Allen Ginsberg |
In the depths of the Greyhound Terminal
sitting dumbly on a baggage truck looking at the sky
waiting for the Los Angeles Express to depart
worrying about eternity over the Post Office roof in
the night-time red downtown heaven
staring through my eyeglasses I realized shuddering
these thoughts were not eternity, nor the poverty
of our lives, irritable baggage clerks,
nor the millions of weeping relatives surrounding the
buses waving goodbye,
nor other millions of the poor rushing around from
city to city to see their loved ones,
nor an indian dead with fright talking to a huge cop
by the Coke machine,
nor this trembling old lady with a cane taking the last
trip of her life,
nor the red-capped cynical porter collecting his quar-
ters and smiling over the smashed baggage,
nor me looking around at the horrible dream,
nor mustached negro Operating Clerk named Spade,
dealing out with his marvelous long hand the
fate of thousands of express packages,
nor fairy Sam in the basement limping from leaden
trunk to trunk,
nor Joe at the counter with his nervous breakdown
smiling cowardly at the customers,
nor the grayish-green whale's stomach interior loft
where we keep the baggage in hideous racks,
hundreds of suitcases full of tragedy rocking back and
forth waiting to be opened,
nor the baggage that's lost, nor damaged handles,
nameplates vanished, busted wires & broken
ropes, whole trunks exploding on the concrete
nor seabags emptied into the night in the final
Yet Spade reminded me of Angel, unloading a bus,
dressed in blue overalls black face official Angel's work-
pushing with his belly a huge tin horse piled high with
looking up as he passed the yellow light bulb of the loft
and holding high on his arm an iron shepherd's crook.
It was the racks, I realized, sitting myself on top of
them now as is my wont at lunchtime to rest
my tired foot,
it was the racks, great wooden shelves and stanchions
posts and beams assembled floor to roof jumbled
--the Japanese white metal postwar trunk gaudily
flowered & headed for Fort Bragg,
one Mexican green paper package in purple rope
adorned with names for Nogales,
hundreds of radiators all at once for Eureka,
crates of Hawaiian underwear,
rolls of posters scattered over the Peninsula, nuts to
one human eye for Napa,
an aluminum box of human blood for Stockton
and a little red package of teeth for Calistoga-
it was the racks and these on the racks I saw naked
in electric light the night before I quit,
the racks were created to hang our possessions, to keep
us together, a temporary shift in space,
God's only way of building the rickety structure of
to hold the bags to send on the roads, to carry our
luggage from place to place
looking for a bus to ride us back home to Eternity
where the heart was left and farewell tears
A swarm of baggage sitting by the counter as the trans-
continental bus pulls in.
The clock registering 12:15 A.
, May 9, 1956, the
second hand moving forward, red.
Getting ready to load my last bus.
Creek Richmond Vallejo Portland Pacific
Fleet-footed Quicksilver, God of transience.
One last package sits lone at midnight sticking up out
of the Coast rack high as the dusty fluorescent
The wage they pay us is too low to live on.
reduced to numbers.
This for the poor shepherds.
I am a communist.
Farewell ye Greyhound where I suffered so much,
hurt my knee and scraped my hand and built
my pectoral muscles big as a vagina.
May 9, 1956
John Wilmot |
At five this morn, when Phoebus raised his head
From Thetis' lap, I raised myself from bed,
And mounting steed, I trotted to the waters
The rendesvous of fools, buffoons, and praters,
Cuckolds, whores, citizens, their wives and daughters.
My squeamish stomach I with wine had bribed
To undertake the dose that was prescribed;
But turning head, a sudden curséd view
That innocent provision overthrew,
And without drinking, made me purge and spew.
From coach and six a thing unweildy rolled,
Whose lumber, card more decently would hold.
As wise as calf it looked, as big as bully,
But handled, proves a mere Sir Nicholas Cully;
A bawling fop, a natural Nokes, and yet
He dares to censure as if he had wit.
To make him more ridiculous, in spite
Nature contrived the fool should be a knight.
Though he alone were dismal signet enough,
His train contributed to set him off,
All of his shape, all of the selfsame stuff.
No spleen or malice need on them be thrown:
Nature has done the business of lampoon,
And in their looks their characters has shown.
Endeavoring this irksome sight to balk,
And a more irksome noise, their silly talk,
I silently slunk down t' th' Lower Walk,
But often when one would Charybdis shun,
Down upon Scilla 'tis one's fate to run,
For here it was my curséd luck to find
As great a fop, though of another kind,
A tall stiff fool that walked in Spanish guise:
The buckram puppet never stirred its eyes,
But grave as owl it looked, as woodcock wise.
He scorns the empty talking of this mad age,
And speaks all proverbs, sentences, and adage;
Can with as much solemnity buy eggs
As a cabal can talk of their intrigues;
Master o' th' Ceremonies, yet can dispense
With the formality of talking sense.
From hence unto the upper walk I ran,
Where a new scene of foppery began.
A tribe of curates, priests, canonical elves,
Fit company for none besides themselves,
Were got together.
Each his distemper told,
Scurvy, stone, strangury; some were so bold
To charge the spleen to be their misery,
And on that wise disease brought infamy.
But none had modesty enough t' complain
Their want of learning, honesty, and brain,
The general diseases of that train.
These call themselves ambassadors of heaven,
And saucily pretend commissions given;
But should an Indian king, whose small command
Seldom extends beyond ten miles of land,
Send forth such wretched tools in an ambassage,
He'd find but small effects of such a message.
Listening, I found the cob of all this rabble
Pert Bays, with his importance comfortable.
He, being raised to an archdeaconry
By trampling on religion, liberty,
Was grown to great, and looked too fat and jolly,
To be disturbed with care and melancholy,
Though Marvell has enough exposed his folly.
He drank to carry off some old remains
His lazy dull distemper left in 's veins.
Let him drink on, but 'tis not a whole flood
Can give sufficient sweetness to his blood
To make his nature of his manners good.
Next after these, a fulsome Irish crew
Of silly Macs were offered to my view.
The things did talk, but th' hearing what they said
I did myself the kindness to evade.
Nature has placed these wretches beneath scorn:
They can't be called so vile as they are born.
Amidst the crowd next I myself conveyed,
For now were come, whitewash and paint being laid,
Mother and daughter, mistress and the maid,
And squire with wig and pantaloon displayed.
But ne'er could conventicle, play, or fair
For a true medley, with this herd compare.
Here lords, knights, squires, ladies and countesses,
Chandlers, mum-bacon women, sempstresses
Were mixed together, nor did they agree
More in their humors than their quality.
Here waiting for gallant, young damsel stood,
Leaning on cane, and muffled up in hood.
The would-be wit, whose business was to woo,
With hat removed and solemn scrape of shoe
Advanceth bowing, then genteelly shrugs,
And ruffled foretop into order tugs,
And thus accosts her: "Madam, methinks the weather
Is grown much more serene since you came hither.
You influence the heavens; but should the sun
Withdraw himself to see his rays outdone
By your bright eyes, they would supply the morn,
And make a day before the day be born.
With mouth screwed up, conceited winking eyes,
And breasts thrust forward, "Lord, sir!" she replies.
"It is your goodness, and not my deserts,
Which makes you show this learning, wit, and parts.
He, puzzled, butes his nail, both to display
The sparkling ring, and think what next to say,
And thus breaks forth afresh: "Madam, egad!
Your luck at cards last night was very bad:
At cribbage fifty-nine, and the next show
To make the game, and yet to want those two.
God damn me, madam, I'm the son of a whore
If in my life I saw the like before!"
To peddler's stall he drags her, and her breast
With hearts and such-like foolish toys he dressed;
And then, more smartly to expound the riddle
Of all his prattle, gives her a Scotch fiddle.
Tired with this dismal stuff, away I ran
Where were two wives, with girl just fit for man -
Short-breathed, with pallid lips and visage wan.
Some curtsies past, and the old compliment
Of being glad to see each other, spent,
With hand in hand they lovingly did walk,
And one began thus to renew the talk:
"I pray, good madam, if it may be thought
No rudeness, what cause was it hither brought
Your ladyship?" She soon replying, smiled,
"We have a good estate, but have no child,
And I'm informed these wells will make a barren
Woman as fruitful as a cony warren.
The first returned, "For this cause I am come,
For I can have no quietness at home.
My husband grumbles though we have got one,
This poor young girl, and mutters for a son.
And this is grieved with headache, pangs, and throes;
Is full sixteen, and never yet had those.
She soon replied, "Get her a husband, madam:
I married at that age, and ne'er had 'em;
Was just like her.
Steel waters let alone:
A back of steel will bring 'em better down.
And ten to one but they themselves will try
The same means to increase their family.
Poor foolish fribble, who by subtlety
Of midwife, truest friend to lechery,
Persuaded art to be at pains and charge
To give thy wife occasion to enlarge
Thy silly head! For here walk Cuff and Kick,
With brawny back and legs and potent prick,
Who more substantially will cure thy wife,
And on her half-dead womb bestow new life.
From these the waters got the reputation
Of good assistants unto generation.
Some warlike men were now got into th' throng,
With hair tied back, singing a bawdy song.
Not much afraid, I got a nearer view,
And 'twas my chance to know the dreadful crew.
They were cadets, that seldom can appear:
Damned to the stint of thirty pounds a year.
With hawk on fist, or greyhound led in hand,
The dogs and footboys sometimes they command.
But now, having trimmed a cast-off spavined horse,
With three hard-pinched-for guineas in their purse,
Two rusty pistols, scarf about the arse,
Coat lined with red, they here presume to swell:
This goes for captain, that for colonel.
So the Bear Garden ape, on his steed mounted,
No longer is a jackanapes accounted,
But is, by virtue of his trumpery, then
Called by the name of "the young gentleman.
Bless me! thought I, what thing is man, that thus
In all his shapes, he is ridiculous?
Ourselves with noise of reason we do please
In vain: humanity's our worst disease.
Thrice happy beasts are, who, because they be
Of reason void, and so of foppery.
Faith, I was so ashamed that with remorse
I used the insolence to mount my horse;
For he, doing only things fit for his nature,
Did seem to me by much the wiser creature.
Dame Edith Sitwell |
Cried the navy-blue ghost
The allegro Negro cocktail-shaker,
"Why did the cock crow,
Why am I lost,
Down the endless road to Infinity toss'd?
The tropical leaves are whispering white
As water; I race the wind in my flight.
The white lace houses are carried away
By the tide; far out they float and sway.
White is the nursemaid on the parade.
Is she real, as she flirts with me unafraid?
I raced through the leaves as white as water.
Ghostly, flowed over the nursemaid, caught her,
edging the far-off sand
Is the foam of the sirens' Metropole and Grand;
And along the parade I am blown and lost,
Down the endless road to Infinity toss'd.
The guinea-fowl-plumaged houses sleep.
On one, I saw the lone grass weep,
Where only the whimpering greyhound wind
Chased me, raced me, for what it could find.
And there in the black and furry boughs
How slowly, coldly, old Time grows,
Where the pigeons smelling of gingerbread,
And the spectacled owls so deeply read,
And the sweet ring-doves of curded milk
Watch the Infanta's gown of silk
In the ghost-room tall where the governante
Gesticulates lente and walks andante.
'Madam, Princesses must be obedient;
For a medicine now becomes expedient--
Of five ingredients--a diapente,
Said the governante, fading lente.
In at the window then looked he,
The navy-blue ghost of Mr.
The allegro Negro cocktail-shaker--
And his flattened face like the moon saw she--
Rhinoceros-black (a flowing sea!).
Stephen Vincent Benet |
It was not when temptation came,
Swiftly and blastingly as flame,
And seared me white with burning scars;
When I stood up for age-long wars
And held the very Fiend at grips;
When all my mutinous body rose
To range itself beside my foes,
And, like a greyhound in the slips,
The Beast that dwells within me roared,
Lunging and straining at his cord.
For all the blusterings of Hell,
It was not then I slipped and fell;
For all the storm, for all the hate,
I kept my soul inviolate!
But when the fight was fought and won,
And there was Peace as still as Death
On everything beneath the sun.
Just as I started to draw breath,
And yawn, and stretch, and pat myself,
-- The grass began to whisper things --
And every tree became an elf,
That grinned and chuckled counsellings:
Birds, beasts, one thing alone they said,
Beating and dinning at my head.
I could not fly.
I could not shun it.
Slimily twisting, slow and blind,
It crept and crept into my mind.
Whispered and shouted, sneered and laughed,
Screamed out until my brain was daft.
One snaky word, "What if you'd done it?"
And I began to think .
What matter how I slipped and fell?
Or you, you gutter-searcher say!
Tell where you found me yesterday!
Andrew Barton Paterson |
You never heard tell of the story?
Well, now, I can hardly believe!
Never heard of the honour and glory
Of Pardon, the son of Reprieve?
But maybe you're only a Johnnie
And don't know a horse from a hoe?
Well, well, don't get angry, my sonny,
But, really, a young un should know.
They bred him out back on the "Never",
His mother was Mameluke breed.
To the front -- and then stay there - was ever
The root of the Mameluke creed.
He seemed to inherit their wiry
Strong frames -- and their pluck to receive --
As hard as a flint and as fiery
Was Pardon, the son of Reprieve.
We ran him at many a meeting
At crossing and gully and town,
And nothing could give him a beating --
At least when our money was down.
For weight wouldn't stop him, nor distance,
Nor odds, though the others were fast;
He'd race with a dogged persistence,
And wear them all down at the last.
At the Turon the Yattendon filly
Led by lengths at the mile-and-a-half,
And we all began to look silly,
While her crowd were starting to laugh;
But the old horse came faster and faster,
His pluck told its tale, and his strength,
He gained on her, caught her, and passed her,
And won it, hands down, by a length.
And then we swooped down on Menindie
To run for the President's Cup;
Oh! that's a sweet township -- a shindy
To them is board, lodging, and sup.
Eye-openers they are, and their system
Is never to suffer defeat;
It's "win, tie, or wrangle" -- to best 'em
You must lose 'em, or else it's "dead heat".
We strolled down the township and found 'em
At drinking and gaming and play;
If sorrows they had, why they drowned 'em,
And betting was soon under way.
Their horses were good uns and fit uns,
There was plenty of cash in the town;
They backed their own horses like Britons,
And, Lord! how we rattled it down!
With gladness we thought of the morrow,
We counted our wages with glee,
A simile homely to borrow --
"There was plenty of milk in our tea.
You see we were green; and we never
Had even a thought of foul play,
Though we well might have known that the clever
Division would "put us away".
Experience docet, they tell us,
At least so I've frequently heard;
But, "dosing" or "stuffing", those fellows
Were up to each move on the board:
They got to his stall -- it is sinful
To think what such villains will do --
And they gave him a regular skinful
Of barley -- green barley -- to chew.
He munched it all night, and we found him
Next morning as full as a hog --
The girths wouldn't nearly meet round him;
He looked like an overfed frog.
We saw we were done like a dinner --
The odds were a thousand to one
Against Pardon turning up winner,
'Twas cruel to ask him to run.
We got to the course with our troubles,
A crestfallen couple were we;
And we heard the " books" calling the doubles --
A roar like the surf of the sea.
And over the tumult and louder
Rang "Any price Pardon, I lay!"
Says Jimmy, "The children of Judah
Are out on the warpath today.
Three miles in three heats: -- Ah, my sonny,
The horses in those days were stout,
They had to run well to win money;
I don't see such horses about.
Your six-furlong vermin that scamper
Half-a-mile with their feather-weight up,
They wouldn't earn much of their damper
In a race like the President's Cup.
The first heat was soon set a-going;
The Dancer went off to the front;
The Don on his quarters was showing,
With Pardon right out of the hunt.
He rolled and he weltered and wallowed --
You'd kick your hat faster, I'll bet;
They finished all bunched, and he followed
All lathered and dripping with sweat.
But troubles came thicker upon us,
For while we were rubbing him dry
The stewards came over to warn us:
"We hear you are running a bye!
If Pardon don't spiel like tarnation
And win the next heat -- if he can --
He'll earn a disqualification;
Just think over that now, my man!"
Our money all gone and our credit,
Our horse couldn't gallop a yard;
And then people thought that we did it
It really was terribly hard.
We were objects of mirth and derision
To folks in the lawn and the stand,
Anf the yells of the clever division
Of "Any price Pardon!" were grand.
We still had a chance for the money,
Two heats remained to be run:
If both fell to us -- why, my sonny,
The clever division were done.
And Pardon was better, we reckoned,
His sickness was passing away,
So we went to the post for the second
And principal heat of the day.
They're off and away with a rattle,
Like dogs from the leashes let slip,
And right at the back of the battle
He followed them under the whip.
They gained ten good lengths on him quickly
He dropped right away from the pack;
I tell you it made me feel sickly
To see the blue jacket fall back.
Our very last hope had departed --
We thought the old fellow was done,
When all of a sudden he started
To go like a shot from a gun.
His chances seemed slight to embolden
Our hearts; but, with teeth firmly set,
We thought, "Now or never! The old un
May reckon with some of 'em yet.
Then loud rose the war-cry for Pardon;
He swept like the wind down the dip,
And over the rise by the garden
The jockey was done with the whip.
The field was at sixes and sevens --
The pace at the first had been fast --
And hope seemed to drop from the heavens,
For Pardon was coming at last.
And how he did come! It was splendid;
He gained on them yards every bound,
Stretching out like a greyhound extended,
His girth laid right down on the ground.
A shimmer of silk in the cedars
As into the running they wheeled,
And out flashed the whips on the leaders,
For Pardon had collared the field.
Then right through the ruck he was sailing --
I knew that the battle was won --
The son of Haphazard was failing,
The Yattendon filly was done;
He cut down The Don and The Dancer,
He raced clean away from the mare --
He's in front! Catch him now if you can, sir!
And up went my hat in the air!
Then loud fron the lawn and the garden
Rose offers of "Ten to one on!"
"Who'll bet on the field? I back Pardon!"
No use; all the money was gone.
He came for the third heat light-hearted,
A-jumping and dancing about;
The others were done ere they started
Crestfallen, and tired, and worn out.
He won it, and ran it much faster
Than even the first, I believe;
Oh, he was the daddy, the master,
Was Pardon, the son of Reprieve.
He showed 'em the method of travel --
The boy sat still as a stone --
They never could see him for gravel;
He came in hard-held, and alone.
* * * * * * *
But he's old -- and his eyes are grown hollow
Like me, with my thatch of the snow;
When he dies, then I hope I may follow,
And go where the racehorses go.
I don't want no harping nor singing --
Such things with my style don't agree;
Where the hoofs of the horses are ringing
There's music sufficient for me.
And surely the thoroughbred horses
Will rise up again and begin
Fresh faces on far-away courses,
And p'raps they might let me slip in.
It would look rather well the race-card on
'Mongst Cherubs and Seraphs and things,
"Angel Harrison's black gelding Pardon,
Blue halo, white body and wings.
And if they have racing hereafter,
(And who is to say they will not?)
When the cheers and the shouting and laughter
Proclaim that the battle grows hot;
As they come down the racecourse a-steering,
He'll rush to the front, I believe;
And you'll hear the great multitude cheering
For Pardon, the son of Reprieve
Adam Lindsay Gordon |
ALL is over! fleet career,
Dash of greyhound slipping thongs,
Flight of falcon, bound of deer,
Mad hoof-thunder in our rear,
Cold air rushing up our lungs,
Din of many tongues.
Once again, one struggle good,
One vain effort;—he must dwell
Near the shifted post, that stood
Where the splinters of the wood,
Lying in the torn tracks, tell
How he struck and fell.
Crest where cold drops beaded cling,
Small ear drooping, nostril full,
Glazing to a scarlet ring,
Flanks and haunches quivering,
Sinews stiffening, void and null,
Dumb eyes sorrowful.
Satin coat that seems to shine
Duller now, black braided tress
That a softer hand than mine
Far away was wont to twine,
That in meadows far from this
Softer lips might kiss.
All is over! this is death,
And I stand to watch thee die,
Brave old horse! with bated breath
Hardly drawn through tight-clenched teeth,
Lip indented deep, but eye
Only dull and dry.
Musing on the husk and chaff
Gathered where life’s tares are sown,
Thus I speak, and force a laugh,
That is half a sneer and half
An involuntary groan,
In a stifled tone—
‘Rest, old friend! thy day, though rife
With its toil, hath ended soon;
We have had our share of strife,
Tumblers in the masque of life,
In the pantomime of noon
Clown and pantaloon.
‘With a flash that ends thy pain,
Respite and oblivion blest
Come to greet thee.
I in vain
Fall: I rise to fall again:
Thou hast fallen to thy rest—
And thy fall is best
William Cowper |
Here lies, whom hound did ne’er pursue,
Nor swiftewd greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne’er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman’s hallo’,
Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nurs’d with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confin’d,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.
Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance ev’ry night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.
His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.
On twigs of hawthorn he regal’d,
On pippins’ russet peel;
And, when his juicy salads fail’d,
Slic’d carrot pleas’d him well.
A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he lov’d to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.
His frisking wa at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching show’rs,
Or when a storm drew near.
Eight years and five round rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And ev’ry night at play.
I kept him for his humour’s sake,
For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.
But now, beneath this walnut-shade
He finds his long, last home,
And waits inn snug concealment laid,
‘Till gentler puss shall come.
He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney’s box,
Must soon partake his grave.
George William Russell |
WHERE the Greyhound River windeth through a loneliness so deep,
Scarce a wild fowl shakes the quiet that the purple boglands keep,
Only God exults in silence over fields no man may reap.
Where the silver wave with sweetness fed the tiny lives of grass
I was bent above, my image mirrored in the fleeting glass,
And a voice from out the water through my being seemed to pass.
“Still above the waters brooding, spirit, in thy timeless quest;
Was the glory of thine image trembling over east and west
Not divine enough when mirrored in the morning water’s breast?”
With the sighing voice that murmured I was borne to ages dim
Ere the void was lit with beauty breathed upon by seraphim,
We were cradled there together folded in the peace in Him.
One to be the master spirit, one to be the slave awoke,
One to shape itself obedient to the fiery words we spoke,
Flame and flood and stars and mountains from the primal waters broke.
I was huddled in the heather when the vision failed its light,
Still and blue and vast above me towered aloft the solemn height,
Where the stars like dewdrops glistened on the mountain slope of night.