America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that jetplanes 1400 miles an hour and twentyfive-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they’re all different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor the Silk-strikers’ Ewig-Weibliche made me cry I once saw the Yiddish orator Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America its them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
Like all strangers who temporarily find themselves moving in the same direction we look out the window without really seeing or down at our phones trying to catch the dying signal then the famous lonesome whistle so many singers have sung about blows and our bodies shudder soon we will pick up speed and pass the abandoned factories there has lately been so much conversation about through broken windows they stare asking us to decide but we fall asleep next to each other riding into the tunnel sharing without knowing the same dream in it we are carrying something an empty casket somehow so heavy only together can we carry it over a bridge in the snow emerging suddenly into the light we wake and open our laptops or a book about murder or a glossy magazine though we are mostly awake part of us still goes on solving problems so great they cannot be named even once we have reached our destination and disembark into whatever weather for a long time there is a compartment within us filled with analog silence inside us the dream goes on and on
As movies seem to keep getting bigger and louder, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch still sets his own pace. In his latest, a bus driver makes his daily route through the streets of Paterson, New Jersey, taking in the stuff of everyday life to write poems. Jeffrey Brown talks with Jarmusch and poet Ron Padgett, who composed poems for the film.
The week after you died, Mom, you were in my checkout line, little old lady who met my stare with the fear, the yearning of a mortal chosen by a god, feeling herself change painfully cell by cell into a shadow, a laurel, you, a constellation.
the boys and i are playing quarters with double shots of vodka and i am winning. by winning i mean i am not one of the boys but i am the next best thing. by the next best thing i mean i am a girl and i am drunk. every time i miss a shot, johnny gets to flick a quarter against my knuckles and now my knuckles are bleeding onto my thighs but every time i make a shot i get to knock back a throat full of liquor. i slam down the glass until it cracks up the side and now the game is about who will still drink from it, who will risk shards in the belly, who will cut up their insides for a pack of newports and it’s not that i even want the cigarettes, it’s just that i am not afraid of blood which is also part of being a girl. but being the only girl means making yourself lose when you’ve won too much so i bounce the coin off the rim of the shot glass and let johnny slice me open. in thirty minutes, johnny is dragging me out of the bathroom by my wrists and i can hear him saying something about blood on the carpet, about a drunk girl in the house who is staining everything and i think that means i must be the champion of quarters. johnny is the kind of guy who sleeps with a gun, not women. but johnny is always the one inviting me over for a game of quarters and sometimes i wonder if this is how johnny fucks. like maybe he is the kind of man who only screams when he is underwater or lets me feel how strong his fingers are without actually touching me. maybe that’s why we’re all here, even the boys, to let johnny hold us like a barred window. i work a double one day a week and on this day, don’t answer johnny’s call. by one day a week i mean two men break in and shoot johnny in the temple for two-thousand pills and i am scraping pasta from a business man’s plate into the trash. at some point i’ll tell you why i didn’t go to the wake. i guess i never really knew johnny like that. by that i mean sober or in a church. when i say i didn’t go to the wake i mean i drove by his house everyday for two years and the for sale sign never got taken down like the house would always be johnny’s, like maybe the whole town knew what happened there. like maybe no one could get rid of the blood.
Now that it's over between me and Nature I like her better. We've given up senseless fear, useless hope. She's got herself together.
Just hanging on, but trim, surprising, capable, she shows, toward evening, some of the old flashes. If her solitudes, amazed and kind, can't be mine, or her gaze of waters stirs others, no harm done. She's on her own.
And don't misunderstand: it's not yearning, but the old courtesy of life for life, when sometimes, often, out for nothing, I stop for a minute to hear our songs high up, crossing.