with Allen Ginsberg
Music/theater piece by Philip Glass, Allen Ginsberg and Jerome Sirlin Libretto by Allen Ginsberg.
2S, Mz, T, Bar, B; ssx (fl), ssx (tsx, bcl)/ 2 perc (timp, SD, BD, tuned drums, tgl, tamb, cow bells, wdbl, anvil, finger cyms, cym, tpl.bl) 2 syn (1 piano), hand claps
Commissioned by the Spoleto Music Festival USA, Charleston, SC and the American Music Theater Festival Philadelphia, PA
May 26, 1990 at the Spoleto Music Festival USA, Charleston, SC. Concert version: April 29, 1990 at the American Music Theater Festival Philadelphia, PA.
Drawing upon Ginsberg’s poetry, this music/theater piece is a portrait of America that cover’s the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, seen by the collaborators Glass, Ginsberg and Sirlin. Its content ranges from highly personal poems of Ginsberg to his reflection on social issues: the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution, drugs, eastern philosophy, environmental awareness. The six vocal parts represent six archetypal American characters- a waitress, a policeman, a businessman, a cheerleader, a preist, a mechanic
Dunvagen Music Publishers
Hydrogen Jukebox at musicsalesclassical.com
Hydrogen Jukebox on Nonesuch
GlassJukebox on Nonesuch
Tara Hugo Sings Philip Glass
“Ultimately, the motif of Hydrogen Jukebox, the underpinning, the secret message, secret activity, is to relieve human suffering by communicating some kind of enlightened awareness of various themes, topics, obsessions, neuroses, difficulties, problems, perplexities that we encounter as we end the millennium.” — Allen Ginsberg
In FY 1990, Spoleto Festival U.S.A received a $60,000 NEA New American Works grant to “support the development, rehearsal, and preproduction of ‘Hydrogen Jukebox,'” a chamber opera for ensemble and soloists. The work, which premiered at Spoleto on May 26, 1990, grew out of a chance meeting between legendary poet Allen Ginsberg and groundbreaking composer Philip Glass in 1988. Glass had just been asked to compose a piece for the [Vietnam Veterans Theatre Ensemble], and he asked Ginsberg to perform with him. Ginsberg suggested a piece based on his epic anti-war poem Wichita Vortex Sutra.
“Allen and I so thoroughly enjoyed the collaboration that we soon began talking about expanding our performance into an evening-length music-theater work,” writes Glass in the liner notes for Hydrogen Jukebox. Along with designer Jerome Sirlin, Glass and Ginsberg built a libretto from Ginsberg’s collected work, selecting 18 poems that together sketched a “portrait” of America from the 1950s through the 1980s.
“Having decided the topics, we then found texts that covered them, and put a mosaic or tapestry together,” explained Ginsberg, “so the drama is interlinked, hooked together thematically, though it’s not a ‘linear’ story. Maybe more like a slow motion video.”
For Glass, Ginsberg’s work was a natural fit for addressing the social issues prevalent in the 1980s. “With Jukebox I was working with a vernacular language that we all know,” he says. “For this purpose nothing could be better than Allen’s poetry, because he is inventing a poetic language from the sounds and rhythms all around us — and American language that is logical, sensual, at times abstract and always expressive.”
Prior to the work’s Spoleto premiere, Philadelphia’s American Music Theatre Festival hosted several early performances of Hydrogen Jukebox in the spring of 1990. A Washington Post reviewer praised the work for its “fully focused, deeply communicative and artistically integrated concept.”
With a playing time of nearly two hours (with one intermission), Hydrogen Jukebox is scored for six voices and a chamber ensemble comprising keyboards, winds, and percussion. The poet serves as narrator. Sirlin designed the sets and visual elements, while choreographer and director Ann Carlson originated the staging. The mood of the 15-song cycle shifts from the percussive militarism of Jahweh and Allah Battle to the haunting vocalese on the Iron Horse selections to the hymnlike rhythms of Wichita Vortex Sutra.
The Washington Times called Hydrogen Jukebox “a happy meeting of two unmistakably American sensibilities.” Given Glass and Ginsberg’s shared adherence to Buddhism and each man’s standing as a cultural pioneer — Glass as a proponent of minimalism in classical music and Ginsberg as a resurrectionist of poetry’s incantatory line — it is not surprising that their collaboration was a fruitful one, garnering mostly positive reviews.
The Times review further raved, “The triumph of Mr. Ginsberg’s poetry is much like that of Walt Whitman’s ‘Specimen Days,’ a joyous reaffirmation of humanity in the face of brutality. The triumph of Mr. Glass’s music lies in its power to make time stand still, letting the audience live the words as if these were not taking place in a linear plane.”
Glass and Ginsberg presented Hydrogen Jukebox in more than 30 cities in the U.S. and abroad. They also made plans to collaborate on another concert work based on Ginsberg’s 1978 poem Plutonium Ode. “At that time I had in mind simply an extended piano work to accompany Allen in live performance,” recalls Glass. Ginsburg died in 1997, however, before the new work was completed. Unwilling to continue without the poet, the composer left the work incomplete,
A new commission — from Carnegie Hall and Brucknerhaus Linz — to celebrate Glass’s 65th birthday prompted the composer to finish what became Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 6 — Plutonian Ode. “By then, the piano music I had originally imagined had grown to a full orchestra and Allen’s resonant speaking voice to a lyric soprano,” recounts Glass.
Nearly two decades after its composition, Hydrogen Jukebox remains a relevant work in the contemporary repertoire. Glass speaks to its persistent appeal saying, “We’ve taken [Hydrogen Jukebox] to many different cities, and people recognize it — perhaps they see themselves in the portrait.”
The creation of the chamber opera Hydrogen Jukebox can be traced to a chance meeting in 1988 between composer Philip Glass and poet Allen Ginsberg at the now defunct St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York City’s East Village. When Ginsberg plucked a book with a copy of his 1966 antiwar poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra” off the shelf and said he’d be reading it at a Broadway theater, Glass decided to compose a piano piece to accompany the reading. The collaboration was a success, so the two decided to expand the performance into a longer music-theater work. The result, Hydrogen Jukebox, a rarely performed piece for six voices and a chamber ensemble, kicks off this year’s BU Fall Fringe Festival tonight.
Also part of the festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary, will be performances of the Caryl Churchill play Mad Forest and The Werther Project, a concert adaptation of the Jules Massenet opera Werther. The Glass-Ginsberg piece runs tonight through Sunday, October 16, at the BU Theatre’s Lane-Comley Studio 210. Music direction is by Allison Voth, a College of Fine Arts associate professor of music and principal coach of CFA’s Opera Institute, and Matthew Larson, a CFA lecturer in music and opera. Stage direction is by Emily Ranii (CFA’13), an Opera Institute lecturer.
A collaboration between the School of Music, the Opera Institute, and the School of Theatre, the Fringe Festival champions significant but infrequently performed works in the opera and theater repertoire.
Hydrogen Jukebox, which premiered in May 1990, was Ginsberg’s way, he wrote, of attempting to relieve human suffering “by communicating some kind of enlightened awareness of various themes, topics, obsessions, neuroses, difficulties, problems, perplexities that we encounter as we end the millennium.” Ginsberg, a major figure among the so-called Beat Generation poets, died in 1997 at age 70. The 70-minute, one-act piece features six characters—two sopranos, a mezzo-soprano, a tenor, a bass, and a baritone—in a series of 15 vignettes from the verse of the visceral poet who implored the reader to “follow your own moonlight.”
Glass’ often hypnotic score will be performed by two keyboards, percussion, flute, bass clarinet, and soprano and tenor saxophone. “The music is very tonal, also there’s something very tribal about it,” says Larson, adding that the six characters sharing the stage represent various travelers “on a journey that parallels life. They comment on war, on the passage of time, on history relentlessly repeating itself.”
Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg
Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg (right) collaborated with composer Philip Glass to create Hydrogen Jukebox, a meditation on war with Ginsberg’s poetry and Glass’ score.
In addition to “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” the songs include sections of Ginsberg poems “The Green Automobile,” “Nagasaki Days,” “Aunt Rose,” “Father Death Blues,” and his seminal poem “Howl.” Ranii, academic program head of the BU Summer Theatre Institute for high school students, has staged the opera on a kind of runway with audience members on either side, so the characters are moving along in a constant journey. “The vignettes are remarkably unified in the idea of searching for something, particularly asking why do we go to war,” says Larson. The work “is so timely now considering all the turmoil in the world, the election, ISIS, the police shootings. History really does repeat itself.”
Also chosen for its timeless message is British playwright Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest, which will run from October 27 through 30 at Lane-Comley Studio 210. With a 12-member cast and a design team of CFA undergraduates and alumni, the three-act play is set in Romania before, during, and after the uprising against the totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was executed along with his wife, Elena, on Christmas Day 1989, days after being overthrown. The play initially is set against the paranoia-drenched backdrop of Communist Romania in the months leading up to the revolution; in the second act, the actors portray different characters during the Ceaușescus’ overthrow; and the final act unfolds in a hospital where, as a character recovers from battle wounds, the play examines Romania’s treatment of its Hungarian minority and weighs the conflicting interpretations of recent history.
It’s a demanding play with “a lot of moving parts,” says director Judy Braha (CFA’08), a CFA assistant professor of directing and acting. The play toys with reality, employing an angel, a vampire, a dog, and a ghost. The characters emerged from interviews the British playwright did while visiting Bucharest after the revolution, and its mortal population includes students and a security officer. “One thing I like about the play is it has a lot to do with words,” says Braha. “By the end of the play words are squandered and cruel. People have years of pent-up frustration which they take out on each other.”
Being part of both Hydrogen Jukebox and Mad Forest has been an education for CFA students, the directors say. For Jukebox, the opera opened the door to a study of Ginsberg’s poetry and the context of his restive, Vietnam War–era times. And Mad Forest, which premiered in London in 1991 before moving to New York, has taught students about the nature of revolt. “I’m really keen on doing plays that require a lot of research for actors and designers,” says Braha. To help the students grasp what it was like in Bucharest in those times, she had them meet with Cornel Ban, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of international relations and a Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies professor. The Romanian-born Ban was 16 and living in Bucharest at the time of the Romanian revolution. “The citizens in the play, as the third act shows, don’t know how to navigate or live in an allegedly free society,” says Braha. “American students have always been as free as possible. It’s an interesting challenge for them, to get a feel for what it would be like to have every place that you went to bugged.”
The festival will conclude with a performance of The Werther Project, an adaptation of the opera Werther by the late-19th-century French composer Jules Massenet, which he based loosely on an epistolary autobiographical novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The Fringe Festival performance on October 28 will feature most of Massenet’s score along with narrations from the original libretto. Stage direction is by Nathan Troup, an Opera Institute lecturer, the music director is William Lumpkin, a CFA associate professor and Opera Institute music director, and the dramaturgists are Voth and Jerrold Pope, a CFA associate professor of music.
Hydrogen JukeboxMusic by Philip Glass | Libretto by Allen Ginsberg | Production Design by Jerome SirlinMartin Goldray – keyboards, Carol Wincenc – flute, Andrew Sterman – soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, Frank Cassara – percussion, James Pugliese – percussion, Richard Peck – tenor saxophone on “Song #7”VOCAL ENSEMBLE: Elizabeth Futral – soprano, Michele Eaton – soprano, Mary Ann Hart – mezzo-soprano, Richard Fracker – tenor, Gregory Purnhagen – baritone, Nathaniel Watson – baritoneAllen Ginsberg – narrator, Philip Glass – piano, Martin Goldray – conductorProduced by Kurt Munkacsi and Michael Riesman for Euphoria Productions. Ltd., NYC. Recorded 1992-1993 at The Looking Glass Studios, NYC. Engineers: Laura Fried, Anne Pope. Assistants: Dante de Sole, Skoti Elliott, James Law. Mixed at The Looking Glass Studios by Michael Reisman. Synthesizer programming by Miles Green and Martin Goldray. Design by James Victore Design Works Cover photograph: Sante Fe, New Mexico 1955/56, © Robert Frank. Philip Glass is represented by International Production Associates, Inc. NYC Music commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. William J. Gilliam in memory of Jeffrey E. Gilliam. Hydrogen Jukebox was commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA and the American Music Theater Festival. Stage Production by Top Shows, Inc.- Jedediah Wheeler, Producer. All works contained in the libretto are from Alien Ginsberg Collected Poems, 1947-1980. Copyright © 1984 by Alien Ginsberg. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Except: Song #12, N.S.A. DOPE CALYPSO. Copyright © 1990 by Alien Ginsberg. Reprinted with permission. Song #14, final verse, from White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 by Alien Ginsberg. Copyright © 1986 by Alien Ginsberg. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.PART ONE1 Song#l FROM IRON HORSE (6:40)Purnhagen, Ginsberg 2 Song #2 JAHWEH AND ALLAH BATTLE (3:40) Vocal Ensemble, Ginsberg 3 Song #3 FROM IRON HORSE (2:54) Futral, Hart, Fracker, Purnhagen, Watson, Ginsberg 4 Song#4 To P.O. (3:42) Fracker, Futral 5 Song #5 FROM CROSSING NATION; OVER DENVER AGAIN; GOING TO CHICAGO and To POE: OVER THE PLANET, AIR ALBANY-BALTIMORE (5:42) Vocal ensemble 6 Song #6 FROM WICHITA VORTEX SUTRA (7:45) Ginsberg Philip Glass, pianoPART TWO7 Song #7 from HOWL PART II (5:56) Vocal Ensemble, Watson, Ginsberg 8 Song #8 from CABIN IN THE ROCKIES (4:23) Futral 9 Song #9 from NAGASAKI DAYS (NUMBERS IN RED NOTEBOOK) (:40) Ginsberg 10 Song #10 AUNT ROSE (4:58) Fracker, Vocal ensemble (women) 11 Song #11 from THE GREEN AUTOMOBILE (6:00) Vocal ensemble 12 Song #12 fromN.S.A. DOPE CALYPSO (5:51) Vocal ensemble 13 Song #13 from NAGASAKI DAYS (EVERYBODY’S FANTASY} (4:56) Vocal ensemble 14 Song #14 AYERS ROCK/ULURU SONG and “THROW OUT THE YELLOW JOURNALISTS…” (4:08) Vocal ensemble, Futral, Fracker, Hart, Watson, Ginsberg 15 Song #15 FATHER DEATH BLUES (from DON’T GROW OLD) (5:12) Vocal ensembleIn 1988I accepted an invitation from Tom Bird of the Viet Nam Veteran Theater to perform at a benefit for the company. I happened to run into Allen Ginsberg at St. Mark’s bookshop in New York and asked him if he would perform with me. We were in the poetry section, and he grabbed a book from the shelf and pointed out WICHITA VORTEX SUTRA. The poem, written in 1966 and reflecting the anti-war mood of the times, seemed highly appropriate for the occasion. I composed a piano piece to accompany Alien’s reading, which took place at the Schubert Theater on Broadway.Allen and I so thoroughly enjoyed the collaboration that we soon began talking about expanding our performance into an evening-length music-theater work. It was right after the 1988 presidential election, and neither Bush nor Dukakis seemed to talk about anything that was going on. I remember saying to Allen, if these guys aren’t going to talk about the issues then we should.By the spring of 1989 we had invited designer Jerome Sirlin to join us in a series of meetings, mainly in Allen’s East Village apartment, in which we picked through his collected works to find a coherent “libretto.” Jerome began a series of drawings that would eventually form the sets and drops. Later on we were joined by director-choreographer Ann Carlson, who began discussing with us the staging of the work.By this time we had arrived at a scenario based on eighteen poems. Together they formed a “portrait” of America, at least in our eyes, that covered the ’50s, ‘6os, ’70s and ‘8os. It also ranged in content from highly personal poems of Allen’s to his reflection on social issues: the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution, drugs, Eastern philosophy, environmental awareness—all issues that seemed “counter-cultural” in their day. Now, in the late ‘8os, they seemed to have become more “mainstream” and yet, because of the power of Allen’s poetry, still with their youthful energy intact. Ann chose to stage the work by using the six vocal parts to represent six archetypal American characters—a waitress, a policewoman, a businessman, a priest, a mechanic and a cheerleader.In the past when I addressed social issues in music theater works I often used unfamiliar—even obscure—languages: Sanskrit for SATYAGRAHA, ancient Egyptian for AKHNATEN, Latin for the CIVIL WARS, or just numbers and syllables in EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH. With JUKEBOX I was working with a vernacular language that we all know. For this purpose nothing could be better than Allen’s poetry, because he is inventing a poetic language from the sounds and rhythms all around us—an American language that is logical, sensual, at times abstract and always expressive. Bringing music and language together can have a most powerful effect, literally joining the senses in a way that only opera can do.For me there are two considerations in setting text to music. There are the words themselves, which need to be set in the most natural way. With Allen’s poetry I was most intent on respecting the music that was already in the words. Then there is the musical environment into which the words are set. In the poem AUNT ROSE, for example, I used a 5/8 rhythm—a kind of lopsided rhythm—1-2,1-2-3. I heard the rhythm from the description of her foot: it’s a picture of someone who walks with a limp. That’s the only specific relation of the music to the words.A portrait in music need not be a complete portrait. If you have some indication, we as listeners will fill in the rest.The American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia hosted a series of performances early in the Spring of 1990, and the premiere of the finished work took place at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, in June of the same year. The small music ensemble of keyboards, winds and percussion with the six singers made for a music-theater ensemble which, along with Martin Goldray, the original music director, was able to tour the U.S. the following season.Taking this piece on tour completed something important. Alien and I have traveled around this country a lot. The piece is about that, and taking this on the road was in a way taking it back to the places where it was born. We’ve taken it to many different cities, and people recognize it—perhaps they see themselves in the portrait. — PHILIP GLASS
Philip Glass and Iand were influenced by Indian music, philosophy and meditation forms—particularly Buddhist, since we’re both Buddhist practitioners. So we’re moved to make a work that penetrates many psychological worlds at once, quite a large audience.Ultimately, the motif of HYDROGEN JUKEBOX, the underpinning, the secret message, secret activity, is to relieve human suffering by communicating some kind of enlightened awareness of various themes, topics, obsessions, neuroses, difficulties, problems, perplexities that we encounter as we end the millennium.So this “melodrama” is a millennial survey of what’s up—what’s on our minds, what’s the pertinent American and Planet News. Constructing the drama, we had the idea of the decline of empire, or Fall of America as “empire,” and even perhaps the loss of the planet over the next few hundred years. We made a list of things we wanted to cover—Philip and I and Jerome Serlin the scenerist—common questions. There was of course Buddhism, meditation, sex, sexual revolution—in my case awareness of homosexuality and Gay lib. There was the notion of corruption in politics, the corruption of empire at the top. There are the themes of art, travel, East-meets-West and ecology, which is on everyone’s mind. And war, of course, Peace, Pacifism.The title HYDROGEN JUKEBOX comes from a verse in the poem HOWL: “…listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox…” It signifies a state of hypertrophic high-tech, a psychological state in which people are at the limit of their sensory input with civilization’s military jukebox, a loud industrial roar, or a music that begins to shake the bones and penetrate the nervous system as a hydrogen bomb may do someday, reminder of apocalypse.Having decided the topics, we then found texts that covered them, and put a mosaic or tapestry together. So the drama is interlinked, hooked together thematically, though it’s not a “linear” story. Maybe more like a slow motion video. We began with heart prophesy of the Fall of America on a train, introducing the notion of Travel, and War, sung to “Who is the enemy, year after year,” what’s going on, how come all the bombs, “what’s the picture decade after decade”—whether from Vietnam or Granada or Panama, Iraq or what’ll be next, Peru? Nicaragua? take your choice. Then we focus on one big central war— JAHWEH AND ALLAH BATTLE—the Middle East.Following that, a switcheroo to interior reverie, going back to the subjective, we find ourselves in India, a theme of meditative subjectivity, here a fragment from Calcutta, a little personal scene, Peter Orlovsky’s birthday in 1962 age 29. Then traveling East to West, returning to America, surveying planetary ecological damage from a plane, or it might be post-nuclear wreckage. We move from San Francisco through Denver through Chicago, back to the East Coast. Shifting to the center of America—WICHITA VORTEX SUTRA—we make a unilateral declaration of the end of the war, a duet between myself and Philip that ends Part One. We used the poem’s central passage: I’m driving through the middle of Kansas talking to myself, saying, If the President can send troops over there and declare war on Indo-China, I can undeclare it. He doesn’t have any legal right—Congress never passed a formal declaration of war—and I don’t have any legal right. It’s simply up to us to assert our different direction of will, or different visions of the universe. My poetic visions are gonna outlast him, I thought, so “I here declare the end of the war.”Part Two begins centering in on Moloch, Part 11 of HOWL: the hyper-industrialized, hyper-technological Moloch consumes the planet, everyone’s thwarted desensitized or robotized by the inanimate conditioning hypnosis machine we’ve built around us. Then some statistics: the age of the universe, the age of the earth, and a few other hokey numbers.Having presented the problem, we present the medicine—several haikus, written on meditation retreat in the Rocky Mountains it so happens. Haiku perception in calm and peace with a very sweet aria, with a singer sitting on a Zen zafu and zabutan, in meditative posture.We return to family, to AUNT ROSE, staged with photographs of my family, Aunt Rose, Aunt Honey, my mother and father and myself in Woodstock 1936. Then the Gay lib theme, THE GREEN AUTOMOBILE, back across America, looking for love, the lover behind the poem—in this case actually, Neal Cassady, now quite well-known as the inspiration for Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD Hero, as well as Ken Kesey’s psychedelic bus driver.The climax of Part Two, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DOPE CALYPSO interleaved with the poem VIOLENCE, names the co-actors in U.S. government intelligence “off the shelf operations drawing on cocaine and marijuana smuggling to fund Contra arms. All the information’s “real,” taken straight from the papers of record and Senator Kerry’s Subcommittee investigating government involvement with dope pushing simultaneous with the fraudulent so-called war on Drugs. During that scene a flag is projected backstage with smoke coming out of it, while all these celestial dummy politicians dance madly.After all the noise and wild wisdom and political statement comes the post-nuclear moment—a series of codas which ends the opera. First, EVERYBODY’S FANTASY: skeletons holding hands trying to get across the stage after the nuke blast. Then a return to primordial civilization in the Central Australian Desert, using the single verse form of the Aboriginal songmen, singing during a nuclear winter, snow coming down. The last song, Buddhist-American threnody or Hymn, FATHER DEATH BLUES, written on the death of my father, philosophic reconciliation and peace, emotionally very calm, in six-part harmony a capella, quite sublime actually, as the finale. So that’s the melodrama. — ALLEN GINSBERG
PART ONESong 1 from IRON HORSELightning’s blue glare fills Oklahoma plains,
the train rolls east
casting yellow shadow on grass
Twenty years ago
cover Heaven’s corners
Feed Storage Elevators in gray rain mist,
checkerboard light over sky-roof
same electric lightning South
follows this train
the Fall of America
signaled from Heaven—
Ninety nine soldiers in uniform paid by the Government
ninety nine soldiers escaping the draft for an Army job,
ninety nine soldiers shaved
with nowhere to go but where told,
ninety nine soldiers seeing lightning flash—
a thousand years ago
Ten thousand Chinese marching on the plains
all turned their heads to Heaven at once to see the Moon.
An old man catching fireflies on the porch at night
watched the Herd Boy cross the Milky Way
to meet the Weaving Girl…
How can we war against that?
How can we war against that?
Too late, too late
the Iron Horse hurrying to war,
too late for laments
too late for warning—
I’m a stranger alone in my country again.Audio Player listen to Song 1 from IRON HORSE
Song 2 JAHWEH AND ALLAH BATTLEJaweh with Atom Bomb
Allah cuts throat of Infidels
Jaweh’s armies beat down neighboring tribes
Will Red Sea waters close 8c drown th’armies of Allah?Both Gods Terrible! Awful Jaweh Allah!
Both hook-nosed gods, circumcised.
Jaweh Allah which unreal?
Which stronger Illusion?
Which stronger Army?
Which gives most frightening command?
What God maintain egohood in Eden? Which be Nameless?
Which enter Abyss of Light?What Prophet born on this ground
bound me Eternal to Palestine
circled by Armies tanks, droning bomber motors,
radar electric computers?
HITLER AND STALIN SENT ME HERE!
WEIZMANN &BEN-GURION SENT ME HERE!
NASSER AND SADAT SENT ME HERE!
ARAFAT SENT ME HERE! MESSIAH SENT ME HERE!
GOD SENT ME HERE!
Buchenwald sent me here! Vietnam sent me here!
Mylai sent me here!
Lidice sent me here!
My mother sent me here!
I WAS BORN HERE IN ISRAEL,
Arab circumcised, my father had a coffee shop in Jerusalem
One day the Soldiers came Sc made me walk down road
my hands up
walk away leave my house business forever!
The Israelis sent me here!
Solomon’s Temple the Pyramids & Sphinx sent me here!
JAWEH AND ALLAH SENT ME HERE!The Americans & Russians are sending bombing planes tanks
Chinese Egyptians Syrians help me battle for my righteous
house my Soul’s dirt Spirit’s Nation body’s
boundaries & Self s territory my
Zionist homeland my Palestine inheritance
The Capitalist Communist & Third World Peoples’
Republics Dictatorships Police States Socialisms & Democracies
are all sending Deadly Weapons to our aid!
We shall triumph over the Enemy! This hill
Golgotha never forget, never relinquish
inhabit thru Eternity
under Allah Christ Yaweh forever one GodAudio Player listen to Song 2 JAHWEH AND ALLAH BATTLESong 3 from IRON HORSEWho’s the enemy, year after year?
War after war, who’s the enemy?
What’s the weapon, battle after battle?
What’s the news, defeat after defeat?
What’s the picture, decade after decade?Audio Player listen to Song 3 from IRON HOUSE
Song 4 To P.O.The whitewashed room,
of a third-rate Mohammedan hotel,
two beds, blurred fan
whirling over yr brown guitar
knapsack open on floor, towel
hanging from chair, Orange Crush,
brown paper manuscript packages,
Tibetan tankas, Gandhi pajamas,
Ramakrishna Gospel, bright umbrella
a mess on a rickety wooden stand,
the yellow wall-bulb lights up
this scene Calcutta for the thirtieth night—
Come in the green door, long Western gold
hair plastered down your shoulders
from shower: “Did we take our pills
this week for malaria?” Happy birthday
dear Peter, your 29th year.
Calcutta, July 8,1962Audio Player listen to Song 4 To P.O.Song 5 from CROSSING NATION; OVER DENVER AGAIN; GOING TO CHICAGO and TO POE: OVER THE PLANET, AIR ALBANY BALTIMOREUnder silver wing
San Francisco’s towers sprouting
thru thin gas clouds, Tamalpais black-breasted above Pacific azure
Berkeley hills pine-covered below—
Dr. Leary in his brown house scribing Independence Declaration
typewriter at window
silver panorama in natural eyeball—Sacramento valley rivercourse’s Chinese
dragonflames licking green flats north-hazed
State Capitol metallic rubble, dry checkered fields
to Sierras—past Reno, Pyramid Lake’s
blue Altar, pure water in Nevada sands’
brown wasteland scratched by tiresDenver with orange sunsets
&. giant airplanes winging silvery to San Francisco—
watchtowers thru red cold planet light, when the Earth Angel’s dead
the dead material planet’ll revolve robotlike
& insects hop back and forth between metallic cities.Audio Player listen to Song 5 from CROSSING NATION; OVER DENVER AGAIN; GOING TO CHICAGO and TO POE: OVER THE PLANET, AIR ALBANY BALTIMOREGOING TO CHICAGO22,000 feet over Hazed square Vegetable planet Floor
Approaching Chicago to Die or flying over Earth another 40 years
to die—Indifferent, and Afraid, that the bone-shattering bullet
be the same as the vast evaporation-of-phenomena Cancer
Come true in an old man’s bed.Many chimneys smoldering, city flats virus-linked
along Delaware bays under horizon-smog—
airplane drifting black vapor-filaments
above Wilmington—-The iron habitations
endless from Manhattan to the Capitol.
Poe! D’jya prophesy this Smogland, this Inferno,
Didja Dream Baltimore’d Be Seen From Heaven
by Man Poet’s eyes Astounded in the Fire Haze,
carbon Gas aghast!Song 6 from WICHITA VORTEX SUTRAI’m an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas
but not afraid
to speak my lonesomeness in a car,
because not only my lonesomeness
it’s Ours, all over America,
O tender fellows—
& spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy
in the moon 100 years ago or in
the middle of Kansas now.
It’s not the vast plains mute our mouths
that fill at midnite with ecstatic language
when our trembling bodies hold each other
breast to breast on a mattress—
Not the empty sky that hides
the feeling from our faces
nor our skirts and trousers that conceal
the bodylove emanating in a glow of beloved skin,
white smooth abdomen down to the hair
between our legs,
It’s not a God that bore us that forbid
our Being, like a sunny rose
all red with naked joy
between our eyes & bellies, yes
All we do is for this frightened thing
we call Love, want and lack—
fear that we aren’t the one whose body could be
beloved of all the brides of Kansas City,
kissed all over by every boy of Wichita—
O but how many in their solitude weep aloud like me—
On the bridge over Republican River
almost in tears to know
how to speak the right language—
on the frosty broad road
uphill between highway embankments
I search for the language
that is also yours—
almost all our language has been taxed by war.
Radio antennae high tension
wires ranging from Junction City across the plains—
highway cloverleaf sunk in a vast meadow
lanes curving past Abilene
to Denver filled with old
heroes of love—
to Wichita where McClure’s mind
burst into animal beauty
drunk, getting laid in a car
in a neon misted street
15 years ago—
to Independence where the old man’s still alive
who loosed the bomb that’s slaved all human consciousness
and made the body universe a place of fear—
Now, speeding along the empty plain,
no giant demon machine
visible on the horizon
but tiny human trees and wooden houses at the sky’s edge
I claim my birthright! Joy
reborn after the vast sadness of War Gods!
A lone man talking to myself, no house in the brown vastness to hear,
imagining the throng of Selves
that make this nation one body of Prophecy
languaged by Declaration as Pursuit of
I call all Powers of imagination
to my side in this auto to make Prophecy,
of human kingdoms to come
Shambu Bharti Baba naked covered with ash
Khaki Baba fat-bellied mad with the dogs
Dehorahava Baba who moans Oh how wounded, How wounded
Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur who commands
give up your desire
Satyananda who raises two thumbs in tranquillity
Kali Pada Guha Roy whose yoga drops before the void
Shivananda who touches the breast and says OM
Srimata Krishnaji of Brindaban who says take for your guru
William Blake the invisible father of English visions
Sri Ramakrishna master of ecstasy eyes
half closed who only cries for his mother
Chaitanya arms upraised singing & dancing his own praise
merciful Chango judging our bodies
Durga-Ma covered with blood
destroyer of battlefield illusions
million-faced Tathagata gone past suffering
Preserver Harekrishna returning in the age of pain
Sacred Heart my Christ acceptable
Allah the Compassionate One
Jaweh Righteous One
all Knowledge-Princes of Earth-man, all
ancient Seraphim of heavenly Desire, Devas, yogis
& holymen I chant to—
Come to my lone presence
into this Vortex named Kansas,
I lift my voice aloud,
make Mantra of American language now,
I here declare the end of the War!
Let the States tremble,
let the Nation weep,
let Congress legislate its own delight
let the President execute his own desire—
this Act done by my own voice,
published to my own senses,
blissfully received by my own form
approved with pleasure by my sensations
manifestation of my very thought
accomplished in my own imagination
all realms within my consciousness fulfilled
60 miles from Wichita
near El Dorado,
The Golden One,
in chill earthly mist
houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward in every direction
one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord—
Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower
where Florence is
set on a hill,
stop for tea & gas.Audio Player listen to Song 6 from WICHITA VORTEX SUTRASong 7 from HOWL PART IIWhat sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable 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 jail-house and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal 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 factories 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! Pavements, trees, radios,
tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere around 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! Despairs! 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
* The verse absent from HOWL PART II-was dropped for technical vocal reasons.—Allen GinsbergAudio Player listen to Song 7 from HOWL PART IISong 8 from CABIN IN THE WOODSSitting on a tree stump with half cup of tea,
sun down behind mountains—
Nothing to do.Not a word! Not a Word!
Flies do all my talking for me—
and the wind says something else.Fly on my nose,
I’m not the Buddha,
There’s no enlightenment here!In the half-light of dawn
A few birds warble
under the pleiades.An hour after dawn
I haven’t thought of Buddha once yet!
—walking back into the retreat house.Audio Player listen to Song 8 from CABIN IN THE WOODSSong 9 from NAGASAKI DAYS (EVERYBODY’S FANTASY)2,000,000 killed in Vietnam
13,000,000 refugees in Indochiona 1972
200,000,000 years for the Galaxy to revolve on its core
24,000 the Babylonian Great Year
24,000 half life of plutonium
2,000 the most I ever got for a poetry reading
80,000 dolphins killed in the dragnet
4,000,000,000 years earth been bornBoulder, Summer 1978Audio Player listen to Song 9 from NAGASAKI DAYS (EVERYBODY’S FANTASY)Song 10 AUNT ROSEAunt Rose—now—might I see you
with your thin face and buck tooth smile and pain
of rheumatism—and a long black heavy shoe
for your bony left leg
limping down the long hall in Newark on the running carpet
past the black grand piano
in the day room
where the parties were
and I sang Spanish loyalist songs
in a high squeaky voice
(hysterical) the committee listening
while you limped around the room
collected the money—
Aunt Honey, Uncle Sam, a stranger with a cloth arm
in his pocket
and huge young bald head
of Abraham Lincoln Brigade—your long sad face
your tears of sexual frustration
(what smothered sobs and bony hips
under the pillows of Osborne Terrace)
—the time I stood on the toilet seat naked
and you powdered rny thighs with calamine
against poison ivy—my tender
and shamed first black curled hairs
what “were you thinking in secret heart then
knowing me a man already—
and I an ignorant girl of family silence on thin pedestal
legs in the bathroom—Museum of Newark
Hitler is dead, Hitler is in Eternity; Hitler is with
Tamburlane and Emily BronteThough I see you walking still, a ghost on Osborne Terrace
down the long dark hall to the front door
limping a little with a pinched smile
in what must have been a silken
welcoming my father, the Poet, on his visit to Newark
—see you arriving in the living room
dancing on your crippled leg
and clapping hands his book
had been accepted by LiverightHitler is dead and Liveright’s gone out of business
The Attic of the Past and Everlasting Minute are out of print
Uncle Harry sold his last silk stocking
Claire quit interpretive dancing school
Buba sits a wrinkled monument in Old
Ladies Home blinking at babieslast time I saw you was the hospital
pale skull protruding under ashen skin
blue veined unconscious girl
in an oxygen tent
the war in Spain has ended long ago
Aunt RoseAudio Player listen to Song 10 AUNT ROSESong 11 from THE GREEN AUTOMOBILEIf I had a Green Automobile
I’d go find my old companion
in his house on the Western ocean.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!I’d honk my horn at his manly gate,
inside his wife and three
children sprawl naked
on the living room floor.He’d come running out
to my car full of heroic beer
and jump screaming at the wheel
for he is the greater driver.We’d pilgrimage to the highest mount
of our earlier Rocky Mountain visions
laughing in each other’s arms,
delight surpassing the highest Rockies,and after old agony, drunk “with new years,
bounding toward the snowy horizon
blasting the dashboard with original bop
hot rod on the mountainwe’d batter up the cloudy highway
where angels of anxiety
careen through the trees
and scream out of the engine.We’d burn all night on the jackpine peak
seen from Denver in the summer dark,
forestlike unnatural radiance
illuminating the mountaintop:childhood youthtime age & eternity
would open like sweet trees
in the nights of another spring
and dumbfound us with love,for we can see together
the beauty of souls
hidden like diamonds
in the clock of the world.like Chinese magicians can
confound the immortals
with our intellectuality
hidden in the mist,in the Green Automobile
which I have invented
imagined and visioned
on the roads of the worldmore real than the engine
on a track in the desert
purer than Greyhound
swifter than physical jetplane.Audio Player listen to Song 11 from THE GREEN AUTOMOBILESong 12 from N.S.A. DOPE CALYPSOMexcity drugstore table, giant
sexfiend in black spats
Sticks knife in a plump faggot’s
at Teotihuacan in blue sunlight, I slap
my blond nephew
got lost on the Moon
Pyramid.Richard Secord and Oliver North
Hated Sandinistas whatever they were worth
They peddled for the Contras to ease their pain
They couldn’t sell Congress so Contras sold CocaineThey discovered Noriega only yesterday
Nancy Reagan & the CIANew York on the stairway, the dumbed
whitef aced Junkie pulls a knife
and stares—the victim
gasps, “oh come off it” & a sixpack
bounces down worn black steps, in
Vietnam plastic fire
Streams down phantom cheeks
rayed over planet television—Milian told Congress three million coke bucks
Went to Felix Rodriguez CIA muck-a-muck
To give to the Contras only Hush Hush Hush
Except for Donald Gregg & his boss George BushIt was buried in the papers only yesterday
When Bush was Drug Czar, USAAdrenalin runs in armpits from Los Angeles
to Paris, Harlem & Cannes.
explode, Sunset Strip & Sorbonne
are crowded with angels
armed with gasmasks & Acid,
& Angry Democrats gather in Chicago
fantasizing armies running thru Sewers sprayed with Mace.Now Felix met Bush in his office many times
They didn’t talk business, drank lemon &. limes
Or maybe drank coffee or smoked a cigarette
But cocaine traffic they remembered to forgetIt was buried in the papers only yesterday
With Bush Vice President, USAI walk up Avenida Juarez, over
cobbled shadows, blue tiled streetlamps
lighting Sanborns’ arcades, behind me violent
chic fairy gangsters with bloody hands
hustle after midnight to cut my throat from
its beard.Now coke and grass were exchanged for guns
On a border airfield that John Hull runs
Or used to run till his Costa Rican bust
As a CIA spy trading Contra coke dustIt was featured in the papers only yesterday
And Bush is in the White House of the USAAudio Player listen to Song 12 from N.S.A. DOPE CALYPSOSong 13 NAGASAKI DAYS (EVERYBODY’S FANTASY)I walked outside & the bomb’d
dropped lots of plutonium
all over the Lower East Side
There weren’t any buildings left just
groceries burned, potholes open to
stinking sewer watersThere were people starving and crawling
across the desert
the Martian UFOs with blue
Light destroyer rays
passed over and dried up all the
watersCharred Amazon palmtrees for
hundreds of miles on both sides
of the riverAudio Player listen to Song 13 NAGASAKI DAYS (EVERYBODY’S FANTASY)Song 14 from AVERS ROCK/ULURU SONG and “THROW OUT THE YELLOW JOURNALISTS…”When the red pond fills fish appear
When the red pond dries fish disappear.
Everything built on the desert crumbles to dust.
Electric cable transmission wires swept down.
The lizard people came out of the rock.
The red Kangaroo people forgot their own song.
Only a man with four sticks can cross the Simpson Desert.
One rain turns red dust green with leaves.
One raindrop begins the universe.
When the raindrop dries, worlds come to their end.“Out! Out! into the Buddhafields, among stars to wander forever, weightless without a
headline, without thought, without newspapers to read by the light of the
Galaxies”.Audio Player listen to Song 14 from AVERS ROCK/ULURU SONG and “THROW OUT THE YELLOW JOURNALISTS…”Song 15 FATHER DEATH BLUES (from DON’T GROW OLD)1. Hey Father Death, I’m flying home
Hey poor man, you’re all alone
Hey old daddy, I know where I’m going2. Father Death, Don’t cry any more
Moma’s there, underneath the floor
Brother Death, please mind the store3. Old Auntie Death Don’t hide your bones
Old Uncle Death I hear your groans
O Sister Death how sweet your moans4. O Children Deaths go breathe your breaths
Sobbing breasts’ll ease your Deaths
Pain is gone, tears take the rest5. Genius Death your art is done
Lover Death your body’s gone
Father Death I’m coming home6. Guru Death your words are true
Teacher Death I do thank you
For inspiring me to sing this Blues7. Buddha Death, I wake with you
Dharma Death, your mind is new
Sangha Death, we’ll work it through8. Suffering is what was born
Ignorance made me forlorn
Tearful truths I cannot scorn9. Father Breath once more farewell
Birth you gave was no thing ill
My heart is still, as time will tell.ADDENDUM N.S.A. DOPE CALYPSOAdditional VersesRamon Milian Rodriguez of Medallin Cartel
Laundered their dollars he did it very well
Hundreds of billions through US banks
Till he got busted and sang in the tankIt was buried in the papers only yesterday
When Bush was Drug Czar, USAWhen Bush was director of the C.I.A.
Panama traffic in Coke was gay
You never used to hear George Bush holler
When Noriega laundered lots of Cocaine dollarBush paid Noriega, used to work together
They sat on a couch & talked about the weatherThen Noriega doublecrossed The Company
Like a crack head burn on Avenue D
So when he got in the big White House
Bush said Noriega was a Cocaine louseThe Cold War ended, East Europe found hope,
The U.S. got hooked in a war on dope.Glasnost came, East Europe got free,
So Bush sent his army to Panama City.
Bush’s guns in Panama did their worst
Like Coke fiends fighting on St. Marks’ & FirstDoes Noriega know Bush’s Company crimes?
In 2000 A.D. read the New York Times. February 1990