A poem for vipers

By John Wieners 1934–2002 John Wieners
I sit in Lees. At 11:40 PM with
Jimmy the pusher. He teaches me
Ju Ju. Hot on the table before us
shrimp foo yong, rice and mushroom
chow yuke. Up the street under the wheels
of a strange car is his stash—The ritual.
We make it. And have made it.
For months now together after midnight.
Soon I know the fuzz will
interrupt, will arrest Jimmy and
I shall be placed on probation. The poem
does not lie to us. We lie under
its law, alive in the glamour of this hour
able to enter into the sacred places
of his dark people, who carry secrets
glassed in their eyes and hide words
under the coats of their tongue.
 
6.16.58

John Wieners, "A poem for vipers" from Selected poems, 1958-1984, published by Black Sparrow Books. Copyright © 1986 by John Wieners.  Reprinted by permission of the John Wieners Literary Trust.

Source: Selected poems, 1958-1984 (Black Sparrow Books, 1986)

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Poet John Wieners 1934–2002

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

Biography

Born in Boston, poet John Wieners received a BA from Boston College and studied at Black Mountain College with Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, and Robert Duncan. He later followed Olson, his mentor, to SUNY Buffalo. A Beat poet and member of the San Francisco Renaissance, Wieners was also an antiwar and gay rights activist. His poetry combines candid accounts of sexual and drug-related experimentation with jazz-influenced . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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