SECTION ELEVEN
  POETRY PAGE THREE

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COLUMN FORTY-NINE, SEPTEMBER 1, 1999
(Copyright 1999 Al Aronowitz)


(Photo by Myles Aronowitz)

ALLEN  

was glad a friend told me
Allen was gone
the rage Jerry felt
when out of the TV came
-a '60s poet who wrote <I>Howl</I>
about his homosexuality and his
communist upbringing
read <I>Howl</I>
all those years ago
and since
never picked up any of that
maybe because I wasn't raised
a pseudo fascist  

it looks like spring
may finally be here
out the window
the tree has little balls of
yellow-green
today we put our clocks
forward an hour
daylight savin'time  

when one dies it takes a
piece of you
it brought me back to the snow
storm of '47
when Penny and I were to spend
Xmas week in the apartment of
a boyfriend
who lived next door to Allen
it was someplace all the way
uptown
maybe east harlem
Penny and I had never spent
any time away from home
telling our parents
we were staying with each other  

I can still see Allen's apartment
where the books lived
Penny and I were like two vultures
going from book to book
finding a poem
reading it to out loud
if there had been food we'd
had stayed till the New Year
While poetry can fill the soul
it couldn't stop the rumbling
in our stomachs
as hard as we tried
we couldn't figure out
how to eat seaweed
going in the street
the snow was taller than penny
who was 5 foot tall
and the quiet of the city
here it is all these years
later
they're all gone
penny, my mother, father and now
Allen
I'm left to remember
wondering what the hell
it's all about
Me being Irish
Penny and Allen being jewish
yet never knew the difference
we loved the same things
and above all - poetry  

can still see that apartment
and can't remember the
boyfriend's name
always meaning to ask
Allen what it was  

If anyone were to ask
"who inspired your interior decorating?"
I'd have to say,
"It was Allen Ginsberg."
because of those few days
so long ago
knew what my apartment would
look like
they can have their homes
and picket fences
knew Allen could put his
hand on any book he
wanted
looking at the tree
I can still feel the little girl
and blame her for not being nicer
yet give me a second
I can tell you what drove
me to rage
that became part of my
very being
 

the night at St. Marks
when an actress was reading
one of Jack's letters saying
'all women are stupid'
of course, quoting Budd
Shulberg
the terror on Allen's face
expecting me to say something
smiled and remembered another
day
a friend of mine was visiting him
I think it was Peter
whoever he was he was pretty
this time it was the lower
east side  

they were eating white bread
and what looked like lard but turned out to
be margarine without the coloring
that day I knew
as an interior decorator
he was fine
but my eating habits would
be the gourmet
that I learned from 'the boys'
at the San Remo
I'll miss you Allen
for you were a hoot
with your Mont Blanc pen
and when you talked about
the '50s
forgetting how hard it had
been for us fair flowers
yet like all the kids who
still read you
No matter what the so-called
establishment wants to say
you're ours.  

April 1997  ##

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