Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beat Memories

Again and again in those final years he returned to a single image - the view from his kitchen window - squat East Village skyline, propellers of shrubbery, an open window flirting with the wind, and half a dozen droplets of rain shining on a clothesline, meaning nothing symbolic, you understand, no poetry as high wire act, placement of words on the taut line, points of focus making the scene come true, only the instinct of an old poet, his empathy for all that clings by a thread, familiar alchemy of shabbiness to sadness achieved by fragile means.

And all around that image the photographs of his friends from the old days - Burroughs, Corso, Kerouac - all that mad and generous generation, so easy in their young men's faces, so tired in their old, a gallery of portraits in impromptu glory, resplendent as drops on a clothesline, that hold, their fall inevitable, true to the light.

[Inspired by an exhibition of Ginsberg's photographs at the National Gallery of Art]

Update: Edmund White in the NYRB on the exhibition


Anonymous said...

Falsie, Ginsberg looks EXACTLY like you.

Yes, I am aware that I have my chronological sequence all mixed up. Yes, I am also aware that you may not take it as a compliment, and who knows, Ginsberg may well be middler brow than you would like, and there might instead be some Korean-Venezuelen who write Portuguese pentamenter who is your Ideal.

But Ginsberg looks exactly like you.


Anonymous said...

Yes and I have not a shred of poetry in my soul (worse off, me)but that extravagant shrubbery reminded me EXACTLY of the spinach that grows along the train lines in Bombay, where people take their morning crap and consequently when you buy spinach it has the faint odor of something not quite green and fresh about it. And when you travel many thousands of miles away, you still hesitate a little bit before you take the spinach,a nd still place it under a tap out of a long-ago self-protective instinct.

And the apartment. It seems dirty. The kind that is littered with bottles of alcohol, a single lightbulb keeping you and Ginsberg company (he dressed in a checked lungi and dirty white vest), drinking country liquor, and you worrying about bringing a toddler in there because you can see the dust balls across the old wood floors. And in the kitchen, in the cracked,stained ceramic (not stainless steel) sink, there would be dishes piled up from the last evening's dinner, and in the bathroom, there would be a dank smell of towel.

Sorry, your prose/poetry inspired me too.


Falstaff said...

Awww...that is a compliment. Though of course I'd rather write like the man than look like him. And I wish I was that thin. But still, a compliment.

And that apartment sounds perfect. Who wouldn't want their place to be hazardous for toddlers?

Anonymous said...

Also its now on the market for $1700 /mth rent.

The apartment, that is.