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New York to San Fran

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And the plane bobs
back & forth like
a boat at Kennedy

asphalt Space Station
glass buildings,

Taking off from Earth, to fly
the day after Stevenson did die
heart attacked on Grosvenor
Square’s July sunset
leafy calm.

And I — 
Om Om Om’ etc — 

repeat my prayers
after devouring the NY Post
    in tears — 

The radars revolve in their Solitude — ­
Once more o’er these states
Scanning the cities and fields
Once more for the Rockies, to look
down on my own spermy history — 

Once more the roar of Life Insurance
murmuring in the empty plane
5 hrs 20 min glimpse

The most beautiful Mantra, ‘Hari
Om Namo Shivaye — ’

And the vibration of Shiva
in my belly merges
with the groan of machine
flying into milky sky — 

If we should crash the flops of bloody
Skin won’t be singing
that sweet song — 

Once more the green puddles of
moss in the messy grey bay

once more wingtip lifting to the sun
& whine of dynamos in the
stunned ear,
and shafts of light on the page
in the airplane cabin — 

Once more the cities of cloud
advancing over New York — ­

Once more the houses parked like used
cars in myriad row lots — 

I plug in the Jetarama Theater
sterilized Earphones — ­
it’s wagner!

the ride of the valkyries!
We’re above the clouds! The
Sunlight flashes on a giant
Earth is below! The horns of
Siegfried sound gigantic in
my ear — 

The banks of silver clouds like mountain

I spread my giant green map
on the air-table — 

The Hudson curved below to the
floor-drop of the World,

Mountain range after mountain range,
Thunder after thunder,
Cumulus above cumulus,
World after world reborn,
in the ears with the Rhine
Journey brasses — 
Spacey Sublime
charges of Aether and Drumbeat
Ascending & Descending
the Empty Aeternitas, free — 

Click! over upper NY State
a witty guitar bumps with
pianos & drums — oops!
announcer! oops Peter Sellers
sounds breathing in ye ear
‘The Fleshpots! The Muckrakers!’

The little silver cow clouds flow
eastward under the wing,
the horizon’s a blue mug, there’s
green furze of forest naked &
unpioneered with little
strings of highway & houses
brown pendant — ­

Lakes with little bungalows — 
Once more it’s summer and the folks at
ease by their pastoral garages
reading the Journal American
Headline screams

100,000 more U S Troops to Vietnam
Adlai Flopped Dead Of Heart Attack On Sidewalk

and a cloverleaf to transport the family
    past the Electronic Gasworks — 
’Tis the LSD in the balmy upstate
Breeze seeping from Underground
Factory bank — 

Switch the channel!
Surf music, oolee!
Plunk of Hawaii, I can feel
the moons, all seven of them
rising over the Mauna Loas
of my Grammar School Decade — 

Orange moons, green moons,
blue moons, purple moons,
white moons sinking under wan waves,
Black moons over the lower
East Side
Red moons over China — 

Skipping along one by one,
bouncing over the cragged horizon
of Jupiter thru the
clip clop ethereal violin strings
and the violas running thru my
solar plexus,
they’re skipping down the
Hollywood streets in duck pants
and 1940s nylon skirts — 

It’s total Idiocy! a new song
from the tragic Fiji Island
love affair, a 30 year old
teenager weeping into her brassiere,
her boyfriend’s just sailed off
for Korea and left her
sobbing with orgasms
from the Bowery in W W I.

Them plunked guitars and
descending Melachrino
— Ugh!

In certain moods it cd / be
seductive, over the

wingtip it’s a Mediterranean
Blue approaching Cleveland (?)
hung with puffclouds &
Hawaiian guitars shining in
the sunlight — 

A children’s show! over the
low Catskills! Speaking in
a monstrous little voice,
Pyramus & Thisbe — Up here? — ­
The Lion’s part, ‘you may do
it extempore for it is nothing but
roaring — ’
Distracted from her ‘wide body
in the rain’ — I gotta smoke
some Hashish in the bathroom.

‘With impish glee, changes the
head of Bottom into a donkey’ — ­

and the bottom hills are garden
green stretched all ways
with scratch-brown patchy
valley runnels — 

Appears a tray with Old Fashioned!
I’ll be drunk before this idiocy’s over!

Finished the salad and daydreamed of war
and entered the air above checkered farmlands
to Lake Erie — 

I disappeared in a cloud of smoke
in the plastic lavatory,
flushing my breath
   down the maelstrom in the toilet — ­

hours and hours to go o’er America
and beef being served above the white
carpet-clouds — 

A fucking police state! I
feel at bay, in mid-air!
‘Breaking’ the ‘Law’ — dread
in the breast guilt in
the head, as I punched the
odorous green soap spigot to perfume
the washbowl & drown
the sweet Eastern smell
I carried — 

Now I’ll make that thornful pilgrimage
on feet of meat & bone across that
land I see stripped
& ruled below my
magic carpeted-cabin.
Another sip of old fashioned!
I’ll go to jail down there, heart
beating wildly! Not
because love’s in my hands,
buttocks kissed in the Rockies,
but because this dreamy muzaked
liquored luxurious air-ride’s
Euphoria’s no heaven

If it costs blood-flaps on the smooth
hairless skin of high cheeked
Vietnamese teenagers.
Everybody forgets who’s body
suffers the physical pain of Orders

undreamt in these High Air
Conditioned modern Powers.

Bam! Brahms brasses bang bright bombs
down over Ohio’s highways
I eat meat and a pea

Klemperer changes to Dance of
the Seven Veils, the Head

of John America cut off
will be presented: Coffee — 

And other Channels
Keep pushing Rock & Roll
Bottom on Shakespeare, Hallelujah
Waikiki, Bedtime Story,
Decline of the West Frug,
They’ll even begin the movie
The Satan Bug after
   I finish my cheesecake — 

Anything to keep me from looking down
on that innocent vastitude

Bottomed with Earth speckled
with townships houses like
white dots, park centers,

Man has overtaken his universe,
says the music, and pictures
of Mars are expected when
I set my sneakers on Land — ­

Beethoven proclaims ethereal Joy!
Strauss is sadder by 2 centuries
and still the longing strain
Screams in my ears from
middleeurope Concert Halls

I do declare that I am God!
I do declare by my beard & fame
that I will die!

I do declare war on Satan!
I do declare I am willing to
take the glory death on
my hideous stomach

and sing my Prophesy before
the Nations! — 

Hark! ye murderers! Hark
ye stuffed with vengeance!

Hark ye Angel Recordings! Hark
ye Joel Sebastian!

May I ask ye Sir Army, whom
ye hope to Kill?

Hark ye Chicago, the time for
Earth’s Revolution’s here!

Hark ye hopeless lovers, thine own
sweet will be done!

As Huncke came despairing Eastward
from this blue vast lake,

What misery has been created
to drown the joyful chant
of all our souls?

Oh great bend of shore, the men
on thee too many,
Chicago flowing with
   red smoke

Pouring out hatred of Communism

It’s you angry Hell Hounds
who have created Stalin and
his 15,000,000 murdered
Slavic hysterics — 

It’s your Capitalism
and your weak suited newsmen
and your Hearst Bank Mind

that has pushed the Communist
party to murder
your own asshole!

It’s your bombs over Korea, it
is your fire in Vietnam, it
is your shooed diplomat
across his desk that has lied
like a Communist bureaucrat
when the order came to cease the
penetration of the flesh with
sharp instruments — 

Wagner rides again! Hark
Ye, Ministers of Power and
ye Presidents of America
Ye Premiers of vast China
and ye Dalai Lamas of
Tibet — 
Hark ye balding soldiers
reading Mainliner
on the jetplane speeding
thru the Wagner Dooms
above these blue
atomic waters and
Scratched terrain
above Chicago’s tiny
Towers — 

At this moment there is a skeletal
man lying on the leafshit cobbles
of Dasawamedh Ghat,

At this moment by our will a
child is beaten in the balls by
a mad communist lieutenant
in an Albanian Phnom-penh — 

At this moment Joe Christ Screams
and falls raving on the
neck of a homosexual in Huế — ­
He bites his neck, he kisses,
he sucks the blood of the corpse — ­

At this moment a symphony of screams
arises in Uruguay as the riot
is ‘quelled’ by teeth-bash,

At this moment bombs on Barcelona burst
At this moment the charming children
of Joliet cower in Detention,
planning raids on weak villages
where Me-Kong hath sprouted — 

I prophesy thee death, Rock Island
lined with white bungalows — ­
for thy mean farm’s television
only communication to Saigon —

A bank of white cloud advances
as I advance on the Xylophones — 

Bongo Rock! Nigeria advances
with clouds! Earth is
Hidden in white fleece
as the drums batter in Mechanic invisibility — ­

We’re all out west, the squares
of perfect farmland, introduced
by Thelonious Monk Off Minor — 

which penetrates these grouped hives
of suburbia diminutive on the Planet — 

That Classical channel always
resounds thru hemispheres of
Empty Becoming,

Being filled with drumbeats and total
orchestra shaking Ascensions
Crane’d’ve come to Forever
If he could — 
Over Indiana, the flutes — 
Over Iowa and Omaha

A technicolor picture begins
on channel one — Elec
tronic Bee music.
The great steel safe door
crashes shut.

The buzzing sciencefiction
lights & gauges ascend like
Brahms didn’t — ­
A new man is born — 
The police answer the telephone — 
CIA looks at its wristwatch — 

They leave the atomic testing area
Goodnight Doctor! — 

The glass door    opens automatically,
a wolf runs round the barbed
wire, it’s not state prison,
it’s a scientific laboratory.

Paid for by Hollywood US Govt.
Your own taxes Dearie, it’s

Mr Electronics Nightclub
totally disconnected on yon farmhouse
in mid afternoon amid the
peaceful buzzing of the cows —

that created this faraway red bongo
music issuing from tank eyes
on the screen — your desire
by the boathouse.

A yacht on the screen in color
with a gangster spy conversation
‘outspoken on the immorality of war’
‘superb loan operator’ ... 

Actually on this screen a confrontation
a pacifist (who’ll turn out
to be a murderous spiderman?)

‘about the most secret chemical
warfare station on this hemisphere.’
‘Reagan has been murdered and
Dr. Baxter has vanished’ — 

So it’s not my paranoia
as I ride over these peaceful green
silent squares of     Anonymous
Stevenson birthstate — 

The movie on this airplane is projecting
the same angst as my hashish
bathroom — 

So I share in this vast fantasy
which rises like poison gas
from the man-wormed farmlands
approaching Missouri River — 

‘There’s something beyond the Botulinus — ­
our fantasies’ guineapig doom — ­
The germ of Death loosed
on Earth — 
   The sacred drawer opened
     The Satan Bug

Oh heaven what have we come to
up here looking down on
man’s consciousness is split
out of his self — 
‘Have they
told you
just what
this new
will do?’

‘Paranoids ... they’re very
brilliant the most of them
— my choice a Messiah’
as the ‘obey or else’
culprit who stole the
Satan Bug.

Shit the movie’s attacking
us Messiahs.

Not in this consciousness can I
resolve the confusion of Syntax.
Thin veil above the land,
the dotted grid of planet smoke — 

above the rills’ erosions on
brown ploughlands — 

(I’m smoking Cancers)
This hashi is depressing,

Or else the mind I’m in,
or else the plane I sit within,
or else the movie croaking in
the loudspeaker,

or else America itself
that made the mind movie airplane
national Paranoia.

‘Who is this? Who is this!’ on
the telephone.
‘We have to get

everyman in the country to find him!’

And westerly the land’s become
Dry brown — and mottled
with Glacier tracks streaming
South — Epochs of

Paranoia have come & gone,
The Great White Ice skidded
its way
rippling the terrain like
wind over Summer water,
the bemedalled soldier lights
another cigarette — 

and now it’s flat land and exact
Squares of Arnold’s fishing property — 

Invisible police networks are set
up in the movie,
always complaining, always compleynts
Violins piercing the ears — 
The Glacial skids
ruining the land for farming
1 /2 million years later — 
And the clouds’ve covered the entire
visible earth;
— that was the Platte I
saw before, streaked with Neal;
now great Rockies streaked
with snow — 

Remove the earphones at the
climax, undivided attention
to the
patches of summer snow on
the razor hills — a
green valley & its brown road
settled in between
black shoulders — 
waves of mountains slant
an inch above the old
human hummingbird hills — 
glacier patches & dust powder
hollows filled with white cold — ­
misted over by small vast
fog — 

So I turn back to the
Satan Bug movie — they’re

in a green Ford riding thru desert Utah — ­
As we pass the sunny Wasatch
glittering blue south — 

Help police! invading a baseball
to find the Doomsday
Bomb in Los Angeles
‘Power for its own sake!’

Over a grand canyon.

Shake Baby Shake!
‘You’ve got every reason on
Earth to be mad.’

And of course the Beatles
swinging into a Sea of Clouds
‘What this loven man can do,’

Typhoid Mary! We’re
all hypocrites, tell me Why
The Beatles shouldn’t spill the beans
Secret which might
Land them in Bedlam,
or Yevtuchenko in Lubyanka
instead of Spoleto if
he spoke without
450 corrections.

And if I opened my mouth I’d
be accused of treason in every
direction, high teacup Jazz,
Marxist, Demorep, Castroite, Maoist — ­

One’d be fallen on and torn to
pieces by Chinese teeth,
American knives, Scouse
bicycle chains, Vedado
cops hairy hands,

Demolished by the Dept. of Social
Undermining, thrown
in Ft Leavenworth, sent
to Siberia, reeducated in
sent to work on a Commune
in the fields beneath
the Potala.
Meanwhile flying over a red
desert, — 

Is civilization going to
Blow up?

In ten years I’ve climbed over
this sunny windowsill John Wieners

Now from Olympian Heights I look
on the rough giant earth black
Streaks of snow on foreign hills
the vast cloudmass walled
over the South, above
the Impenetrable Blue Space
skied upward
as Brahms crash swirls
round my eardrums,

and what should I prophesy,

The wing tip pierces thru
mist white Brahms — 

I must come back to my body.

No more question but the force
of wingtip lifting upward
to reveal the heaven-roof

as music burst
thru the Stereophonic
grey tipped earphones
Vast as the visible
Universe — 

Our desires pounding on,
our desire mounting, past Mars,
our hearts beating a million years,
Otto Klemperer enraged on
the podium,

Salome dancing again in
the airplane cabin,

Demands of the Beethovenian fist
in the Lightningstorm!

I am that I am,
renewed week after week,

   planeride after planeride,
Despair after streetcorner
headache despair.

Joyfully flying to death,
till the atom cellular
consciousness invades
with its cancerous stabs and
    flashes of electric chair.

All so solid it can’t even be a

Tho the phantom orgasm
of paraplegics proves

you can come in pure

   & spurt your semen all over
  a dreamwall bordello
  painted blue in Lima
   while the groin’s dead
limp & wrinkled under
the transparent cellophane
sheets of Experiment.

It’s too sad! It’s too happy!
It’s here, unfolding like
a giant rose,

It changes slow as eternity
shifts, it flies in triumph
thru the western clouds,

it approaches its old
memory city to find
its loves grown old & sane
and its own body middleaged

It flies toward old wrinkled faces,
It’s inexplicable, it rises
Triumphant above the Very
Earth and Screams
in Delight
the cumulus clouds.

Fasten your seatbelts in
the Mist!
The violins are ascending in
every direction!

‘We have climbed to 35,000 feet!’
The desert flows like a river
thru the mountain passes,
wrinkled like our own faces
above the smooth sand.

Nevada’s rough belly
breathless below!

I’ll get drunk & give no shit,
& not be a Messiah.
and have long talks goofin
with Wieners in Belvedere
by a stinky pond,
   drinking Dorian Gray martinis.
And ’twixt earnest & joke
Enjoyed the Ladeye, John.
We’re stuck in our
And who else to be stuck in?
A courteous Astronaut come
down from the Horizon
  to gaze in our eyes with patience,
  take our hand, and lift it
  trembling, to his khaki breast — 
Half the visible universe
excluded from this fantasy
but who’s counting?
Mama? God? Dear widowered
   Olson? Creeley
stumbling over his pecker?

Me, murmuring, what a beautiful
big pecker you got to a
pimply 16 year old boy
with his pants down on
          my pallet,

who talked all night about his
intellectual disorders

till my belly softened & I kissed
him on his shirt?

Beethovenian Climaxes Impossible?
Wagnerian Valkyrie rides

Salome dances too Incredible?
What’re we groveling in but the
most magnificent Aluminum Heaven?
complete with transcontinental
cloudcities — 
Complete with million horsepower
Jetroar astounding to any
pre war Daedalus — 

Clouds racing eastward, the
plane lowering slowly thru
the veils, over the
flat Sacramento valley,

into the inhabited shores,
the myriad minute boxes stacked
in rows, curved in clusters
planted like vast letters in
the giant flats

above the empty silent Space­
hangar in South Peninsula — 

Over the Bay, pointing toward
Golden Gate & Tamalpais

to the weak sad destiny
of aging companion selves

trembling above the red broadcasting

Down to the brown rippled
water, past yacht basin parks past

outdoor movies empty
sunlight glaring off the
white billboards,

OM, Down to the
ground roar tremble
along the white line
Jetbrakes roaring,
Brahms screaming
Symphony concluding
as we taxi slowly
down the runway
to the metalvoiced

This poem is from Wait till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems, published by Grove/Atlantic.
Source: Poetry (February 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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New York to San Fran

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