with holes.
As you detonate yourself to Kingdom Come, as they scrape your flesh
off the boulevard.
As a child fills herself with watermelon seeds, thinking she’ll
grow watermelon vines inside her.
As a small boy wonders what it’s like to be a male ladybug.
Each is filled with the One Great Poem, slim & graceful as a deer
in the nakedness of the land.
In the nakedness of Taskmasters’ mortar & straw.
Naked with the story of Water, the naked bitterness of water,
bitter water we cannot drink.
The sweet Naked kiss of Water against your lips.
When you feel what dies within dying & you let it die
this too is the One Great Poem.
when you feel the Wind that shattered the rocks around
Elijah’s cave & Milarepa’s cave.
In your Revelation, as you lift back the Veils, especially
those who have given up their Quest.
Those who emerge with no answer at all, defeated by
storms without end.
Wondering if the Always Being Born & Everywhere
Married to Emptiness, this too, who you are is hiding there.
Between the orange solitudes of lineage & the jasmine solitudes
of burial move on, take the name you give yourself.
Even & upright, the Mind abides nowhere, in a quiet series
of haiku, in future scrolls.
With them on the Ship of Cyberfools.
& they who with cybersorrow drift the cyberstreets.
23 January 1995
Spoken word version from Walking thru Hell Gazing at Flowers.
Copyright © 1996 by Jim Cohn.
Text from The Dance Of Yellow Lightning Over The Ridge (Writers & Books Publications).
Copyright © 1998 by Jim Cohn.