Historical Disquisitions

By Philip Whalen 1923–2002 Philip Whalen
Hello, hello, what to tell you was
The world's invisible
You see only yourself, that's not the world
                although you are of it

Are you there

    hello
    why do you have your head in a sack?
    a roony-bomb dream tank?

    Why you got a banana in your ear?

You where?

                Brown eyes they see blue sky

                The world imagines you
                Figure it's a planet

                                              You hear?

                an obscure star in the middle

Once you were pleasure-milk and egg

                  Were you there

Now you are eggs of milk between your legs
   
                  Are you there

“I am situated somewhere near the rim of a fairly large galaxy   
which is one of a group of same & outside of which a   
considerable number take their way at incredible speeds &   
apparently in the opposite direction...”

    You are a wish to squirt pleasantly
    You want a lot of things & they are nice & you imagine
    They are you and therefore you are nice
    You are a wish to be here
    Wishing yourself
                                  elsewhere

“Hello. Try to talk some sense even if you
don't think any
It is history
                   (your mistake: “History WAS”)
                                                                now

                                           *

History an explanation of why I deserve what I take

                                           *

History an explanation of why I get what I deserve

                                           *

    (Through more or less clenched teeth):
    “How can you sit there & look at the faces
    you see in Montgomery Street wiped blank
    from selling whatever brains they got faces
    in 3rd Street blank from facing a lathe all day
    & TV all night African tromped-on faces Asiatic
    hunger faces Washington war-masks & smile at me
    about how after all this is a Moral Universe
    gives me the screaming jumping meemies I thought
    you were bright enough had enough work-experience
    yourself to have some faint idea of...”

                                           *

hello.
    “THE WIND RATTLES THE WINDOW I CAN'T
    SLEEP FRIDAY NIGHT IS VERY LARGE IN SAN
    FRANCISCO THE LOWER CLASSES GET PAID ON   
    FRIDAY & GET ON THEIR WAY TO SPEND IT IN
    UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS CLIPJOINTS THEY CLAIM
    AREN'T TOURIST TRAPS THE UPPER CLASSES ARE
    LUSHED OUT OF THEIR HEADS DOWN IN PEBBLE
    BEACH SUCKING EACH OTHER'S & WILL SKIP THE
    SHRINKER MONDAY HE'S GAY HIMSELF THE
    SILLY SON OF A BITCH AS LONG AS I'M NOT OUT
    HUSTLING SAILORS ON MARKET STREET & ONLY
    WHEN I'M LUSHED OUT ON MY OWN PREMISES
    (FOR WHICH I PAY EXCESSIVELY HIGH TAXES)

                   I DON'T CARE”

   “The middle classes the middle class is mainly from out of   
town (that's what I like about San Francisco everybody's either
up or down) they come & look at us they go away puzzled where
they remain,
               outclassed...
                                 (they will fight the Rooshuns &c.
                     they will fight the gooks & wogs & chinks &
                     japs & niggers & commies & catholics & wall
                     street & any man that tries to tell them
                     different...)”

“The upper class don't bother me a bit except
why do they let themselves be buffaloed into
hiring the creepy managers they do? Faceless men to
represent a legal fiction? The upper
well, the...”


                     “UPPER CLASSES ARE HARMLESSLY IMBE-
CILE THE CLASSES PRETEND NOT TO EXIST (&   
VERY NEARLY CAN'T, OUTSIDE OF JAIL) THE MIDDLE   
CLASS MANAGER MERCHANT BANKER PROFESSIONAL   
PROFESSIONAL THE SOLID (IT'S THE CHEESE THAT   
MAKES IT BINDING) CALVINISTFREUDIAN DEMOC-
RACY SWELLS

                        & B L O S S O M S ! ”

    TERMINAL LUES ACROSS THE SHOULDERS   
                     OF THE WORLD

“The Roman Empire went to hell when the Romans bought them-
selves a goon-squad; bankrupted themselves trying to enforce moral
and sumptuary laws...”

                                  History's now

Philip Whalen, “Historical Disquisitions” from The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen copyright © 2007 by Brandeis University Press and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. www.wesleyan.edu/wespress

Source: The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan University Press, 2007)

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Poet Philip Whalen 1923–2002

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Class

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Philip Whalen is often labelled a "Beat poet" because he enjoyed his first creative achievement during the years when Beat literature thrived. As an ally and confidant of the major figures of the Beat Generation—and as a significant poet in his own right—Whalen is generally considered one of the pioneering forces behind the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the mid-1950s. The author's work differs from much Beat writing in its . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Class

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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