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






Let River Move Us

Crown of Small Songs




The geese are painting the sky with a V, my lord

The Mississippi laughs with its white teeth

How fast winter flees from the lowland, my lord

And how’s the highland where songs forever seethe?


At the confluence, I sing of the prairie, my lord

My joy and sorrow soar with rolling spring

Its thunder half bird, half mermaid, my lord

No poppies on hills, only ghost warriors’ calling


Today is chunfeng—share of spring, my lord

Two spirits, one on phoenix wings, one on lion’s seat

Across the sea, kindred spirits, my lord

Prayer through breaths, laughing children on the street



Let’s open our gift, acorn of small things

Let river move us without wants or needs  






for Robert Bjorgum


Let river move us without wants or needs  

Let cycads carry their fruit in naked seeds


No flower to adorn your heart, roots pulling

Food from sand, stones. What magic in your seed


White flesh burns the nerves of the ignorant

What desire or love wedged in your coned seed?


Along colored veins—Age of Cycads—rings

Of truths. In your dried palm, an open seed


Naked to sun and moon, herbivores’ teeth carry

You across the chasm. In the crown, a seed


Running from pole to pole—the Sea was one

Body, unhinged, spewing lava into your seed


You’re not shadows from Permian of China

Look at this beauty––so simple in your agate seed





Look at this beauty-so simple in your agate seed

A blue jay calls from the river’s blue mouth

What runs from a roof, flows to the East Sea?

What winds towards north, then spills into South?


Last night on the highland, snow and rain

Winter’s muddy feet drag behind spring's fawn

In the valley, sounds of a whooping crane

A wheel barrow, copper etched by the dawn


The river has broken the rein of ice

Taking boulders, trees, teeth of dams…swirling

To the waists of cottonwoods, oaks, grilles, spice

Who can stop her riding on eagles’ wings?


Truth can’t be drowned in books or winner’s lie

Moon on river’s bend, long day of mayfly





Moon on river’s bend, long day of mayfly

No sound or word from Damascus’ desert

Limestone ridge along Silk Route—face of Dubai

Crumbles—wind in hyssop, thyme, wild mustard


This flayed land, so raw, parched, only seeds fly

To take roots in the conquerors’ footprints

Dusk weeps like sand through hands, pulling first cry

From Azan’s throat, a black slave as god’s imprints


Home under the ash cloud, darting swallows

From hospitals, roses on broken walls

Tanks at the border. Shadows at ghettos

Remorse in maze—the last muezzin calls


The Dervish whirls, palm to earth, palm to sky

Who gave us the hand to feel your sublime?





Who gave us the hand to feel your sublime?

Which hunter caught the fire in the bird's eye?

My lord, your falcon leads the path of ice and fire

The gate is open for those chosen to climb


The volcano came alive this morning

Glaciers slide into the womb of the earth

How do you stop a heart from trembling

As ice cuts into the fire of new birth


Along the wind path, Knight of thousand hearts

In the East Sea, Maiden of thousand hands

Mist wraps the islands and your boat of glass

The horse calls his master from distant lands


The warrior draws his sword from Arthur's Seat

How do you keep the same, back from the deep?





In Memory of Jan…


How do you keep the same, back from the deep?

Dripping preserve, the brain sits in gloved hands

All cells are programmed to die—your leap

Of faith, dimpled behind silvery strands

So beautiful, your great love…What’s matter?

Breath, ladybug on a sunbathed window

Maverick at crossroad, fish jumping river…

Is mind matter? The heart, seat of joy and sorrow

Holds stubborn cells. Outside the funeral

Light ripples across sky and prairie grass

Something has taken us by the visceral

A crowd of spirits behind the darkly glass


Immortality kills us in the first place

Our heart keeps beating at its own pace





In collaboration with Ryan


To die and live again--this constant change

Our heart just keeps beating at its own pace

Fear, anger, sorrow—storms beyond our range

The river bows and bends, birthing new space


Veins of water across the delta wrist, opening

Cupped hands...fish, reeds, frogs mating in puddles

Home... where cranes stop for a drink, then rising

Back to their birthplace. The spirit shuttles


Between heaven and earth—how you follow

This primordial path? The brain, a wrinkled mass

Keeps us at bay, eyes on the black swallow

From distant sea...messenger through tall grass



Memory split from the Fountain of Youth

You hold us to the place–– this beat, this truth





You hold it to this place–– this beat, this truth

Wild turkey for guests, yam in sweet rice stuffing

Peacock dance, flamenco hands, sorghum spirits soothe

Strayed ghosts. In China, there’s no Thanksgiving

Good words flow from glass to glass. Ten thousand geese

In the sky, ten thousand whales from north to south

Sounds of flute, a pining soul no one can appease

A lover turned into a stone at the river’s mouth

A crazed mother, crying for her burst bubble

Breaths of taichi, circling with phoenix flows

What arrows can silence your fire? A true singer

Soars over the cawing of ten thousand crows


We feed ghosts to kill an inherited shame

Nobody claims rivers at the endgame





No one claims rivers at the end of game

Swans trumpet from Head of the Mississippi

Along the trails—snow, dogs, woodpeckers––same

Difference as children slide with whoopee

Laugh, and rivers rumble like summer nights

On sandstone bluffs, lovers watch crew boats dart

Like insects. Walking on water is not a sleight

Of hands but an instinct, echoes of distant stars

And sturgeons charging without food or sleep

Keep going, says the master, one stroke at a time

Breathe between waves…his voice steep

from tumors, yet he stands, furious and sublime



What arrow points us to grace, here and now?

A swan’s touch, neck bending into a bow





A swan’s touch, neck bending into a bow

A storm without premonition: pines, oaks, alders

Ancient dreams––snapped at the waist, chopped trailers

All the trees that should have been down are down

Said Ranger Bob, his oars dipping like wings of falcon

In the river, mussels lure for hungry fish, shooting eggs

Into their gills—teeth to hang on, and legs

To go home. The St. Croix unfolds a silk ribbon

Our boat cuts--no sound of humans--only turtles bathing

On rocks, and horseflies that take chunks of meat!

Our breath moves with the damsel flies—their wings

Of butterfly, neon turquoise & black so sweet


We raise our oars to follow summer flood

The river runs through us—our kin, our blood





In Memory of Todd


The river runs through us—our kin, our blood

Big Dipper, solar winds, life in tannin earth


From Solon Spring to Prescott, 250 miles of flood

We follow clams, milkweeds…odes from same birth


We skid rapids glittered with gold—the stars girth

Our napes. Namekagen, home for sturgeon dreams


Mahnomen—berries for fish, loons, our daily hearth

Spirits of Minnesota, Wisconsin… In salty streams


We turn boats with boils and eddies, our screams

Echoed by thrushes, tents full of stubborn


Mosquitoes, thunders, yet when coffee steams

Through the rain, and mist ties the river into a ribbon


We sit, and the world within begins to unravel

As each blade of grass turns with its angel





Every blade of grass turns with its angel

Every breath we make churns your heartbeats

A child becomes Father’s man in the cradle

A wave is a wave is a wave regardless our defeats


A lie bends and bends around the purple night

At twilight the mask unveils a scorched soul

A cycle of 64 days of riches from the scorpio kite

The way is open, then shuts with a gaping O


The hammer, anvil and stirrup, the smallest bone

In the sea of cochlea, a spiral, a million fingers

Brushing ecstasy to the seat of throne

A ripple is a ripple is a ripple forever seeking the seekers


This is the gift I owed you from future and past

This is my eye—blindly—in the river wild and fast





For Chen Guangcheng, the Blind Lawyer from China


This is my eye—blindly—in the river wild and fast

Through the steely gaze, towards a promised freedom


Rumors storm, back and forth, between ocean currents

Machines clank to grind a small man’s plea for freedom


Not for asylum or paradise, not for money or fame

All I want is a room in this giant country, a freedom


To take children to school, to guide my sisters out

Of the maze, free to be mothers again, free


To raise the young, grow old in peace, a place where

Hunger, prison or death can’t blackmail freedom


Where the poor, the blind, the colored, the small

Can live in dignity and joy. Freedom is never free


Must pave with eyes, ears, hands…brick by brick

With a heart willing to bleed till it breaks free





A heart willing to bleed till it breaks free

The air drags daggers through nose, lungs, spleen

Across Duluth streets—flashflood, raging trees  

At Fort Collins, wrathful gods for our deeds

The spill sprayed with dispersants, black turned white

No flies would lay lava, rotten ships, reeds…

“We’re eatin their evidence!” shouts Waddle

Thrusting a shrimp with deformed brain, legs, seeds

All the blood wants is flowing to the heart

All the rivers dream is running to the sea

A thousand flags, a thousand hearts and hands

The road ends here, splits into a bird’s feet


Please forgive what we made with our greed

Let rivers move without our want or need





Let rivers move without our want or need

This beauty––so simple in its agate seed


Moon on river’s bend, long day of mayfly

Who gave us the hand to feel your sublime?


Our heart keeps beating at its own pace

Back from the deep, how do you keep the same?


You hold us to the place––this beat, this faith

Nobody claims rivers at the endgame


A swan’s touch, neck bending into a bow

The river runs through us—our kin, our blood


Every blade of grass turns with its angel

My eye—blindly—in the water wild and fast


A heart willing to bleed till it breaks free

My lord, the geese are painting the sky with a V



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