A fragment from “whimper (with apologies to allen ginsberg)”


February 8, 2013 by jmar198013

Back in 2002-2003, I sat about composing an epic slice of free verse called, “whimper,” which was supposed to be a millennial response/rejoinder/recapitulation of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” Unfortunately (or perhaps not, as the case may be) most of it was lost and this fragment is all that remains. Enjoy or don’t.


…and there i am surrounded by bald hawaiins who cast
loaded runes and deal tarot with marked decks
and james who on his 7.00 am front porch nursing hangover
lights a viceroy blinking against the sun and goes off to work
where he cuts tombstones with his father. then there is confused
pathological punk rock liar 12-year-old boy, who calls your house at 1.00 in the morning because he just remembered
his own mortality. and see that guy over there with his guitar? he has bottled an ‘eli eli lamma sabachthani’ howl into every song now wants to
trade them for cash. and i am in the midst of them. i am in the mix of
them. i am up next!
and all around me there are speed-laden poverty maidens
who carry scars of emotional crucifixions, with holes in their shoes
from running running running escapes from wreckage
into infernos, from infernos into wilderness, and always running
and always so tired so spiritworn and soulviolated heartstripped
and mindmangled and you don’t know the effects you had on me
you’ll never know how your biorhythm perfumes made my mind
to wander down darkest alleys as you sat at tables with me
and poured your lonely on me and burst into my lonely and stole
my lonely from me and tore it apart. you’ll never know how my
thoughts wandered into vexation those nights when we climbed
into the crevices, climbing the natural stairs up beside Big Spring…

as i reached out to touch your…depersonalization…ah poverty maiden!
so ugly, yet i longed to kiss you and smother your desperation
to comprehend your china doll complexion and venus de milo arms
your candy lips and your doric legs and your hair flapping like
black satin curtains and your warrior breasts…you were so un-lovely
you tempted me to try and love you.


One thought on “A fragment from “whimper (with apologies to allen ginsberg)”

  1. kvennarad says:

    I think you should sit down and tackle the whole thing again (said the author who is perpetually trapped in a room full of unfinished projects). Seriously, if ‘Howl’ moves you that much, then complete your 21c response to one of the most formidable poems of the 20c.

    Recently I borrowed (briefly) the published drafts of ‘Howl’, in which all Ginsberg’s revisions may be seen. I believe Jack Kerouac was angry with him for revising the poem at all – he would have preferred Ginsberg’s words ‘raw’, I guess. However, Ginsberg was acutely aware of form (as I think he shows in one of the ‘Paris Interviews’ – not sure about this, I can’t find the book) and ‘Howl’ is surprisingly formal, which is what gives it its declamatory power. I think you should read through ‘Howl’ again, or better still read through it whilst listening to it on YouTube, then stop and think what you would really like to say in reply… then just go for it!

    Marie Marshall

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