At the End of the Century


—written for Allen Ginsberg at his 70th birthday

Ah century that has embraced me these past 39 years, that has set
before my eyes so much tumult and catastrophe, that has taken too
many of my friends and ravaged the calendar with my mother’s
mother’s blood, that has wormed a hole

from earth’s core through ozone layer to the sun, I have but one
wish for you: Die my century! why wait? early to bed with you! Take
early retirement, take your granite eyes, your fully paid tombstone, your
electrified casket, your four billion odes to death,

burn your damn books those dastardly lies, lay your plutonium
shroud over leftover legacy, let’s be done with you. Artists around
here in all watercolors have prefigured many paths to follow—
choose one: no-warning aneurism during peaceful sleep, drunken

liver rot, kidney explosion at top of donor wait list, youthful breast
cancer, no-holds-barred immune system surrender, sudden leap off
college dormitory roof—if you don’t like local Jersey methods, why
not blow your brains out

like Russia’s Mayakovsky, you betrayed his dreams as much as any-
one’s, over & over & over, so go ahead, straight to your grave, die my
century! it’s your time, the signs all there, all 500 TV channels are
screaming bloody random murder,

—“Lester Leaps In” now
playing on my CD, these the jazz rhythms A.G. had in mind while
writing angelic “Howl”, while swinging for the century’s fences, ah
Allen’s 70th birthday last week, maybe the books are worth

saving from the bonfire, maybe some 20th century visions to carry,
some ways to connect—maybe, my century, you never intended to
fuck us up? maybe never intended to walk into the bar wearing the
death mask? Whatever your intentions, you’re through!

Die my century, we’re growing impatient, no need to prolong this
multiperspectival agony, leave now so rebirth may arrive soon, too
many cannot afford to wait—Goldie’s kidneys can’t take it much
longer, you’ve already killed her, what more do you want?

For her, there was too much apartheid far & near, too many youth
shot, too many communities allowed to go broke, too many phar-
maceutical giants allowed to roughshod concrete boots through
city’s historic gardens—for Mark, too many fathers

dying ridiculous wars, too many mothers scrambling for shelter, too
many hungry children deserving songs of their own—audrey’s
landlord never let her pick up her clothes, robbery by the propertied
class plain and simple, an old-fashioned crime

your courts never learned to solve—what good were you? Your
patriarchal capitalisms grew immeasurable tumors, you threw out
socialized medicine before inventing an alternate cure, Ethan leapt
off the balcony & nobody knows why, too many too manys,

cover that body, cover that experimental beard, hide that loud
music, cover cover cover blood blood blood cover—now I’ve got
this throbbing headache, like a hammer at the back of the head
banging from the inside, could be sinus

infection, how am i supposed to be sure when no doctor will see
anyone for days—southern black churches are burning, Wood-
bridge’s fiery oil storage tanks at this very moment spewing huge
toxic clouds, hawks drop Mid-East bombs on infant ribs,

FBI looks up the wrong files, Vietnam’s lessons & veterans remain
locked outside our nation’s checkbook memory, celebrities
endorse sexy underwear sewn by starved Guatamala teens, Nigeria
is hanging its writers, Philadelphia prefers to lethally inject—

how beautiful Lester’s rhythms of earthly engagement, dead
friends’ divine energies digging those sounds, they lived spread out
& diverse, they lived this century as well as died it, they rode the
universe’s internationalist intergenerational bus along

your potholed highways & loved out loud many of your bumpy
struggles,—My beloved pillowcase century! After yr breathing has
slowed, we who endure will send our compassionate imaginations
ahead, will keep our coalitions together with tough new thread,

our desire for change will survive the most callous assassins, so
send yr SS back to their self-made hells, toss torturers East & West
back into their flesh-eating ditches—let go yr thousand demons &
yr one gods, merciful death & even more merciful rebirth,

we will encounter a future, the fourway mirror will forgive, eman-
cipatory eyedrops will relieve the ache, after the sliding back & the spi-
raling forth, the planet & the plan, after the redwood keyboard & the
meditative sprint, the bacbacbac back back

bacbacbac—sometime next century our sketches will come to life…