Howl Now

Living Soul Rap: In Memory of Allen Ginsberg

There’s a million men on my right hand,
and a million on my left,
There’s a million men above me,
And a million underneath.
And it’s dark and it’s quiet, and it’s warm and it’s damp,
And we’re lyin’ still like lumber, still and breathing…
But not one in all those millions will ever speak a word,
Not one, not one in all those millions will ever speak a word:
For our lips are shut forever,
And our tongues are down our throats,
And our eyes are wide as rat holes
Eyes black and filled with nothing,
Filled with nothing but the dark —
Oh god, oh god! not a word from all these millions in the dark!
For we’re resting and we’re sighing,
And we’re waiting for an end,
Waiting for the end to come.

And we’re stacked up on each other
Under pressure in the dark,
Till our bones crack through each other,
And we fuse and join like lovers,
Rotting slowly hard together in the dark.
Like clay and mud we’re fusing, fusing in the dark,
And our flesh and bones are turning into shit.
While we’re waiting here and thinking,
Oh god! how hard we’re thinking in the dark…

And man, it’s one tremendous thought,
A thought that sounds like prayer: God! oh god, oh god!
Coming bubbling, bursting up like prayer, Oh, God!
Dont you hear it all the time?
Saying, We’re here! We’re here!
Whispering day and night together,
We’re here, we’re all down here, we’re here!
Whispering forever, We’re all down here, oh god! we’re here!
While the earth revolves around us:
Sliding, cracking, heaving, groaning,
Folding up like boiling mush —
Continents and oceans grinding,
Grinding everyone to slush!

The waters far above us,
And the mountains pressing down,
And rains of fire blowing, blowing burning sparks that fall,
Falling fires falling through the stone and darkness
Till we burn with life and death —
But we cannot move a muscle
Not a twinge can cross our face,
For we’re lying packed here thinking:
This is such an awful place!
Thinking one, silent, roaring thought:
This is sure an awful place! god, oh god, oh god!
But — we thank you for this place!
We thank you, thank you, thank you, God!
We sure do thank you for this place!

Since there’s neither hell nor heaven,
But the world is all there is,
And it has to start and finish like a thing,
A thing like you, a thing like me —
And it seems to have no purpose, like a thing —
A thing like you and me, oh god!
But to bring us into being,
And then to leave us here!
With our thoughts that never stop,
Like consciousness, like prayer!
So we lie here stuck together,
Calling out, Oh god! oh god! oh god!
If you listen hard and long,
If you listen carefully,
You will hear us calling out, God, oh god, oh god!

And you know it’s where you’ll be:
Packed in shit and garbage
With everything that’s been,
Every thing that’s ever been!
And waiting for the others, God, oh god!
And thinking thinking thinking:
We’re here, oh God! forever!
Packed into shit and garbage
With everything thing that’s ever been!
We’re here, oh god! forever!
We’re here, we’re here, we’re here!

* Text first appeared in Christmas Carols and Other Plays.

Jascha Kessler has published seven books of poetry and fiction, as well as six volumes of translations of poetry and fiction from Hungarian, Persian, Serbian and Bulgarian, several of which have been awarded major prizes.