We are accustomed to think of ourselves as an emancipated people; we say that we are democratic, liberty-loving, free of prejudices and hatred. This is the melting-pot, the seat of a great human experiment. Beautiful words, full of noble, idealistic sentiment.
Actually we are a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues, newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like. To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world beside the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this insane activity represents progress and enlightenment?
The land of opportunity has become the land of senseless sweat and struggle. The goal of all our striving has long been forgotten. We no longer wish to succor the oppressed and homeless; there is no room in this great, empty land for those who, like our forefathers before us, now seek a place of refuge. Millions of men and women are, or were until very recently, on relief, condemned like guinea pigs to a life of forced idleness.
The world meanwhile looks to us with a desperation such as it has never known before. Where is the democratic spirit? Where are the leaders? As Democrats, Republicans, Fascists, Communists, we are all on one level. That is one of the reasons why we wage war so beautifully. We defend with our lives the petty principles that divide us. The common principle, which is the establishment of the empire of man on earth, we never lift a finger to defend. We are frightened of any urge which would lift us out of the muck.
We fight only for the status quo, our particular status quo. We battle with heads down and eyes closed. Actually, there never is a status quo, except in the minds of political imbeciles. All is flux. Those who are on the defensive are fighting phantoms. … What is the greatest treason? To question what it is one may be fighting for.
yeah sure, I’ll be in unless I’m out
don’t knock if the lights are out
or you hear voices or then
I might be reading Proust
if someone slips Proust under my door
or one of his bones for my stew,
and I can’t loan money or
or what’s left of my car
though you can have yesterday’s newspaper
an old shirt or a bologna sandwich
or sleep on the couch
if you don’t scream at night
and you can talk about yourself
that’s only normal;
hard times are upon us all
only I am not trying to raise a family
to send through Harvard
or buy hunting land,
I am not aiming high
I am only trying to keep myself alive
just a little longer,
so if you sometimes knock
and I don’t answer
and there isn’t a woman in here
maybe I have broken my jaw
and am looking for wire
or I am chasing the butterflies in
I mean if I don’t answer
I don’t answer, and the reason is
that I am not yet ready to kill you
or love you, or even accept you,
it means I don’t want to talk
I am busy, I am mad, I am glad
or maybe I’m stringing up a rope;
so even if the lights are on
and you hear sound
like breathing or praying or singing
a radio or the roll of dice
or typing –
go away, it is not the day
the night, the hour;
it is not the ignorance of impoliteness,
I wish to hurt nothing, not even a bug
but sometimes I gather evidence of a kind
that takes some sorting,
and your blue eyes, be they blue
and your hair, if you have some
or your mind – they cannot enter
until the rope is cut or knotted
or until I have shaven into
new mirrors, until the world is
stopped or opened
We are all alone,
born alone, die alone,
and—in spite of
True Romance magazines —
we shall all someday
look back on our lives
and see that, in spite
of our company, we were
alone the whole way.
I do not say lonely —
at least, not all the
and finally, alone. This
is what makes your
self-respect so important,
and I don’t see how you can
respect yourself if you must
look in the hearts and minds
of others for your happiness.
There’s a truth limits man
A truth prevents his going any farther
The world is changing
The world knows it’s changing
Heavy is the sorrow of the day
The old have the look of doom
The young mistake their fate in that look
That is truth
But it isn’t all truth
Life has meaning
And I do not know the meaning
Even when I felt it were meaningless
I hoped and prayed and sought a meaning
It wasn’t all frolic poesy
There were dues to pay
Summoning Death and God
I’d a wild dare to tackle Them
Death proved meaningless without Life
Yes the world is changing
But Death remains the same
It takes man away from Life
The only meaning he knows
And usually it is a sad business
I’d an innocence I’d a seriousness
I’d a humor save me from amateur philosophy
I am able to contradict my beliefs
I am able able
Because I want to know the meaning of everything
Yet sit I like a brokenness
Moaning: Oh what responsibility
I put on thee Gregory
Death and God
Hard hard it’s hard
I learned life were no dream
I learned truth deceived
Man is not God
Life is a century
Death an instant
…colleges being nothing but
grooming schools for the middle-class
non-identity which usually finds
its perfect expression on the outskirts
of the campus in rows of well-to-do
houses with lawns and television sets
in each living room with everybody
looking at the same thing and thinking
the same thing at the same time while
the Japhies of the world go prowling
in the wilderness to hear the voice
crying in the wilderness, to find
the ecstasy of the stars, to find
the dark mysterious secret of the
origin of faceless wonderless
Admit it. You aren’t like them.
You’re not even close. You may
occasionally dress yourself
up as one of them, watch the
same mindless television shows
as they do, maybe even eat the
same fast food sometimes.
But it seems that the more you try
to fit in, the more you feel like
an outsider, watching the
as they go about
For every time you say club passwords
like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s
awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside
to say forbidden things like “Tell me
something that makes you cry” or
“What do you think deja vu is for?”.
Face it, you even want to talk to that girl
in the elevator. But what if that girl in
the elevator (and the balding man who walks
past your cubicle at work) are thinking
the same thing? Who knows what you might
learn from taking a chance on conversation
with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece
of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life
by mere coincidence.
Trust your instincts.
Do the unexpected.
Find the others…
too often the people complain that they have
done nothing with their
and then they wait for somebody to tell them
that this isn’t so.
look, you’ve done this and that and you’ve
done that and that’s
you really think so?
but they had it right.
they’ve done nothing.
shown no courage.
they did what they were taught to
they did what they were told to
they had no resistance, no thoughts
of their own.
they were pushed and shoved
and went obediently.
they had no heart.
they were cowardly.
they stank in life.
they stank up life.
and now they want to be told that
they didn’t fail.
you’ve met them.
the dead-before-death gang.
lie to them?
tell them what they want to hear?
tell them anything they want to hear?
people with courage made them what they
and if they ask me, I’ll tell them what they
don’t want to hear.
it’s better you
keep them away from me, or
they’ll tell you I’m a cruel man.
it’s better that they confer
I want to be free of
He said it doesn’t look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I’m real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong
Don’t go far off, not even for a day
Don’t go far off, not even for a day,
Because I don’t know how to say it – a day is long
And I will be waiting for you, as in
An empty station when the trains are
Parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because then
The little drops of anguish will all run together,
The smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
Into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve
On the beach, may your eyelids never flutter
Into the empty distance. Don’t LEAVE me for
A second, my dearest, because in that moment you’ll
Have gone so far I’ll wander mazily
Over all the earth, asking, will you
Come back? Will you leave me here, dying?