Hey Allen Ginsberg Where Have You Gone and What Would You Think of My Drugs?

By Rachel Zucker b. 1971 Rachel Zucker
listen, a bad thing happened to
my friend’s marriage, can’t tell you
only can tell my own story which
so far isn’t so bad:

“Dad” and I stay married. so far.
so good. so so.

But it felt undoable. This lucky life
every day, every day. every, day.

(all the poetry books the goddamn same
until one guy gets up and stuns the audience.)

Joe Wenderoth, not by a long shot
sober, says, I promised my wife I wouldn’t fuck
anyone to no one in particular and reads a poem
about how Jesus had no penis.

Meanwhile, the psychiatrist, attractive
in a fatherly way, says, Libido question mark.

And your libido?
like a father, but not like mine, or my sons’—

fix it.

My friend Nathan’s almost written
a good novel, by which I mean finished,
which means I’d like to light myself
on fire—this isn’t “desire,”
not what the Dr. meant
by libido?

                                          I hope—

not, it’s just chemical:
              jealousy. boredom. lethargy.

Books with prominent serifs: their feet feet feet I am
marching to the same be—


than the neuronic slave I thought anxiety made me
do it, made me get up and carry forth, sally
the children to school the poems dragged
by little hands on their little serifs
to the page, my marriage sustained, remaining
energy: project #1, project #2, broken
fixtures, summer plans, demands met, requests
granted, bunny noodles with and without cheesy
at the same time, and the nighttime, I insomnia
these hours penning invisible letters—

                          till it stopped.

doc said: It’s a syndrome. You’ve got it,

It’s chemical,
circuitry, we’ve got a fix for this
classic, I’m saying I can

make it better.

Everything was the same, then,
but better.

At night I slept.
In the morning got up.

Kids to school, husband still a fool-
hardy spirit makes
me pick a Monday morning fight, snipe! I’ll pay for that
later I’m still a pain in the
elbow from writing prose those shift+hold+letter,
I’m still me less sleepy, crazy, I suppose
less crazy-jealous just
haha now at Jesus’ no penis
amazed at the other poet’s kick-ass
friend’s novel I dream instead about
the government makes me put stickers
on my driver’s license of family members
who are Jews, and mine all are. Can they get us
all? I escape with a beautiful light-haired man,
blue-eyed day trader, gentile.

                                                     (( gentle, gentle, mind encased in its
                                                     blood-brain barrier from the harsh skull
                                                     sleep, sleep and sleepy wake and want
                                                     to sleep and sleep a steep dosage—

                                                                      “—chemical?” ))

in my dreams now every man’s mine, no
problem, perhaps my mind’s a little plastic,
malleable, not so fatal now

the dose is engineered like that new genetic watercress
to turn from green to red when planted over buried
mines, nitrogen dioxide makes for early autumn,
red marks the spot where I must
watch my step, up one half-step-dose specific—

The psychiatrist’s lived in NY so long
he’s of ambiguous religion—
everyone’s Jewish sometimes—
writes: “Up the dosage.”

                                                (( now,
                                                when I’m late I just shrug
                                                it’s my new improved style
                                                missed the train? I tug
                                                the two boys single file

                                                the platform a safe aisle
                                                between disasters, blithely
                                                I step, step, step lively
                                                carefully, wisely

                                                I sing silly ditties
                                                play I spy something pretty-
                                                for a little city fun

                                                just one way to enjoy life’s
                                                trials, mile after mile, lucky
                                                to have such dependable feet

                                                you see, the rodents
                                                don’t frighten I’m calm
                                                as can be expected to recover
                                                left to my own devices I was
                                                twice as fast getting everywhere but where
                                                did that get me but, that inevitable location
                                                more waiting, the rats there scurry, scurry, a furry
                                                till the next train comes— ))

“Up the dosage.”

Brown a first-cut brisket in hot Dutch oven
after dusting with paprika. Remove. Sauté
thickly sliced onions and add wine (sweet
is better, lasts forever, never need a new bottle).
Put the meat on onions, cover with tomato-sauce-
onion-soup-mix mixture, cover. Back in low oven
many hours.

This year, I’ll be better;
trying to get out of Egypt.

The house smells like meat.
My hair smells like meat.

I’m a light unto the nation.

Joseph makes sense of the big man’s dreams, is saved,
saves his brothers those jealous boys who sold him
sold them all as slaves. Seven years of plenty. Seven
years of famine. He insomnias the nights counting up
grains, storing, planning, for what? They say throw
the small boys in the river (and mothers do so). Smite
the sons (and fathers do it). God says take off your shoes,
this holy ground this pitiful, incombustible bush.

Is God chemical?
Enzymatic of our great need to chaos?

We’re unforgivable. People of the salted
cheeks. Slap, turn, slap.

To be chosen is to be
en, always chosen:
be better.

The Zuckers are a long line of obsessives.

This served them well in wartime saw it
coming in time that unseeable thing they
hoarded, they ferried, schemed, paced, got the hell
out figured out at night, insomnia, how to visa—

now, if it happens again, I won’t be

I’m “better.”

The husband, a country club Jew from Denver,
American intelligentsia, will have to carry me out
and he’s no big man and I’m
not a small girl how fast . . .

can the doctor switch the refugee gene back on?

How fast can I get worse? Smart again and worse?

It is better to be alive than better.

. . . Listen: says the doctor, Sleep isn’t death.
All children unlearn this fear you got confused
thought thinking was the same as—
Writes: “Up the dosage.”

Don’t think. this refugee thing part
of a syndrome fear of medication of being better . . .

Truth is, the anti-obsessional medicine works
wonders and drags me through life’s course.

Light unto the Nation.

About this time of year but years ago
the priests spread rumors of blood libel.
Jews huddled in basements accused
of using Christian babes’ blood
to make unleavened bread.

Signs and wonders.
Christ rises.

Blood and body and babes.
Basements and briskets
and bread of afflictions.

[I] am calm now with my pounds of meat
made and frozen, my party schedule, my pills
of liberation, my gentile dream-boy, American
passport, my gray-haired psychiatrist, my blue-
eyed son, my brown-eyed son, my poems on their
pretty little fleet-feet, my big shot friends, olive-skinned
husband, my right elbow on fire: fire inside deep in the nerve
from too much carrying and word-mongering, smithery, bearing
and tensing, choosing to be better to live this real life this better orbit this Jack

Kerouac never loved you like you wanted—

Only Jesus and that’s his shtick,
he loves

everyone: smile! that’s it,
for the camera, blood pressure
normal, better, you’re a poster child
for signs and wonders what a little chemistry
does for the brain, blood, thoughts, hey,

did you know that Pharaoh actually wanted
to let them go? those multitude Jews
but God hardened Paraoh’s heart against them [Jews]
to prove his prowess, show his signs, wonders, outstretched
hand, until the dosage was a perfect ten and then
some, sea closing up around those little chariots
the men and horses while women on the far shore shook
their tambourines. And then what?

                                                            Forty years
to get the small slavery off them.

Because of this. Bloody Nile. My story
one of the lucky. Escaped hatch even from
my own obsess—

                                         I am here because of this.
Because of what my ancestors did for me to tell this
story of the outstretched hand what it did for me this
marked door and behind this red-marked door, around
a corner a blue-eyed boy waits to love me up with his
leavened bread, his slim body, professional detachment,
medical advancments, forgive me my father’s mother’s
father was the last in a long line of rabbis—again! with this? This
rhapsody of affliction and escape, the mind bobbing along
in its watery safe. Be like everyone. Else. Indistinguishable but
better than the other nations. But that’s what got us into this, Allen,
no one writes these long-ass poems anymore. Now we’re
better, all better. All Christian. Kind.

Rachel Zucker, “Hey Allen Ginsberg Where Have You Gone and What Would You Think of My Drugs?” from Museum of Accidents. Copyright © 2009 by Rachel Zucker. Reprinted by permission of Wave Books.

Source: Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009)

 Rachel  Zucker


Poet and educator Rachel Zucker was born in New York and grew up in Greenwich Village, the daughter of novelist Benjamin Zucker and storyteller Diane Wolkstein. She earned her BA at Yale University and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Zucker’s expansive yet lyrical poems interrogate and deftly turn on intersections of the domestic and global. In a review of Museum of Accidents (2009), Boston Review critic Stephen Burt . . .

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