H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






Urban Verses


Held by the city in this way:

sweet Sophie Mang the cowcat queen on

left white sofa arm

white cathair tumbleweeds

waft across 40s parquet

Italian chef Molto Mario Batali

on the right arm TV stand kneading pasta

[you know I can’t help but say

I ran into him one day on 6th ave.

a while ago and you know

he was a really nice guy

in a hurry, soiled chefcoat half-buttoned]


My own homemade pasta is

just as good as or Il Cena Colo

My ragu as sweet and savory

and it’s Wednesday to boot

 whatever’ spaghetti day

come get your macaroni and gravy —


Held in this way

the city glows it's steel edge

cuts through it’s own history

to immediate perfection

in every gray slice of life.




Woke my Reiki

on E. 21st St.

soft gummy bagel

was the worst of it

could I be the key

to wake it up in you?


Noisy bakery

Soft curl of almond smoke

imprisoned a la mode

within patterns on the back

of a croissant —


Wisdom books yellow and
universal symbols diminish

yet bad coffee can always be found

in some damp bodega cranny.


Reverse the polarity

and draw energy from this

grid – every itch being scratched

every lid trembling around it’s

brief dream.


Sophie curls tight in

an Amazon box

Empire State Building

casts a purplish glow

on her white fur.




Sun strobes on steering wheel

through silver winter branches;

drive to the Park & Ride, take the Bus (Buspirone á la Shortline)

try not to get on the wrong line

jungle ramp mimics Port Authority mad slow escalator grunt

gray suited apes swinging from

painted steel rafters

to vie for the window seat that

reclines properly.


On the other hand, again and again,

there’s the Palisades dysfunction to the West Side Hwy,

or the L.I.E. to Queens Midtown Tunnel

among other savage commute routes ever to rattle an axle,

Q104FM salvation a butter-salve for my

Hudson-Ganges infection

and tooth-gap Manhattan skyline pout

missing teeth caught in my throat

again and again —


Jimi jabs his axe into my guts

I rush decide to resign my package design IT job in Carlstadt

and take a more urban position

Fear up the spine on first day of work — sofa raconteur interruptus

Mind in flight broadcasts a mayday

Skycap oasis resonates like a Dodo

Rival men raze Troy as the schmatas fly

extinct as Ratners' herring on Sunday.


You turn up your collar and the music

in your very expensive chrome earbuds;

To work for a living at a job that fails to satisfy

is highly overrated

except the mortgage

says otherwise and Big Bank will wring you dry if you try to refi

so turn it up another notch

and pour me a double Gentlemen’s Jack

and sit back on the couch.


I think of Joe Roberto

biker friend lost on 9/11 in 1 World Trade

as I put my bike away

for another winter, dirty —

wonder what exactly he is missing really

in this city

in question now

as is this

elusive anxiety —


cured by a bagel with Nova and cream cheese

twice a day for 38 years!


Two dark squares in the concrete waterfall

as freedom tower skin’s applied

and we lift from our knees at the wall —


New York is it’s own antidote



Meanwhile, holiday cards still arrive

at 10048 phantom post office

for those ghosts that time and discount Bulk Rate

will not surrender.




Insurance, man,

insurance is what gets me

it just gets to me you know

insurance… man, it just gets to me

you know – you know insurance,

you never know they say

you never know when you’ll

need it but damn, insurance

that shit just gets to me
runs in the family.


Grandparents, father, all shunned it

not a penny maintained to sustain a legacy

after all these city streets were

paved with gold

mica flakes in dark concrete shone

so many little and big lies twinkled

there on the street

in between gum spots

and cigarette butts.


Concrete slabs wired to the teeth now

in Greeley Square.

They know your shoe size

and what you had for breakfast as you walk through

There are no guarantees

at ground zero.

Strange lights glow

from Korea-town



and I'm hanging on insurance, I'm just hanging

on insurance, hangin' on and layin' low, trying not to

anger the premium and further harass the underwriter.

Only undertakers triumph as children fall to assault rifles.

Bloomberg collects a gun a day so Mort Zuckerman can preen

his hat's half feather with a half-page feature.


Tempt the fortunes and fates to temporarily evacuate the superstorm

gravitas envelope descends and the Mayan calendar defends its apocalypse

in the face of subsistence existence being forced upon Brooklyn,

a tri-state tsunami decimates Staten Island and

mold emerges victorious.            

Only insurance separates the family

from it's home.


9/11 vets chorale around the christmas tree memorial

as bulldozers push their homes into mountains of

lost memories and identities.




Baked yet hardly awake

Farley post office lines are comet tail streams

among the façade scaffolds

and we are falling dust

little bits of citizens being found

in sewer grates day to day

years after the towers’ collapse —

gray steel wing flap lift, found like hidden faces at the foot of

a gray mosque alley trap, burned gray matters to ash, turned beards grayer

to sift old cells through the gray dust at Park Place —


That day — that day

so amazed at the goddamned fucking West Side Highway

a totally empty, mid-morning barren ribbon to oblivion


for a moment shocked to be alone in my escape


made it to the GWB in about 6 minutes

that day

rubbed my eyes

and the goddamn traffic reappeared again like magic!


The bridge was closed so I looped around on 9A and

when I hit it again it was open outbound only


Holy fucking shit I thought banging on the steering wheel


they will give a pilot’s license to just about anybody!


Holy fucking shit I cried

as I curled onto the empty Palisades


they will give a driver’s license to anyone

nearsighted or far

and anybody can

blow themselves up


but I swear

my brakes

and broken heart

are not the same

since my Palisades escape


that day —




Cannabis detox to climb

the job ladder scrubs old resin from brain

leaches from fat into pee

I jitter and fret, purge and sweat the interview

mannaquin pose stone face dictates your fate

we regret to inform you sir

but you are an old gray

pothead and cannot be trusted.’


So why not open a gourmet food market?

Maybe a rock shop or hobby depot?

stock Radio Shack electronics experiment kits

lots of stuff to solder together and shit;

this lapidary, poet-chef sings a gray blues,

slings sizzling hash in tune.

Cast your jones in the Harlem River

like a dark lure

and be in good company

the muck and mire

turns under and rolls out to sea;

learn now the ladder leads nowhere man

at least nowhere you want to be.


Gonna quit my job

oh yes, that’s what I’m gonna do

gonna quit and move uptown

to another job that I’m gonna

wanna quit too —


Alas, poor me — pulling 6 figures

& miserable as a chocolate chip cookie

on a china plate

everyone diabetic all around me

sick of me and by me too

and my spicy ham & egg on an onion roll.


Late for work and lovin’ it

cayenne pepper sauce on my moustache

later I will blow it burning out of my ass

and think of you

old thorn in my side for whom I sacrificed

my true Broadway calling;        

for a string of kiss-ass peon jobs for peanuts,

subtle doom and daily struggle,

keep up or fall

beneath the wheel

pay through the nose, skinned at the knee

given an arm and a leg,

a delirious amputee.


[This poetry is a rescue

from the death of all dreams.]




Craigslist monkey hoots his crazy beef,

‘Rants & Raves’ get really sad and lame;

the bargain you thought you gained on that USB board

turns sour when his UPS tracking number

is bogus as a purple dollar

and you want to put him in traction.

Your red face bleeds grief

for each and every ‘Missed Connection’

each plight as common

as an arcade token

bent in a jimmied slot.


The shakedown continues

as the streets of April

turn hot and the pickpockets

come out of hibernation

to twist their elbows into

finger hooks and hand blades —

squeeze into packed subway cars last on

to lift the cash you just made.




Brushed by on the street

by someone who

obviously knew

where they were going

so what” I say, they’re deluded

and we all share the same delusion

so it basically works


yet not too difficult to see through

chinks in the armor

dreams in the gutter

sour gust heads north to some suburb or another

runs in cheap nylon distracts you at the curb.


They put up a shiny new sign

at the corner hot table take out

and scraped off the

health dept. stickers —

still, you eye the black beans suspiciously;

desiccated pale parboiled bacon strips

and pre-prepared egg whites on a silver tray

like plaster frozen on a trowel

fail to appetize;

nuked on demand

for scary FIT undergrads

in very tight underwear

who always look like they’re arriving

at a goth picnic with a bag of melba toast.




Max Parrish photo barks from

wrought iron kiosk

mismanaged buildings crumble

and spark —


The furriers eat peanuts

and florists stack tulips

in long waxy boxes sporting windmills —

3 steps away

a homeless guy wretches

into a trash can —


Old bulldog squats

on a subway grate to poop

pink hairy dog boner

wags in R train wind —


Outside Mickey D’s

the guy makes unintelligible, snide comments to me

his stench combined with

greasy burger and bulldog shit

enough to make me

drop my Post

blanch pale & dizzy on

26th & 6th .


I swallow this tender weakness

this humanity

over and above all fragility


as it is left to us

and must be made

less hollow

like the icy wind that

gets under my gray wool coat

no surprise and yet        ~ oooohhh ~

to hold that poise,

an instrument for winds

that race down 7th Ave.

is to crack the monster minor 7th

of these blues;

smell burger and

turn corner

back to the wind

and a

brighter step.


Evening walk destination: 34th st. Herald Towers apt.

in old Hotel McAlpin

where 50 years earlier my father had his first

secret dates with my mom

upon whom the disapproving 50s could

find no hold,


when the city was a mere 7.7 million of us

in line with debonair ruffian Lindsay

pre doom and gloom — in between the waves

of chaos, tide of grey coats rising

toward Penn Station.




Two pigeons peck a kernel of

unpopped popcorn into traffic —

I ran over a white one the other day

puff of feathers

in the rear view — did a mantra

or two but I didn’t feel bad,

inured to daredevil pigeons that plunge

into midtown traffic —

Allen would say ‘open up to

   raw warriors heart! — HUM HUM HUM!’

   maybe someday I’ll listen.


Cooing from the window ledge

wakes me from a dead sleep

I walk downtown over

bouncing basement doors —

Rats dance in cardboard kitchens ankle deep.




Old webs bind me

into a numb chrysalis

await my rebirth

at some later re-emergence.

City’s insomnia

keeps one suspicious eye

on all who aspire

to change

or arrive to the party late.

Sirens chase us

back into blackened doorways

wings folded.

Taxi headlights are eyes

like gems that blink and flutter

with each pothole and metal road plate.

Steel trashcan of old lunchbags

bursts into flame

draws us out

into the night again

to attain

fractured flight

& pull free





Walk and call, traffic through Times Square slows to a crawl
sidestepping Mickey, Minnie, Mario and Buzz to get to the bus
tune out bible stumper Jesus-fuss and a hundred tourist cellphone cameras
clicking everywhere to capture that New York angle
only to paint targets on their own backs —

scammed on hot dogs and cab hacks' detour through rushhour park tangle.

Walk and call; even with “LOOK” epoxied into the street off the curb,

some cannot tear their eyes from their smartphones,

trucks and taxis growl down 8th Ave. — inches from impact.

So much more disaster is averted than we realize.


Need to wake this small mind from its charmed oblivion of steel and glass

and heal the cracked hearts and streets of the city; [Dai Koo Myo]

city that bleeds and rumbles and moans,

city where I was born and that I am proud to call my home.

I hear the low frequency rumble of echos buried deep below cobblestone.

I hear the bleat and blare of tragedy taking corners too fast

and pieces of desperate reasoned conversations that waft

from backpack cafes and alleyways, wisped thin as the job trail fades.


I am the first one in to work these days,

I eat lunch at my desk with one hand on the mouse to keep my seat.

Cracked economy keeps us walking and calling and not looking.

Held by the city, by the sonic, sacred, scarred and nascent city.

Walk and call and cut through the small talk —

Just walk or just call and that's all!


Mask of rage and fear please fall away

Let it complete, ease and dissipate

resolve into Maitri.

May work anxiety dissolve into “Just don’t know”.

May money fear release into “Just don’t care”.

May I someday stop hating my x-wife

she got hers, you got yours, everybody got theirs.

May those I love find their balance in life

Walk away from hate — numb and weepy

stoned or straight — nobody cares.

Walk with your heart on Earth's stellar shirtsleeve.

Everyone you meet is your rebellious child and mother

designed to be loved and tamed by giving wide berth.

Walk through Times Square whirlwind open-armed

stripped of pretension and innocent faith.

Walk to the corner of 42nd & 8th

and become enlightened by the 10,000 dharmas.

Till your ‘maters and your peppers like a good suburban farmer.

Walk 500 lives as a fox in a state of grace.

Walk as a child of illusion tempting fate.

Walk till you simply cannot walk any farther;

Time changes your face into stained glass

losing self — gaining self — it all comes ‘round again at last.

Walk ahead though you’d rather wait

or run & hide in the park like Jonah in the belly

of a great whale, lost in the gray noise spell.

Live in muddy water with purity like a lotus.

Let it all go and just be exactly as it is, block by block —


and sure enough the dark gray sky

opens up.



[Originally published in NHS 2013, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/_special_edition_nhs_2013/.]