Poem introduction

An unfinished poem which I'll finish sooner or later but I'd like to read the first half of now. [This is indeed an earlier version of the text of this poem and differs considerably from the final published text and as such is of considerable historical interest. The transcript below is of the version used in this recording.]

America

America

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
America I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
When will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Christs?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When will you re-invent the heart?
When will you manufacture land?
When will your cowboys read Spengler?
When will your dams release the flood of eastern tears?
When will your technicians get drunk and abolish money?
When will you institute religions of perception in your legislature?
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
I don't want to work for a living.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
I don't want to die young
I want to die old and unhappy.
I don't mind dying so long as it's not sordid.
Now Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back and it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of playing a practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
America I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on
trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get - only two dollars and twenty-seven cents.
I don't want to work, maybe too good looking for the job.
I can't study anymore. I'll never teach for a living.
I sit in my house for days on end without going out.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
The American flag is absolutely meaningless to me still just as it was in the
thirties.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.
I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I pass the corner of North West Street and
Montgomery Street
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
Time Magazine is always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious.
Movie producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
Asia is rising against me.
I haven't got a chinaman's chance.
I'd better consider my natural resources.
My natural resources consist of two sticks of marijuana, millions of genitals,
an atom bomb, twothousandfivehundred mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots.
I have very few bordellos and that's all there is.
I have abolished my whorehouses in France and Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they're all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes at $2,500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
as trade in and the rest of your life to pay.
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven my mother took me to a Communist Cell meeting they
sold us bubkes, a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Broder plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don't really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians
The Russia's power mad. The Russia wants to eat us alive. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages
Her wants to take our factories.
Her wants to corrupt our college girls.
Her wants to put us all in slave labour camps
Her wants to emaciate us like skeletons
Her wants Malenko or Buganin or somebody to be our boss.
Her wants to dictify us.
Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Hah. Him need niggers.
Huh. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from reading the newspapers.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I am putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.


from Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Harper & Row, 1984), © Allen Ginsberg 1984, by permission of The Allen Ginsberg Trust. Recordings from Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems and Songs 1949-1993 (Rhino/Word-Beat), by permission of The Allen Ginsberg Trust.

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