Howl and Other Poems1955I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock andsat down under the huge shade of a SouthernPacific locomotive to look at the sunset over thebox house hills and cry.Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty ironpole, companion, we thought the same thoughtsof the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, sur-rounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees ofmachinery.The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sunsank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in thatstream, no hermit in those mounts, just our-selves rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bumson the riverbank, tired and wily.Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead grayshadow against the sky, big as a man, sittingdry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust----I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,memories of Blake--my visions--Harlemand Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking JoesGreasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, blacktreadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, thepoem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steelknives, nothing stainless, only the dank muckand the razor-sharp artifacts passing into thepast--and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smogand smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken likea battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sun-rays obliterated on its hairy head like a driedwire spiderweb,leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gesturesfrom the sawdust root, broke pieces of plasterfallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower Omy soul, I loved you then!The grime was no man's grime but death and humanlocomotives,all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroadskin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of blackmis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuber-ance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial--modern--all that civilization spotting yourcrazy golden crown--and those blear thoughts of death and dusty lovelesseyes and ends and withered roots below, in thehome-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollarbills, skin of machinery, the guts and innardsof the weeping coughing car, the empty lonelytincans with their rusty tongues alack, whatmore could I name, the smoked ashes of somecock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and themilky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs& sphincters of dynamos--all theseentangled in your mummied roots--and you therestanding before me in the sunset, all your gloryin your form!A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellentlovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eyeto the new hip moon, woke up alive and excitedgrasping in the sunset shadow sunrise goldenmonthly breeze!How many flies buzzed round you innocent of yourgrime, while you cursed the heavens of the rail-road and your flower soul?Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were aflower? when did you look at your skin anddecide you were an impotent dirty old locomo-tive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter andshade of a once powerful mad American locomo-tive?You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were asunflower!And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget menot!So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuckit at my side like a scepter,and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soultoo, and anyone who'll listen,--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dreadbleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're allbeautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're bles-sed by our own seed & golden hairy naked ac-complishment-bodies growing into mad blackformal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by oureyes under the shadow of the mad locomotiveriverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit-down vision.
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