Thursday, November 23, 2006


After The Slam

I met you in a lesbian bar
you were talking with your sister.
It wasn't far of a way to go
to the house you shared with her.
The snow was falling in Chicago that night.
I was ranting about wearing
a pair of Keds and slipping on the pavement.
You were smoking someone else's cigarettes.
When your sister started talking to some girl
you sucked on lemon drops. The bartender had already
called for the final round of drinks, as
we took off for your car.
After I opened up my door, some guitar frets fell on the floor.
The cops passed by us, Mars lights flashing.
They must be weary chasing psychos under cover of night.
The S&M in me was waiting to be undone.
It was still blazing bright in a cool burn
as I admired your leather seats.
I was a fool to think that bondage could release the inner joy.
Yet, my heart was jumping into a bed of unlucky stars
willing to be all then to fumble
and be led away from pleasure, and pain, again.

Carl Macki can be located on the internet at .

Monday, November 20, 2006


Planet Ali

Maybe Ali isn’t


he was dropped down
from space,

from a faraway star
system, a distant planet,
where the men are
more than men
as we know them;
where to the beat
of a different
celestial drum,
they all dance

like Nureyev,
are all handsome
as movie stars.

Maybe on Planet Ali,
Muhammad is just
one of millions
all the same,
and when someday
he returns home,
they’ll all have
a good ol’ laugh about
how he danced his way
to immortality
on dumb planet

PLANET ALI is a new book of poems by notable Australian poet Glenn Cooper. The ones I've seen so far suggest the book is going to be a killer. Watch this page for more news.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


For Gerald Locklin

Hank, you were right
to hold the city between yr. teeth
and shake it

I know that now, learning
on the drive down last month
to speak at the library
where they house yr. archive

I had things to say
about the ease
of yr. being, I guess
the curator knew the worst I could say
is that the land swelled within
your grasp, the dark sea
of protest calmed within
a wide understanding that deepens
the divide between us,

yr. land of sexy blondes and
tough men with rotten teeth
watering their lawns, yr. landlady
blues, yr. leaking sink, Hemingway
in the bathtub

I saw the hills divide into
sections, thigh and breast, leg
and neck, torso and
shoulder, the highway spun
our sorrow, would we find the museum
on time? do they want me to read a poem
in yr. honor? answer questions?

we inched uphill
past the century plants and
dry mesquite
knowing that the land would flatten
into the great, grave-minded basin

but truly
you and I drank the sober drafts
of sultry summer back in 68’ and 69’
while our soldiers
fielded Vietnam

we’d storm through
the beatitudes, I wanted yr.
self-assurance, yr. grip, time
pulled me into the roaring asphalt
and dragged you to the heights

this is today and
today feels like nowhere
except everything, I see Linda, yr
love, we embrace, we walk
together through long halls, “here
are the smoking ruins of
Jack London and this
is the Ellesmere Chaucer,” imagine,
down a narrow passage to a door
with a security timer, and into a room
where the manuscripts of Charles Bukowski
await the curator’s hand

theft is an issue at the Huntington Library
and Gardens, even scholars have larceny
secreted in their nimble fingers, touching
a Coleridge notebook, leafing through
a Shakespeare folio, now leaping
onto the backside of Bukowski

yeah, Hank,
I love you, I hate, I love, I
climb the dais with a microphone in my lapel
so the answers I give
will rise like condors
over the far distant mountains that somberly
push my old city
into its shadowy grave

I tell them to think of palm trees
and unending boulevards, to regard
the end as a beginning,
to forgive themselves
for the empty pages
of their own design

you might have been proud
of what I said and
how I spoke with such authority
in the grim business

driving home was
largely uneventful, they
sent a letter of thanks
and invited me to soar
over the Basin one last time

with/without you,
alive and alone

Neeli Cheerkovski
30 Oct 06

Someone Should Write Another HOWL

How often we hear that! It's been the great cliche of the Howl Fifty corporate buckfest, the embers of which still seem to be glowing here and there in America, if nowhere else. It seems every time you get five balding men in suits into an auditorium and Allen Ginsberg is mentioned, you'll hear it: "Somebody should write another Howl." These representatives of the liberalish wing of the literary Establishment apparently bemoaning the absence of some radical screed that will put an end to the infamies of everyone but them.

Leave aside the question of whether Howl was even the Howl it has come to be, with nostalgia and the obscurations of memory and the sentimentality of old men. There is an incredible, vital poetry scene in America and across the world today, full of angry or flip or drunken or stoned or philosophic or spiritual or existential or crazy men and women , and some of what they're producing is magnificent, maybe even better than Howl at times, and certainly better than the majority of Ginsberg's output. But if you take your literature from Harper-Collins or the inside of a university auditorium with panel-mates hand-picked by the terminally uninformed, you're going to miss the whole thing..

Someone should write another Howl? Idiots! Read Norbert Blei, read Ronald Baatz, read Christopher Wunderlee, read Delphine Lecompte, read Glenn Cooper, read Dave Church, read Gerald Nicosia, just bloody wake up and smell the poetical coffee. There is music in the cafes again, and revolution in the air, as another great and still just-about-living bard once said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jonah Raskin Radio Appearance Cancelled

Jonah Raskin's scheduled appearance on American radio, where he was to discuss Ginsberg's HOWL with Bill Morgan, was cancelled today--barely two days after the publication of his essay on this site.

Events like this do nothing to stop the persistent rumours of political interference on the part of the Beat estates when it come to critical portrayals of themselves or the poets.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Beats: Beautiful in an Ugly, Graceful Way.

By Jonah Raskin

The Beats have brought me a great deal of joy - and a great deal of sadness, as well. To be more precise, the original Beat writers have brought joy, and the Beat businessmen have brought sadness. I suppose that's what happens with every literary revolution; sooner or later it becomes established - or it vanishes from the scene - and when it becomes established it becomes a matter of money, copyright, control of literary property and control of the literary image as well.
A case in point: Allen Ginsberg did not copyright Howl when it was first published. The idea of copyright did not cross his mind. Soon after CityLights published the first edition, he did copyright it, and made a handsome living from the million or so copies of Howl that City Lights sold, along with Kaddish and his many other volumes of poetry.Today, HarperCollins - part of Rupert Murdock's media empire - owns the copyright to Ginsberg poetry, and anyone who uses more a line or two of quotations has to pay a fee -or risk a law suit and a fine. I applied for and received permission for my book about Allen Ginsberg entitled American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the BeatGeneration. HarperCollins counted up the total number of words from Ginsberg's work and charged me a fee - with words like "and," "but" and "like" costing as much as phrases like "hydrogen jukebox" or "drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality" - which makes no sense at all. To their copyright division it did not matter what words were at issues, or the uniqueness of the phrasing. All that matters to them is the total number of words.
Paying a fee to Ginsberg would have made sense. I understand the notion that an artist will go on being creative if he or she is paid for his orher work. But paying a corporation doesn't make anyone creative.I also had to get permission from Allen Ginsberg's estate, which was more interested in presenting a sanitized image of Ginsberg then in presenting a full and complete picture of him as a poet and as human being. Only the fact that Ginsberg himself insisted "Candor is our business" forced the executors of the estate to give me permission to quote from Ginsberg's work, all of which is in libraries across America, from Berkeley, California to Austin, Texas and New York. Libraries do an excellent job of preserving manuscripts and I have no complaint against them.What I don't like is that the Ginsberg estate did not want to give permission until and unless I showed that I was going to write a book of which they would approve. Of course, I did not promise to write the official story with their official version. I insisted on writing the book that told the full story, and I did resent it that I had to battle the folks at the Ginsberg estate. When I published a story I had learned from the executors themselves about Ginsberg on his death bed, they were irate.
Ginsberg had called the White House and had asked then President William Clinton if he would present him, Allen Ginsberg, with an award. Clinton had no award to give, and Ginsberg died without the recognition he had wanted. To anyone who had known Ginsberg, or who had studied his work, it was obvious that he thrived on fame, and craved fame and adulation. In "Transcription of Organ Music," a poem which he wrote in Berkeley in 1955, at the same time he was writing Howl, he wrote, "I want people to bow asthey see me and say/ he is gifted with poetry."
The Ginsberg exeuctors did not want me to portray Ginsberg as he really was: a man obsessed with fame. They wanted me to describe him as a Buddhist totally detached from self and from ego and from power, and whenI also wrote about the ad that Ginsberg did for the Gap that promotes Khakis they did not approve of that, either, I am sorry to say. And let me say here that Ginsberg made about $300,000 a year in the last decade of his life - a fact that the guardians of the estate would not like to be made public, either.
Writing biographies of famous writers, including the Beats, can be frustrating and it can feel as though the original intention of the Beat Generation writer has been perverted by corporate control and by copyright. My own experience has taught me the importance of not knuckling under and insisting on telling the truth, even when it does not paint a beautiful picture.
Of course, the Beats weren't always beautiful, as Jack Kerouac noted in "About the Beat Generation," his landmark 1957 essay, but rather "beautiful in an ugly graceful new way." Writers about the Beats must capture the ugliness and the gracefulness, and the ugly gracefulness, too, or they will fail to reflect the truth of the Beats.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


SF Gate carries a story about City Lights founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti's war record entitled "Ferlinghetti Chased Subs in WWII."

How things change. Now he chases rich literary estates to stay central to the money doings around the lives of dead friends.

Kenneth Rexroth

King Wenclas' ruminations on the Patriarch of the San Francisco scene Kenneth Rexroth on King's site ATTACKING THE DEMI-PUPPETS ( ), have provoked some interesting thoughts on Rexroth's relationship to Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, as well as fruitful correspondence with the Rexroth archive site BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECRETS ( ).
The correspondent from the site (didn't sign their email), says that Rexroth's role in the Beat history has been played down because of his later, difficult relationship with Kerouac. And it's true.

He shouldn't be viewed as another of the Establishment jackasses and lickspittles who lined up to put Jack down, though put him down Rexroth did. His criticisms were serious, though spiteful, and they were motivated by Rexroth's desire to protect a radical tradition he genuinely believed Kerouac was undermining with his sentimentality, his secret populism, his conservatism. It's a highly arguable position, but it's a position, which is more than you can say for the hack journalists who were insulting Jack for cheap laughs in suburban breakfast nooks.

Wild Bill Blackolive

One of the best writers I've come across in what might be called, lazily, the "post-Beat" vein is Wild Bill Blackolive. His novel TALES FROM THE TEXAS GANG is available to read in its entirety at Bill's site . If you came to this site because your hang-up is the Beats, know this: William Burroughs himself read and liked TEXAS GANG, which first jumped out at the world from behind a Texas tree in 1978. He even offered to try and help it get wider circulation, though given how good it seems to be (I've only read the first few pages), it never stood a chance.

One day, eh? Maybe one day, if we all keep pushing at the doors. As that great Beat poet Oscar Wilde would say, Cynicism is intellectual dandyism.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Morgan's New Biog Doesn't Tell The Whole Truth

Bill Morgan's unimaginatively (and confusingly) titled biography of Allen Ginsberg I CELEBRATE MYSELF has appeared. I say it's confusingly titled because it seems strange and misleading to me to use a quote from one mega-famous poet to title a book about another. But perhaps I'm being too literal-minded.

Anyway. Early reviews suggest it's a congenial-enough book lacking in a certain incisiveness because of Morgan's proximity (if not closeness) to Ginsberg in life. It would also appear to paint a rather saintly picture of the Beats' central poet, stressing--according to SFGate--his ceaseless promotion of his friends' works during the Beat explosion and for the rest of his long career.

Well, maybe. But according to conversations I've had with people closer to Allen, and to other poets and writers in the Beat environs, Morgan has chosen to omit a few very telling details about Ginsberg's life from the biography, details that contradict the picture of the man that he is attempting to paint. Include these and Ginsberg is a flawed man capable of overweening ambition and fits of astoundingly disloyal behaviour.

Which is fine by me, I've heard the stories and I've still got a large portrait of Allen over my fireplace. I don't need my heroes to be cleaner than the Lone Ranger. And I don't think anybody else who's a fan of the Beats would expect it either. Or perhaps we're now going to see an attempt at reinventing Ginsberg for suburban readers and neocons?

Anyway, at least one of the writers Morgan chose to ignore when he was writing I CELEBRATE MYSELF will be publishing his story on this page soon instead, so the balance will be somewhat redressed. Keep an eye on WHOLLY COMMUNION to see the side of Allen Ginsberg that the folks from the Estate didn't think you would be able to swallow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Beats On MySpace

The people running the various Beat Generation sites on MySpace have responded to my requests to add them to my own network (as you do there), in some surprising ways. All have approved my request except one (more of which in a moment.)

The Ginsberg and Cassady sites then left it at that, with no further communication.

The Kerouac site has exchanged a few messages with me in a polite and supportive way.

Phil Whalen's site, like the man at his best, has been delightful, avuncular, provocative, friendly.

Robert Creeley's site were polite and gentle (okay, he's not Beat, but he's part of that generation, if nothing else.)

But Gregory Corso's site sent me a private message saying I would not be approved because I didn't have any of Gregory's books in my favourites list! I didn't have any of Whalen's, Cassady's or Creeley's either, but they didn't feel the need to be so pretentious about it.

WHOLLY COMMUNION is the one corner of the Beat/ post-Beat world that will expose this kind of nonsense wherever it occurs.