Ah, Allen, you gave America a new shape & now you've lost yours
long accomplished road it was from the bridge o'er Paterson Falls
San Francisco's Six Gallery, Prague's May King, Pentagon exorcisms,
Iron Horse, Chicago '68, Jessore Road, Rolling Thunder,
Flats, cosmopolitan greetings from NYC's East 12th street,
to heaven, the
bardo, a grasshopper, a gray void, the place where all things
and fair descend, the end of sufferingwherever you are,
most curious place in the universe.
Yesterday in your new Lower East Side
loft, I held a clear plastic bag
your ashes inside, fine off-white powder, only a few small bone
visible, boxed inside last Buddhist shrine.
O those armor-piercing eyes will
look out tender photogenic skull no more!
What happens to us? When did we
begin taking this trip from energetic
beings traveling the world for democratic freedoms
to old-age liver cancer bodies lying softly on hospital
cots near busy city
searching one last glimpse of old friends & sidewalk lovers,
life's last energies to finding new ways to breathe?
Why the hell did we accept
this ancient bargain? When did we sign
horrific contract for a few mere decades of joy?
Well, you were always
discovering a new breath, a new spiritus, a
now millions across the globe are chanting OM
in your honor,
now you've joined Shelley's children of light, become a portion
which once your presence made more so.
But, Allen, how you hung in there!
How you gave them hell over four
How you bowled over Howl's critics piercing thy innocent breast!
you practiced sanity, candor, intelligence, kindness and boundless
as your weapons!
How you mixed humor and information, utopian yearnings and
How you extended and subverted literary traditions in the most interesting
never tired of formal inventiveness!
How you revealed the academy's shower-curtain'd
secret: poetry could
relevant to our lives!
How you taught all nations' youth to dig through the
How you were expelled from Prague & erased off primetime radio!
How you showed that a lone human voice well-honed and courageous
challenge a multinational corporate bureaucracy!
How you became the Unacknowledged
Cold War America!
Allen, you made me laugh a New Aware Laughter for 20
years I knew
work and you.
I don't think you would have remembered where we met.
Shot & I were sitting, 57 Guilden Street, New Brunswick porch,
fall afternoon 1976, awaiting your night's event.
A cab pulled up to Kevin
Hayes' apartment across street, you hurried out,
cardboard boxes from trunk
your father's manuscripts stored years at
Rutgers' Alexander Library.
We went to helpyour friendliness astonished,
I'd just read Song
Myself & Howl first time & decided try poetry
of your last poems you asked for remembrances like this
With Danny &
Kevin, I drove you back to Manhattan that night, you
out empty food wrappers & newspapers from my
then took us on a radical automobile tour of historic East Village.
Months later, you answered letters Danny & I sent, took ten lines of my
cross-outs, exclamation points, a few words,
reading list, taught my first poetry lesson
the postcard Danny'd received
weeks earlier still implanted in memory
line shd have wit, humor, imagery, perception, double-meaning,
new way of seeing or Poesy in it.
In 1980, I apprenticed with you July at
Naropain '82, you gave poems
funds to help Danny & I launch Long Shot magazine,
you encouraged my
poems the next fifteen years
even after that 1986 early morning Naropa
panel where, hungover
nervous, I called some of your famous poetfriends crazy.
These last two weeks,
thousands of poets in dozens of countries have
tales of your meetings,
Allen, you were loyal & generous to friends & future
Lucky for the planet your words live on
Lucky for those
not yet born Holy Soul Jelly Roll! still carries your baritone voice,
blues & holy celebrations grab onto mind's lining and refuse to let go,
meditative consciousness sits a crosslegged raven on our shoulders
we scribble odes & design activist modes,
urging us to write what we saw &
rally out of kindness.
What a beautiful new loft you bought, how sad death
arrived just a few
after you moved in: high ceilings, room for your office and
clean kitchen for macrobiotic scrapings, wallspace to frame all
two bathrooms, bookcases galore, prophetic volumes lining shelves from
hardwood floor how many hundreds of feet up to the soul's
Oh Allen, you've finally joined Walt's side amid the enduring dead,
be all bad?
now you can forget daily terrors, quit worrying which nation's
CIA will topple during new terms of presidential denial,
which activist friends
will be jailed, which youthful heads will bleed from
Square Chicago L.A. Moscow Peking police nightstick,
landlords' eviction armies will helicopter next.
Like Blake's Los you gave
form to Human Error, Moloch the heavy judge,
devouring ghost lingering a quarter million years,
Capital's skeleton sweeping homeless off the street,
now it's up to those
with flesh on bones to tame our monsters, inside and
to carry your sexy wheel of syllables into peaceful battle
for the next millenium.
Death's phantom steeds have taken one more wondrous
wisest soul of all our days and landsto who knows where?
be the cosmic mystery,
Extoled the enlightened fire which outlives the initial
Exalted the echo which rebounds through the universe,
these tears, the tears on cheeks of millions who touched your soft
your glowing aura, your living voice, your ink'd page, your
Allen, you tired your heart lungs liver running years up a zillion
lower Manhattan stairs
I don't know what happens after deathjust
that whatever's been written
Wherever you are now, I hope it has an elevator.