Saturday, June 28, 2008

Learning to be Ailanthus

The tree in the photograph from 6/18 has been cut down. Developers have sunk pylons, ailanthus is already starting to sprout - most persaverant of all - and the packed earth fills when it rains.

And now, two poets, Malena Morling (whom I've mentioned before) and Allen Ginsburg - both of whom knew Utopia Avenue, decades apart - and their poems, one containing ailanthus, each requiring a gun.

For F.M. Who Did Not Get Killed Yesterday on 57th Street
by Malena Morling

When they shot you,
you did not become a stone or a tree,
you did not become lake water
or the unwieldy shadow of a cloud.
You darted like a fish
through the hole the bullet made in the air.
You became air,
refusing to thicken, refusing to talk back
or move unless the wind moved
as it does now through the elms
and the ailanthus. Today I can hear
the ocean at the end of the block
tossing itself up on the beach,
the sound of it has entered everything in the house,
even the thimbles in the drawers.

Dream Record : June 8, 1955
by Allen Ginsburg

A drunken night in my house with a
boy, San Francisco: I lay asleep:
      I went back to Mexico City
and saw Joan Burroughs leaning
forward in a garden-chair, arms
on her knees. She studied me with
clear eyes and downcast smile, her
face restored to a fine beauty
tequila and salt had made strange
before the bullet in her brow.

We talked of the life since then.
Well, what's Burroughs doing now?
Bill on earth, he's in North Africa.
Oh, and Kerouak? Jack still jumps
with the same beat genius as before,
notebooks filled with Buddha.
I hope he makes it, she laughed.
Is Huncke still in the can? No,
last time I saw him on Times Square.
And how is Kenney? Married, drunk,
and golden in the East. You? New
loves in the West -
      Then I knew
she was a dream : and questioned her
-Joan, what kind of knowledge have
the dead? can you still love
your mortal acquaintances?
What do you remember of us?
faded in front of me - The next instant
I saw her rain-stained tombstone
rear an illegible epitaph
under the gnarled branch of a small
tree in the wild grass
of an unvisited garden in Mexico.

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