Howl Poem by Alan Ginsberg


Howl
I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats
floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofs
illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the
scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror
through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- cohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada &
Paterson, illuminating all the mo- tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront
boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks
of Brook- lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of
wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of
brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s floated out and sat through the stale beer after noon in desolate
Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook- lyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State
out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of
hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on
the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- ings and migraines of China under junk-with- drawal in
Newark’s bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no
broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grand- father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep- athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- stinctively
vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- ionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- homa on the impulse of winter midnight street light smalltown
rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard
to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and
ash of poetry scattered in fire place Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their
dark skin passing out incom- prehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos
wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild
cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu- scripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose gardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering
their semen freely to whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond
& naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed
shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual
golden threads of the craftsman’s loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can- dle and fell off
the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt
and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared
to sweeten the snatch of the sun rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and
Adonis of Denver-joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’
rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet- ticoat upliftings &
especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up
out of basements hung over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
ment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open
to a room full of steamheat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of
the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates
of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of
gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their
heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess- fully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where
they thought they were growing old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up
clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of
sinis- ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- pened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the
ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- saic, leaped on
negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic
European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears
and the blast of colossal steam whistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or
Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find
out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver
& brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul
illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in
their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific
to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp notism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung
jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of
the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in- stantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- therapy
occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad man doom of the
wards of the madtowns of the East,
Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- ing and rolling in
the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the
moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at
4. A.M. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- nished room emptied down to the last
piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing
but a hopeful little bit of hallucination
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the
catalog the meter & the vibrat- ing plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the
soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together
jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intel- ligent and shaking
with shame, rejected yet con- fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come
after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of
America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to
the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.

II

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- nation?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob tainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys
sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose
buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun- ned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies!
Moloch whose breast is a canni- bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless
Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac- tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the
cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the
specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and
manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me
out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral
nations! invincible mad houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave- ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which
exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De- spairs! Ten years’
animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the
roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!

III

Carl Solomon! I’m with you in Rockland where you’re madder than I am
I’m with you in Rockland where you must feel very strange
I’m with you in Rockland where you imitate the shade of my mother
I’m with you in Rockland where you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries
I’m with you in Rockland where you laugh at this invisible humor
I’m with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I’m with you in Rockland where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio
I’m with you in Rockland where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses
I’m with you in Rockland where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica
I’m with you in Rockland where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx
I’m with you in Rockland where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re losing the game of the actual pingpong of
the abyss
I’m with you in Rockland where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die
ungodly in an armed madhouse
I’m with you in Rockland where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
cross in the void
I’m with you in Rockland where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against
the fascist national Golgotha
I’m with you in Rockland where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from
the superhuman tomb
I’m with you in Rockland where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com- rades all together singing the final stanzas
of the Internationale
I’m with you in Rockland where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs
all night and won’t let us sleep
I’m with you in Rockland where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the
roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col- lapse O skinny legions run
outside O starry spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free
I’m with you in Rockland in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- journey on the highway across America in tears
to the door of my cottage in the Western night


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