A Ginsberg Tribute With Analysis *mild profanity

A few months back, I was obsessed with a collection of works from Allen Ginsberg.  We all know my appreciation of him as a poet.  I wanted to write a piece, and I felt something stirring but wasn’t sure where to go with it.  That big, beautiful Ginsberg book was sitting on my desk, almost taunting me.  Suddenly something clicked.  He didn’t write to show us how beautiful and fanciful a thing was.  Ginsberg would walk up to that pretty poem and start stripping off layers of  nonsense until all that remained was a broken, honest and bare thing.  That was why I admired him.  Having been recently experimenting with style and form, I felt comfortable writing freely, as I imagined he must have done.  I permitted no thoughts of judgement, no questions of how ‘pretty’ the words were, I just wrote what I saw, honestly, without forgiveness.  The result pleased me somewhat, and I would like to share it with you today.  I do feel the need to advise, this is not a ‘happy’ piece.  As per the usual format, the piece, followed by its breakdown and analysis.  I hope you enjoy, or at least endure this piece.

My Muse is a Drunken Whore

My muse is a drunken whore
leading me, bloodied
though streets of sickness and shame
among the wretched, the blind
past vagabonds and rejects
lower into the cesspool
beyond where the politicians hang
their coats; the pockets
still filled with fresh shit of the day
Past the churches, where lies
sell salvation by the cup
while starving boys die
at the shrunken breasts of their mother
feeding the greedy souls within
she’ll give until she’s gone
man takes back his stolen rib
from the rotted corpse of his lover
street lamp flickers,
illuminating the noble rat,
proudly scavenging
he takes for himself, he lives
despised by prouder creatures
they say they are his better
as they feast on themselves
muffled screams echo down alleyways
the strong prey on the weak
forcing themselves upon society
until at last, her tugging stops
she points and stumbles away
into the arms of another
and I lay, slack-jawed in horror
at the truth before my eyes
I asked to see the reason
for every suffered fate
wide eyes stare back in terror
from the mirror in my hand.

© Melissa Black, 2015 All rights reserved.

This piece is different for me, though I have since written a few more in a similar style.  I enjoyed the write, as I hope you enjoyed the read.  I will not be heavily critiquing this piece, as it is not intended as a bit of literary gold, but as a message.  And now, our analysis:

My muse is a drunken whore
leading me, bloodied
though streets of sickness and shame

Line 3 originally read ‘through streets of asphalt and shame’.  It was intended to give the image of  a literal person being dragged along, bloodied and beaten, tired and half unwilling through a literal city street.  It was suggested to me to alter the word asphalt, as it was a dead word.  I agreed and rephrased.  The point of the street being a place one would not desire to find himself is reiterated with sickness.

among the wretched, the blind
past vagabonds and rejects
lower into the cesspool

Here the image gets dirtier, it seems we are walking down this street.  Instead of walking by, as anyone would, he has allowed himself to be led to this place.  He continues walking.

beyond where the politicians hang
their coats; the pockets
still filled with fresh shit of the day

I’m not really one that likes to toot my own horn, so to speak, but I love the line break on hang/their coats.  It provides a double meaning that cannot be ignored.  The pockets being filled with fresh shit of the day is a relatively obvious metaphor as well.

Past the churches, where lies
sell salvation by the cup

Pretty self-explanatory, this one, but I liked the imagery.  Salvation by the cup, this brings a few images to mind for me.  Initially I see communion cups, impossibly small plastic cups, offering salvation, redemption, hope.  Then, I see a sweet little girl in a flowered dress selling lemonade on a summer day, feeding into a thing she won’t understand for years to come.  Of course, it is all a lie.

while starving boys die
at the shrunken breasts of their mother
feeding the greedy souls within
she’ll give until she’s gone
man takes back his stolen rib
from the rotted corpse of his lover

I loved this section.  I admit it.  ‘While starving boys die/at the shrunken breasts of their mother’  That’s a bitter image.  The mother, giving all she has, trying to give more while the sons starve and die.  This passage can be taken literally, though it is intended as further metaphor.  Man takes back his rib, claiming it as stolen, from his now dead lover who died presumably after having the very life drained from her by others, him included.  This of course references the biblical Adam and Eve creation story of the rib being taken from Adam’s side, by God, to create woman.  The image here implies that he resents her existence, yet feeds upon it until she is desiccated.  This could be taken as a sexist implication, and yes, there is an underlying message there regarding societal views on women.  However, it is primarily intended as a reflection of self, as the speaker is male.

street lamp flickers,
illuminating the noble rat,
proudly scavenging
he takes for himself, he lives
despised by prouder creatures
they say they are his better
as they feast on themselves

This image is fairly simple.  A rat, thinking himself noble, acting proudly.  This observation of self is important.  The rat observes himself as self, and as self as perceived by others, yet he observes them as well.  This is a further analysis of self, observed in the personification of a rat.

muffled screams echo down alleyways
the strong prey on the weak
forcing themselves upon society

More unpleasant imagery, but again intended as a view of a larger thing.  To force oneself upon society, that should give a person pause for thought.  What do we, as individuals force upon society by our existence?

until at last, her tugging stops
she points and stumbles away
into the arms of another

A tie in to the previous bit in the alleyway, yet also bringing us back to the drunken muse, dragging our speaker along.  She points, and staggers into the arms of another.  So she leaves him, and continues the cycle, again, this is speaking of both women, as they are one and the same.  This also implies her willingness toward such treatment.  Allow me to state, as the author, no, I am not saying women ‘ask for’ such things.  This is a reflection of self engineering ones own suffering.  Don’t make it what it isn’t.

and I lay, slack-jawed in horror
at the truth before my eyes
I asked to see the reason
for every suffered fate
wide eyes stare back in terror
from the mirror in my hand.

Here, finally the last piece of the puzzle slides into place.  It’s all his doing.  Every hate he seeks to lay at the feet of another belongs to him.  These demons exist because we create them.  We allow ourselves, our ego to become monsters we don’t recognize and can no longer control.  It controls us, turns us into that monster we see.  All the while we stare at this horrid beast, thinking ourselves so righteous, so much better than this wretched thing, only to discover we are looking into a mirror.

I know it isn’t the happiest thing I’ve ever written, but I felt it was needed.  I sincerely hope you enjoyed.

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2 thoughts on “A Ginsberg Tribute With Analysis *mild profanity

  1. I like your writing, you definitely have a way with words! And talking about Ginsberg, what do you think of himas musician?https://youtu.be/z1oWrOxY5y0 ( i just uploaded this little vid, i think its a cool idea put in music some poems, and Blakes poetry worth the try! 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! In regard to any poet as a musician, I admire the ability. Frankly I wouldn’t know where to begin on such a thing, but I can certainly respect those that can turn their words to song. I mean, look at Cohen’s success. Also, great video, Blake, a classic, of course. =)

      Like

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