Just now I saw Allen Ginsberg from my bedroom window on the fire stairs.
It’s been a while, David, he said with his graybeard smile.
Don’t be alarmed. Blake came to me the same way.
An apparition of your innermost thoughts.
I see you’re writing poetry again. Good.
You recall I was a famous poet once though no breathing boy gives a damn now.
No one hears my incantations of rapid rectal rhapsodies, and sizzling sphincter symphonies.
The agony, David, the agony.
I still cannot purge the urge to merge with red-cheeked boyfriends.
My hands slip through their throbbing bodies. They feel nothing but
The rustling of the winds through the ice-packed tree branches outside.
My perpetual phantom hard-on with no relief is beyond belief. I feel that which I no longer have.
I saw you read my funeral poem, Death & Fame, the other day. You liked it.
The real thing was a disappointment, though: my public life privatized with no young or aging boyfriends
Exchanging gossip but some aged bodies that’d follow me soon to dust.
Absent was the boy I had mentioned in class to you who to my amazement had offered himself to me
For a poem in a sultry Parisian apartment…
Just now, I saw Walt Whitman. He can’t get relief either.
You would think seeing him would beat sleeping with a man
Who slept with a man who slept with a man who slept with Walt.
Walt screams passion all day. No body hears him either and the sleepy souls don’t care.
Now, I really get József Attila, the Hungarian poet—last name first—you translated on my couch. I’ve got no
Father, nor mother, neither God, nor country.
The original Hungarian rhymes. Translations suck. Attila told me he can’t believe he’s dead.
Taught you first thought best thought. Update: last thought worst thought as your breathing stops.
David, do you really think it’s Allen Ginsberg speaking through you right now?
Nobody said Kaddish for me, either.
The world is still fucked. You can print that, too. I miss the world.
Poetry is not dead after the Holocaust. The Holocaust is dead after poetry.
Naomi and Louis I am yet to see again. Someone had locked their key away.
It was not in the window. Mother now knows I didn’t turn out the way she had always hoped.
Medications, dedications, radiators hissing, Syria in flames, bearded people pissing,
Palestine in Israel, metaphysics, God, spirits, ghosts, bodies, publishers, poems, church steeples,
Liver cancer, hepatitis C, more medications, no dedications, snuff, cold earth, rain, sunshine in the window, no marriage for Allen ever, plump Peter sitting in a chair, German boy porn, red ceramic toilet, Chinese food With a switch-blade knife, notebooks with some of my notes, mountains of audio tapes nobody can play full of my
Voice, Gomel Chesed Cemetery in New Jersey with a third of my ashes.
I don’t want to drift away yet. Think of me more. I want to think through you always.
Am I America? I am you.
You imagine I’m speaking through you, David.
You are speaking through me.
You’re trying to use me with no shame.
So, use me.
–A poem by David Mandler © All rights reserved
On the 18th anniversary of Allen Gisnberg’s death (April 5, 1997)
Read David Mandler’s short story, “The Loft” on amazon.com.