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  Poetry


Did You Hear?


Omaha, Nebraska | April 6, 1997
From the unpublished collection: These Vicissitudes of the Epithelium

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Did you hear?
Allen Ginsberg Died Yesterday?

Did you hear?
did you read in the paper today?
that Allen Ginsberg died yesterday?
who will take up the cause tomorrow?
what angelheaded hipster?
“Counterculture Poet Ginsberg Dies

At Age 70”

“...terminal liver cancer...”

“Beat Generation Poet Allen Ginsberg

Dead”

“...a fatal heart attack...”

Burroughs, I may have understood,
but I never expected Ginsberg to be dead...
reading the Omaha World Herald in Denny's with Mike,
listening to the old couple next to us
(he going deaf)
“I can't hear you, Martha!” (he getting upset)
“that table is standing there, dirty,
they haven't cleaned it up, yicky!
...in about 5 minutes I'm going to walk out of here!”
(she murmuring, quietly, quietly)
while my mind and eyes focus over the
clouds, cold in the sky over Omaha
remembering...

Ginsberg and Glass
on stage
(he squirming, writhing as he chanted)

a feeling of loss,
of emptiness
who could take up the angelheaded hipster's cause?  who will hold America accountable for its evil?  who will expose the lies and the ugliness?  who will assume compassion?
meanwhile...

the world sinks into civil war,
Zaire, Rwanda, Palestine,
the former Yugoslavia
people can't wait to kill each other
Rwandans dying at a rate of “120 a day”
North Korea posturing aggressively
Cambodian boys “boxing” to sell snake oil
an oil spill near Japan
Lake Aral in Uzbekistan not so slowly drying up
dying, dying, dying
the Arctic ozone layer decreased by “15-25%”
last year
Death is in the air
everywhere you look around
who will witness this death and dying?
the hypocrisy of right-wing senators
bemoaning the abortions of “the unwanted, the inconvenient”
meanwhile...abort welfare
abort human decency
abort the care of the ill, the unwanted living
abort all these inconveniencies , the poor, the criminal

meanwhile...
who will witness our best minds
being torn to shreds by our aborted government?
who will be able to say:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness?” (Allen Ginsberg)

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