American Ginsburg Gothic

May her memory be a blessing.

ALLEN GINSBERG: And tho’ I am the King of May
RUTH BADER GINSBURG: Dissent speaks to a future age. It is not simply
GINSBERG: The Marxists have beat me upon the street / kept me up all night in police station
GINSBURG: to say “My colleagues are wrong, and I would do it this way,”
GINSBERG: Followed me through springtime Prague, / detained me in secret and deported me from our kingdom by airplane.
GINSBURG: But the great dissents do become court opinions.
GINSBERG: Thus I have written this poem on a jet seat in mid heaven.



Poets Answer an Age-Old Question: Leonard Cohen on why the chicken crossed the road

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

I saw you on the other side
And crossed the road—it wasn’t wide,
But I’d’ve crossed a 6-lane highway to ya.
Cock-a-doodle-doodle-doooo, yeah.


Happy birthday to Leonard Cohen, who would have been 86 today.

The Founding Fathers call the Poetry Crisis Line

PATIENCE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
FOUNDING FATHERS (callers, on conference line): We the People
PATIENCE: Which people?
FOUNDERS: Of the United States
PATIENCE: Where, specifically?
FOUNDERS: In order
PATIENCE: What are you standing in line for?
FOUNDERS: To form a more perfect union
PATIENCE: Uh…relationship counseling?

On this date in 1787, the US Constitution was signed.


Also on this date, in 1859, Joshua Norton declared himself Emperor of the United States of America.

find out more about Emperor Norton here.

For additional reading, check out Allegiance to a Dead Man, by Sara M. Harvey.

Franz Werfel calls the Poetry Crisis Line

Happy 130th birthday to Franz Werfel–whom I might not have heard of except for a Tom Lehrer song.

Read “An Old Woman Passes” by Franz Werfel here (note: poem is 3 pages; link is to page 1).

Also note that the Poetry Crisis Line still endorses use of masks in crowded places; however, our counselors have begun working from home, in the interest of eventually making designs suitable for T-shirts in the Poetry Crisis Line shop.

KIM (COUNSELOR): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
WERFEL (CALLER): An old woman passes
KIM: I’m sorry for your loss. Were you close?
WERFEL: Like a rotund tower.
KIM: Uh…can you give me a frame of reference?
WERFEL: Down the street.
KIM: So…like something you see every day?
WERFEL: Stormed
KIM: Uh…do you get daily sieges in your neighborhood?
WERFEL: By a leafy shower.
KIM: Like, if Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane?
WERFEL: Soon she disappears.
KIM: And you should, too. Get outta there!



Charles Simic calls the Poetry Crisis Line

Happy Labor Day from the Poetry Crisis Line!

From “Eyes Fastened with Pins” by Charles Simic

JERRY (COUNSELOR): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
SIMIC (CALLER): How much death works,
JERRY: I heard he’s not proud.
SIMIC: No one knows
JERRY: That’s just what I’ve heard.
SIMIC: what a long day he puts in.
JERRY: He’s been putting in overtime lately.
SIMIC: The little wife always alone ironing death’s laundry.
JERRY: Really?
SIMIC: The beautiful daughters setting death’s supper table.
JERRY: Strange. I heard he was a great equalizer.


Poets answer an age-old question: Why did the chicken cross the road? Maya Angelou

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Maya Angelou:
You can put me in the barnyard
With your pigs and cows and ducks,
You can tell me I should stay there–
“I’ve got places to go,” I clucks.

Oddly, I can’t seem to find the musical rendition of “Still I Rise” that I’ve been hearing on the radio lately, but a search turned up this version.


Jorge Luis Borges calls the Poetry Crisis Line

From “Fragments of an Apocryphal Evangelist

Happy 121st birthday to Jorge Luis Borges!


COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: The door does the choosing,

COUNSELOR: What are you afraid it might choose?

CALLER: not the man.

COUNSELOR: I see. And what is it about the man that appeals to you?

CALLER:  Blessed are the poor without bitterness and the rich without pride.

COUNSELOR: They sound like quite the power couple.

CALLER:  Happy are the beloved

COUNSELOR: So you think you’ll still connect with him anyway? Despite the door?

CALLER: happy are the lovers,

COUNSELOR: I like your attitude.

CALLER: and happy those who can do without love.

COUNSELOR: I see you’ve planned for all contingencies.

CALLER: Happy are the happy.

COUNSELOR: I can’t argue with that.