Plucked from Line––5 Poems Stolen from Ginsberg: NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 12

For National Poetry Month, we are asked to write a poem a day for one month.  Today the prompt is to write a poem based on the index of a book. At first I was uninspired by this prompt.  I wrote several that seemed lackluster, then had chores and an appointment. In the middle of the afternoon, I decided it was time to get out of the house.  I headed to one of the fish restaurants on the lake and picked one from the road that looked peaceful and cool and atmospheric.  When I walked in, however, the TV was blaring some sports match.  When I took a table furthest from the TV, the waiter asked if I’d like to try one of the palapas.  We walked out of the large restaurant and I discovered my perfect environment to write.  I’d grabbed a book of Ginsberg poems–one of the few books I could find that actually had an index.  I settled in under the palapa roof, ignored the young men first working on their jet ski and then swashbuckling in circles in the water below the palapa, ordered a couple of quesadillas, anejo rum and Coke and  this is what transpired.

Plucked from Line––Five Poems Stolen from Ginsberg

These poems are comprised of selected lines from the first lines and titles index of Allen Ginsberg Collected Poems 1947-1980, Harper and Row, 1984

I met Allen Ginsberg in 1985 at a concert at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in L.A. when, after waiting in line for too long, I knocked on the door to ask if I could use the ladies room. He was the one who opened the door and graciously let me in. Later, he read his poems to the strum of some instrument—perhaps a sitar.

The book I took this from is signed: Allen Ginsberg, 3/12/85 HH (or perhaps AH) Los Angeles. There is a little doodle of a plant and some bees that looks like it is there to cover something else—perhaps a flub when he started to date it again. I don’t know if I bought the book that night or whether I had it and took it for him to sign. Or, perhaps I bought it in a bookstore later and it wasn’t signed for me at all. I prefer to remember that this reading/concert in the famous guitar shop was a promotion for his book, which had just been published, and that he signed this for me.


Plucked from Line, Five Poems


A bitter cold winter night
after dead souls,
after 53 years,
after thoughts fall,
after All, what else is there to say?
All afternoon cutting bramble blackberries––
a new moon looks down on our sick sweet planet.


An imaginary rose in a book
an open window on Chicago
as orange dusk-light falls on an old idea
at gauzy dusk, thin haze like cigarette smoke.
Aunt Rose––now––might I see you?
A very dove will have her love.


Because we met at dusk,
Buddha died and
cars slid minute down asphalt lanes in front of
city flats, coal yards and brown rivers.
Coughing in the morning,
covered with yellow leaves,
delicate eyes that blinked blue Rockies all ash
don’t grow old.
Do we understand each other?


Drive all blames into one.
Go back to Egypt and the Greeks.
Green air, children sat under trees with the old.
Green valentine blues––
have you seen the movie?


High on laughing gas,
how come he got canned at the ribbon factory?
How sick I am.
I am a Fake Saint.

19 thoughts on “Plucked from Line––5 Poems Stolen from Ginsberg: NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 12

    1. lifelessons Post author

      It’s been two prompts in a row that were like pulling teeth. In this one, it helped to look at some others. The example was so good that it sort of stopped me from wanting to do the prompt..No way to equal it.


  1. Marilyn Armstrong

    But for the angst, you pretty much nailed Ginsburg. I’ve always had mixed feelings about his poetry. I liked it better when I was a lot younger. But 50 years tends to alter ones perspective and ones taste. If it doesn’t, there’s something wrong, I think. We are, after all, supposed to change. I don’t do this month long things anymore. Too much pressure. Even though I post every day, I love knowing I don’t HAVE to post every day 🙂


  2. Manja Mexi Movie

    There is no words how much I love this post. Not just the poem, as splendid as it is, but also your story about how you met him and your images of where you wrote it… But that tablecloth!! And the view! I could play cards there till eternity! Yuhuuuuuuu!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I’d play with you….And Mexican Train. Those restaurants are full of visitors from Guadalajara on weekends but empty during the week, thus I had my own personal intimate dining room. I was there for hours and no one cared.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beat Company

    The “AH” was almost always part of Ginsberg’s later signatures, a Buddhist reference.

    Ginsberg explains how he came up with “Ah”: I got in the middle of the group who were going off to blockade a highway and started chanting “Ah” – after asking them to chant with me. Everybody sat down, then we discussed strategy calmly rather than as a hysterical mob.

    “Om” closes out – but “Ah” leaves the mouth open, breath goes out (see Ginsberg’s Mind Breaths Poems for more). “Ah” stands for recognition, appreciation, the intelligence of speech joining body and mind and for a measure of the breath.

    Another fan who got a copy of “Howl” signed – submitted that Allen, when signing it said – it stood for “*** hole…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Beat, thanks so much for that explanation. For some reason I just saw this today, weeks after you wrote it. How old are you? If likely to survive me, I”ll will the book to you! Or if I ever have to rid myself of possessions, I’ll send it to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: NaPoWriMo – Day 12 – “Hate, A List Of Things I Really” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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