Publishers’ Note Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, written in San Francisco in 1955-56, was the real news behind the newspaper headlines of the 1950s in Cold Warring America. The cover of this issue of Psychic Swamp pays homage to San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore Pocket Poets chap book edition of Howl. A critic called it “verbal vomit,” maybe the appropriate thing for Ginsberg to have done considering the state of things in that era. Erin Lierl’s prose poem is a homage to New Orleans, a sister city to San Francisco. She writes:
Allen Ginsberg “Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky! Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs! They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us! Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river! Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!” --Howl, San Francisco 1955-56
I looked at the river and saw a real river. Walking along the bayou: white birds, fishermen, shells, the glint keeping up with me as I walked along the levee, grass bifurcating, sprawling up out of the cement. Louisiana. I said it out loud: Louisiana. I was proud-not truly proud, but pretending to be proud, watching myself wear the color of proud—or imagining a teacher-lady about my age, though taller than me, American and proud of being of a place that no one will ever understand. Perhaps it is the most mysterious place of all. More alive than it needs to be, its aliveness is like a drunkenness, a speedy alive-ness, an intoxication with life.
Psychic Swamp 2 The Surregional Review John P. Clark + Stephen Duplantier + Max Cafard Individual copyrights may apply. Center for Gulf South History and Culture, Inc. D. Eric Bookhardt, Director www.psychicswamp.info Published in New Orleans, November 2013