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Howl

Written by: Allen Ginsberg | Biography
 | Quotes (15) |
 For 
 Carl Solomon 


 I 

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by 
 madness, starving hysterical naked, 
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn 
 looking for an angry fix, 
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly 
 connection to the starry dynamo in the machin- 
 ery of night, 
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat 
 up smoking in the supernatural darkness of 
 cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities 
 contemplating jazz, 
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and 
 saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- 
 ment roofs illuminated, 
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes 
 hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy 
 among the scholars of war, 
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & 
 publishing obscene odes on the windows of the 
 skull, 
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- 
 ing their money in wastebaskets and listening 
 to the Terror through the wall, 
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through 
 Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, 
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in 
 Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their 
 torsos night after night 
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- 
 cohol and cock and endless balls, 
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and 
 lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of 
 Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- 
 tionless world of Time between, 
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery 
 dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, 
 storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon 
 blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree 
 vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook- 
 lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind, 
who chained themselves to subways for the endless 
 ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine 
 until the noise of wheels and children brought 
 them down shuddering mouth-wracked and 
 battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance 
 in the drear light of Zoo, 
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's 
 floated out and sat through the stale beer after 
 noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack 
 of doom on the hydrogen jukebox, 
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to 
 pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook- 
 lyn Bridge, 
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping 
 down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills 
 off Empire State out of the moon, 
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts 
 and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks 
 and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars, 
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days 
 and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the 
 Synagogue cast on the pavement, 
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a 
 trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic 
 City Hall, 
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- 
 ings and migraines of China under junk-with- 
 drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room, 
who wandered around and around at midnight in the 
 railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, 
 leaving no broken hearts, 
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing 
 through snow toward lonesome farms in grand- 
 father night, 
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep- 
 athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- 
 stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas, 
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- 
 ionary indian angels who were visionary indian 
 angels, 
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore 
 gleamed in supernatural ecstasy, 
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- 
 homa on the impulse of winter midnight street 
 light smalltown rain, 
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston 
 seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the 
 brilliant Spaniard to converse about America 
 and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship 
 to Africa, 
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving 
 behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees 
 and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire 
 place Chicago, 
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the 
 F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist 
 eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom- 
 prehensible leaflets, 
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting 
 the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, 
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union 
 Square weeping and undressing while the sirens 
 of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed 
 down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also 
 wailed, 
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked 
 and trembling before the machinery of other 
 skeletons, 
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight 
 in policecars for committing no crime but their 
 own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication, 
who howled on their knees in the subway and were 
 dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu- 
 scripts, 
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly 
 motorcyclists, and screamed with joy, 
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, 
 the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean 
 love, 
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose 
 gardens and the grass of public parks and 
 cemeteries scattering their semen freely to 
 whomever come who may, 
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up 
 with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath 
 when the blond & naked angel came to pierce 
 them with a sword, 
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate 
 the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar 
 the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb 
 and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but 
 sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden 
 threads of the craftsman's loom, 
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of 
 beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can- 
 dle and fell off the bed, and continued along 
 the floor and down the hall and ended fainting 
 on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and 
 come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness, 
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling 
 in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning 
 but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun 
 rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked 
 in the lake, 
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad 
 stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these 
 poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver--joy 
 to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls 
 in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' 
 rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with 
 gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet- 
 ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station 
 solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too, 
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in 
 dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and 
 picked themselves up out of basements hung 
 over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third 
 Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy- 
 ment offices, 
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on 
 the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the 
 East River to open to a room full of steamheat 
 and opium, 
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment 
 cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime 
 blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall 
 be crowned with laurel in oblivion, 
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested 
 the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of 
 Bowery, 
who wept at the romance of the streets with their 
 pushcarts full of onions and bad music, 
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the 
 bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in 
 their lofts, 
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned 
 with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded 
 by orange crates of theology, 
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty 
 incantations which in the yellow morning were 
 stanzas of gibberish, 
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht 
 & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable 
 kingdom, 
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for 
 an egg, 
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot 
 for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks 
 fell on their heads every day for the next decade, 
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess- 
 fully, gave up and were forced to open antique 
 stores where they thought they were growing 
 old and cried, 
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits 
 on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse 
 & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments 
 of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the 
 fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis- 
 ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the 
 drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, 
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- 
 pened and walked away unknown and forgotten 
 into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley 
 ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer, 
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of 
 the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- 
 saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, 
 danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed 
 phonograph records of nostalgic European 
 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and 
 threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans 
 in their ears and the blast of colossal steam 
 whistles, 
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying 
 to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude 
 watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation, 
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out 
 if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had 
 a vision to find out Eternity, 
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who 
 came back to Denver & waited in vain, who 
 watched over Denver & brooded & loned in 
 Denver and finally went away to find out the 
 Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes, 
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying 
 for each other's salvation and light and breasts, 
 until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, 
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for 
 impossible criminals with golden heads and the 
 charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet 
 blues to Alcatraz, 
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky 
 Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys 
 or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or 
 Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the 
 daisychain or grave, 
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp 
 notism & were left with their insanity & their 
 hands & a hung jury, 
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism 
 and subsequently presented themselves on the 
 granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads 
 and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in- 
 stantaneous lobotomy, 
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin 
 Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- 
 therapy occupational therapy pingpong & 
 amnesia, 
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic 
 pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia, 
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of 
 blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad 
 man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the 
 East, 
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid 
 halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- 
 ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench 
 dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- 
 mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the 
 moon, 
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book 
 flung out of the tenement window, and the last 
 door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone 
 slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- 
 nished room emptied down to the last piece of 
 mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted 
 on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that 
 imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of 
 hallucination--
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and 
 now you're really in the total animal soup of 
 time--
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed 
 with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use 
 of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat- 
 ing plane, 
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space 
 through images juxtaposed, and trapped the 
 archangel of the soul between 2 visual images 
 and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun 
 and dash of consciousness together jumping 
 with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna 
 Deus 
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human 
 prose and stand before you speechless and intel- 
 ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con- 
 fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm 
 of thought in his naked and endless head, 
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, 
 yet putting down here what might be left to say 
 in time come after death, 
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in 
 the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the 
 suffering of America's naked mind for love into 
 an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone 
 cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio 
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered 
 out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand 
 years. 

 II 

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open 
 their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- 
 nation? 
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob 
 tainable 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 jailhouse and Congress of 
 sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! 
 Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun- 
 ned governments! 
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose 
 blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers 
 are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni- 
 bal 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 fac- 
 tories 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! Pave- 
 ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to 
 Heaven which exists and is everywhere about 
 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! De- 
 spairs! 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! 

 III

Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you're madder than I am 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you must feel very strange 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you imitate the shade of my mother 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you've murdered your twelve secretaries 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you laugh at this invisible humor 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where we are great writers on the same dreadful 
 typewriter 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where your condition has become serious and 
 is reported on the radio 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where the faculties of the skull no longer admit 
 the worms of the senses 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you drink the tea of the breasts of the 
 spinsters of Utica 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the 
 harpies of the Bronx 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you scream in a straightjacket that you're 
 losing the game of the actual pingpong of the 
 abyss 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul 
 is innocent and immortal it should never die 
 ungodly in an armed madhouse 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where fifty more shocks will never return your 
 soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a 
 cross in the void 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you accuse your doctors of insanity and 
 plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the 
 fascist national Golgotha 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where you will split the heavens of Long Island 
 and resurrect your living human Jesus from the 
 superhuman tomb 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com- 
 rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where we hug and kiss the United States under 
 our bedsheets the United States that coughs all 
 night and won't let us sleep 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 where we wake up electrified out of the coma 
 by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the 
 roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the 
 hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col- 
 lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry 
 spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is 
 here O victory forget your underwear we're 
 free 
I'm with you in Rockland 
 in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- 
 journey on the highway across America in tears 
 to the door of my cottage in the Western night 

 San Francisco 1955-56



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