The Second Poem, by Allen Ginsberg.
Wherein Ren still tries to convince Ace that “poetry is cool, man.”
by Karen Bates
So…more poetry. And only a little late.
The first poem I presented to Ace, attempting to pull her in, didn’t do the trick. I guess she’s bothered by a dude with fleas in his bed (a very 17th century problem, actually). So this time, I am offering another favorite. And this one gets a little deep, so roll up your pant legs and wade in, because it’s time for a little Allen Ginsberg.
Ginsberg is about as modern a poet as they get…well, relatively speaking, that is. He was one of the founding members of the Beat Movement and kind of a dirty hippie. I count him among my favorite poets but I won’t share my very favorite poem of his here because it has a naughty word in it (Google “On Neal’s Ashes” if you are ok with naughty words and sad poems), which in fact, is a whole thing with Ginsberg. His most famous poem, “Howl’, was part of an obscenity trial in 1957. Today, people are still a little scandalized by his words and style. Which, for a poet, is a good thing.
The poem I am directing you to here, “Sunflower Sutra” (and actually, I just realized that this one has a naughty word in it too, it’s what happens with Ginsberg, so you know, be advised and all that…) is, pretty different from the flea poem, but it’s still about seeing the beauty in the darkness, if not in the blending of blood in a flea, then in finding the sunflower under the soot. It’s a little stream-of consciousness, a little rambling, a little difficult to parse, really, but that works in its favor, because what Allen and Jack are looking at is a dusty, faded, dried up sunflower, and what they are realizing, by way of yet another poet (Blake), is that not only is nature there, underneath it all, but also that we, collectively, the reader, the writer, the sunflower…we are more than what you see on the surface. Wipe away the locomotive grit and grime and there is something else. Deep, eh?
It’s a hopeful and lovely poem that uses filth and dust to prove a point, much like Mr. Donne did with his infested sheets. Only this time, Ginsberg’s seduction is more a matter of realization and enlightenment. So, maybe less sexy (did we decide that “The Flea” was sexy? I’m not sure…), but still a damn good poem.
I suspect that Ace still won’t like poetry after this one. And it is a little…wordy. But I do know she’ll appreciate the sentiment. And really that’s all that matters. But I promise I’ll get her with the next poem!