And now...an exclusive, never-before-published haiku by a famous dead American poet. Really. Seriously:
Just wandered in from
the void for a poetry
reading, the next morning
I was hung over.
You’re probably thinking that doesn’t look much like a haiku—in fact it looks even less like one on the original page, since the line brakes above are really just where the writing hit the edge of the paper, and he certainly wasn’t even trying for 5-7-5 (though it has been argued that, given the essential differences between Japanese and English, that schema isn’t important for English-language haiku, anyway) (then, those presenting that argument might simply be lazy) (but...far be it from me to get into debates about poetic form).
It was back in the summer of 1990, I believe, though it could possibly have been '91, while I was embarrassing my parents living the life of a slacker out in Boulder, a year out of college, no prospects for or particular interest in a promising career of any kind, and, when not wandering in the mountains or otherwise sacrificing brain cells to unknown gods, attending a free Zen meditation class at the Naropa Institute, which was also attended, at least once or twice, by Ginsberg, who one Saturday (I think), as part of a benefit for something or other, along with some other poets, did this thing—basically, you stood in line, paid a few or maybe five bucks, and a famous poet would ask you a few questions, then write an instant haiku on the spot....I told Ginsberg I was just wandering, kind of a bum—apparently thinking maybe he’d be impressed and tell me I reminded him of Kerouac or something (he wasn’t, and didn’t)—I also told him I’d gone to a poetry reading the night before, and now, in the morning, was hung over...and so ended up with a piece of rag paper, with this poem, a little drawing of a flower and what looks like a snake, and Ginsberg’s signature on it. I’ve still got it, though in the midst of a long summer living in my van, something apparently got spilled on it, staining and smudging it badly, particularly the signature, though you can still read it...kinda.....
That summer or maybe the next one, I also attended a seminar Ginsberg did—once a week for I think three weeks we read Blake and Whitman, and Allen related the poems to his sex life, drug experiences, and conversations with Bob Dylan...which could be interesting, sometimes, like when he talked about this Blake poem:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise
and applied it to how, at one time in his life, he’d kept taking acid, each time hoping this one will last until, finally, he learned to kiss it as it flies...and he drew attention to this part of a line from an obscure version of the well known I asked a thief:
‘twixt earnest & joke
arguing that it was central to his own poetry as well as that of Shakespeare and lots of other people...now that I think of it, it’s probably central to Yoga for Cynics, too...and, some years later, in grad school I used it as the basis for what became my first published scholarly article, called The Trickster Metaphysics of Thylias Moss. Thylias Moss writes stuff like this:
Somebody told me I didn’t exist even though he was looking dead at me. He said that since I defied logic, I wasn’t real for reality is one of logic’s definitions. He said I was a contradiction in terms, that one side of me cancelled out the other leaving nothing. His shaking knees were like polite maracas in the small clicking they made. His mustache seemed a misplaced smile. My compliments did not deter him from thinking he conversed with an empty space since there was no such thing as an angel who doesn’t believe in God....
but, that was another time....