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Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman

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2020 AMERICAN BOOK AWARD WINNER

"The Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman is the most comprehensive selection of his verse to date, a volume that contains a lot of previously uncollected work. … this book makes a case for him as a perceptive and eccentric American original, a man who seems to have fallen out of the sky like a meteor."—The New York Times

"The body of work is small but voluminous in intensity, spirit and soul, with a lineage that runs from Charles Baudelaire to Charles Mingus. Kaufman—with his commitment to the art, his surreal eye on the urban experience and beyond it, and his jazz timing—brings San Francisco to life."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Twentieth-century American poetry cannot be fully comprehended without Bob Kaufman. City Lights and the editors do a grand service to literature by publishing Kaufman's poetry in one collection. … This is a necessary gift for poets and poetry readers."—Booklist

“He was an original voice. No one else talked like him. No one else wrote poetry like him.”—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Bob Kaufman (1925–1986) was one of the most important—and most original—poets of the twentieth century. He is among the inaugurators of what today is characterized as the Afro-Surreal, uniting the surrealist practice of automatic writing with the jazz concept of spontaneous composition. He seldom wrote his poems down and often discarded those he did, leaving them to be rescued by others. He was also a legendary figure of the Beat Generation, known as much for hopping on tables to declaim his poetry as for maintaining a monastic silence for months or even years at a time.

Kaufman produced just three broadsides and three books in his lifetime. In 1967, Golden Sardine was published by City Lights in its famed Pocket Poets Series, and became an instant cult classic. Collected Poems is a landmark poetic achievement, bringing together all of Kaufman’s known surviving poems, including an extensive section of previously uncollected work, in a long overdue return to City Lights Books.

Praise for Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman:

"Bob Kaufman volcanically en-veined the Beats as a mirage enveloped Surrealist; not as a formal poet, but one, like Rimbaud, who embodied butane. Following the scent of his butane on one anonymous North Beach afternoon led Philip Lamantia to audibly utter to me that Bob Kaufman as per incandescent singularity is 'our poet.'"—Will Alexander, author of Compression & Purity

"Bob Kaufman is one of our most vulnerable, mysterious, and beautiful poets, a nomadic maudit, surrealist saint of the streets, votary of silence, the consummate Outrider with trickster imagination and visionary power.”—Anne Waldman, author of Trickster Feminism

"Uplifting the voice of this under-sung literary master to future’s light is the mission of the Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman. This poet’s poet on the cliff edge of no ledge is still continuing to foster new surrealizations. Read this bebopian wordsmith, his pen turned saxophone and ink notes that are black tears."—Kamau Daáood, author of The Language of Saxophones

"To call these poems 'surreal' seems, now, to muffle Kaufman’s prophetic genius. He saw us, our images in pools of blood, milk, and saxophone spittle. Maybe it was ever our shivering made the ripples that distorted the reflections."—Douglas Kearney, author of Buck Studies

"Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman should finally liberate the kaleidoscopic surrealism of this San Franciscan, and in many respects, secular Franciscan, poet from the shadows of Allen Ginsberg and the other Beats. … Collected Poems is a memoriam of unmitigated joy and abysmal despair."—Tyrone Williams, author of As iZ

ISBN-13: 9780872867697

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: City Lights Books

Publication Date: 11-12-2019

Pages: 276

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Bob Kaufman was born in New Orleans in 1925 and spent the 1940s in the Merchant Marine. After a brief period as a labor organizer, he lived a peripatetic existence before settling in San Francisco in the late ’50s, where he published three broadsides with City Lights Books. In 1959, he co-founded Beatitude magazine and maintained a decade-long vow of silence after the assassination of President Kennedy. He published two books during the 1960s, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness and Golden Sardine, and a third book, The Ancient Rain, in 1981. He died in San Francisco in 1986. He is considered by many to be the finest jazz poet of his generation.Neeli Cherkovski was born in Los Angeles. He is the author of many books of poetry, including Animal (1996), From the Canyon Outward (2009), The Crow and I (2015), and Elegy for My Beat Generation (2018). He is the coeditor of Anthology of L.A. Poets (with Charles Bukowski) and Cross-Strokes: Poetry Between Los Angeles and San Francisco (with Bill Mohr). He has also published editions of his poems in Austria, Mexico, Italy, Germany, and Turkey.Raymond Foye is a writer, curator, and editor based in New York City. He is the executor for the poets John Wieners, James Schuyler, and Rene Ricard, and has edited numerous editions of their works. Currently he is preparing an edition of the final unpublished poems of Gregory Corso from the years 1980-2000. He is also the publisher of Raymond Foye Books.Tate Swindell is the founder of Unrequited Records, which specializes in poetry records released in vinyl format. His collections of writing include Palpitations, Tearing Down Walls of Cellars and Basements, and The Creation of Deadlines. Tate, and his brother Todd, worked extensively on the Harold Norse archives, which were donated to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. He is currently working on an album of rare Gregory Corso readings from the late 1970s and early 80s that includes previously unpublished poems.devorah major served as San Francisco's Third Poet Laureate (2002-2006). She has published two novels, four poetry books, and four poetry chapbooks, along with two young adult titles, and a host of short stories, essays, and individual poems published in anthologies and periodicals. Among her awards is a First Novelist award from the Black Caucus of the ALA and a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award. She is a Senior Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts.

Read an Excerpt

Eternal Poet - Foreword by devorah major

Bob Kaufman is a poet; Bob Kaufman is a man steeped in a mythology sprinkled with a few facts. For many he exists as the man who wrote poems on newspaper margins, the man flowing with piled jazz infused visions as wife or friend transcribed his surrealistic rants, the man yelling poems at strangers parking their cars on North Beach street corners, the man repeatedly and repeatedly arrested on San Francisco streets, at times after being harshly beaten by the arresting officers, the man who took a vow of silence unbroken for eleven years. For me he began as the father of a long-forgotten toddler playmate. He was my parents’ friend who came to house parties and wreaked havoc. He was the author of a yellow-covered little book of poetry that held my father’s favorite poem, which he often quoted:

The first man was an idealist, but he died,
he couldn’t survive the first truth,
discovering that the whole
world, all of it, was all his . . . (“Suicide”)

He was the one who spoke, at least to my father and me, during his mythological monkish self-imposed silence. He was for me always most real on the page; he was for me, and remains for me, alive and vibrant as a poet whose truths continue to shine with a brilliance that even drugs, alcohol, and electro-shock torture could not snuff out.

My memories of Bob Kaufman are few and fleeting and always in concert with my father. My father and I were walking towards Broadway. I think we had just left City Lights Bookstore. We were in North Beach to get a gift, birthday I expect, for my mother. As we hit Broadway there was Bob Kaufman leaning against a light pole. My father called out; Bob saw my father and remembered him and the two of them hugged and laughed. It had been years since they had last talked, but the ropes that bound them as Afro-diasporic brothers of fate, as comrades of North Beach 1950s streets, and as part of the small cloister of Black male artists and writers who haunted those alleys and bars, were as strong as ever. Bob asked after my mother, my brother, and then me. My father told him repeatedly that I was standing right there, that I was grown now. Bob chuckled when he finally understood and invited us to his small hotel room.

We walked a couple of blocks to the room, which was dark and sparse, and sharing the bed while I perched on the one chair, the two of them talked in that shorthand way that only friends understand, a sigh here, a quiet laugh there, and an unspent tear on the other side. I was witness only. My father told Bob that I wrote poetry and was pretty good. Bob, as I remember, took no notice. We left and it seemed there was a certain sadness in my father’s goodbye.

A couple of years later I was given a featured reading spot at the long-demolished Coffee Gallery where Bob had often held court. My father, a pipe smoker at that point, had gone outside to fill a bowl and inhale a few lungfuls of aromatic smoke. As he stood in the doorway, Bob walked up. My father asked Bob to come in and hear me read. Bob sipped on the beer my father had bought him and sat through a few of the opening readers until I was called to the stage. I signed the back wall with much humility upon seeing up close all the names of former featured readers etched large and small, printed and cursive, on this monument to North Beach poetics. Then I read my poetry, sincere but raw, infused with the passion of the ’70s, with a Black Arts spin and a young romantic love compulsion. Bob drank beer with my parents and waited until I sat back down. He gave me his approval, “Good stuff” or some such phrase, and left the place. I was absolutely buzzing with excitement. Just his presence, his quiet support, was my ticket to continue to ride the wild and sometimes tortuous seas of poetry.

That was the last time I remember seeing Bob in the flesh. But his words, his poems, had been my companion through my lonely and mis-fitting teens. I had carried Golden Sardine and Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness from San Francisco to Hong Kong, and then on to Kathmandu, Nepal, Kabul, Afghanistan, and Istanbul, Turkey, only to arrive in Paris, where I spent a couple of weeks working and sleeping at George Whitman’s bookstore, Shakespeare and Co. One day, after finishing my couple of hours of chores to pay for my bed for the night, I came downstairs to see a young Parisian reading Bob’s Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness. I was amazed. “You like Kaufman?” I asked in my limited French, rich with vocabulary and impoverished with grammar. “Yes,” he answered in English, “he is the best.” He said something about Rimbaud and Baudelaire, and I said, yes, I knew some of their poetry, too. I asked him if he had read Golden Sardine. “He has another book?” the young man asked in surprise. “Yes, I have a copy upstairs.” He appealed to me to let him read it. “I can’t lose it,” I told him. “It has carried me over half the world.” He promised me that he would not move from that spot. I brought him the book and he sat for the next couple of hours reading it and then returned it to me with effusive thanks. I was intrigued. In Paris Bob Kaufman was literary hero while in America he was mostly unknown, and when remembered, it was mostly mythology and lies. The Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman presents the real Bob Kaufman, a man who lived and spoke through his poems.

In April of 1925, as the seventh of thirteen children, Bob Kaufman was born of mixed ancestry, in New Orleans, Louisiana with an Afro-Caribbean mother from Louisiana and a Jewish father of German and French ancestry, at a time when interracial marriage was illegal. Maybe it was that heritage—hewn in a city that was so racially conflicted and culturally rich, that heritage nurtured in a city where his Martinican grandmother’s Vodun, the Catholicism of his mother, and the Judaism of his father—which taught him that the world was a complex place where love and spirit, and faith and reality, held central and often conflicting roles. Bob Kaufman was steeped in diverse traditions before he boarded a Merchant Marine ship as a teenager and spent six years sailing the world, and, in stories he told, survived four shipwrecks while circumnavigating the globe several times, tasting exotic foods, reading a breadth of literature, seeing wide swaths of art, and learning a global history from the underside up.

What is most exciting about this volume of poetry is that it shows that Kaufman cannot be fit into one box. He certainly is a Beat poet, although you will rarely find his name or his seminal role listed in articles and books about the Beats. But then he was not “beat” in the meaning attributed to Jack Kerouac, beat down and beat back, rather he was of the beat and through the beat like the jazz poetry that he performed. He was a Beat poet who in his poem Oct. 5th, 1963—which takes the form of a letter to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle—noted that:

"It is not the beat played by who is beating the drum. His is a noisy loud one, the silent beat is beaten by who is not beating on the drum, his silent beat drowns out all the noise, it comes before and after every beat, you hear it in beatween, its sound is Bob Kaufman, Poet"

He can rightfully be considered a surrealist poet, as the French like to say, the “Black Rimbaud.” After all he did “acknowledge the demands of Surrealist realization” (“Sullen Bakeries of Total Recall”) and then again what other kind of poet would write, as in “Bagel Shop Jazz”:

Shadow people, projected on coffee-shop walls.
Memory formed echoes of a generation past
Beating into now.

Nightfall creatures, eating each other
Over a noisy cup of coffee.

Mulberry-eyed girls in black stockings,
Smelling vaguely of mint jelly and last night’s bongo drummer…

But I think what Kaufman wrote, what Kaufman orated, what he be-bopped out of his brain and soul, was not more than real to him, but simply real. It was what he saw and how he saw it. When he asks “Would You Wear My Eyes,” he doesn’t just call the question, he dares the reader. Are you willing to see a “face . . . covered with maps of dead nations” (“Would You Wear My Eyes?”)? Do you want to discover, like he did in his “Jail Poems,” that:

All night the stink of rotting people,
Fumes rising from pyres of live men,
Fill my nose with gassy disgust,
Drown my exposed eyes in tears.

He offers both critiques and applause to artists in a broad range of fields—Dylan Thomas, Baudelaire, Billie Holliday, Bartok, Picasso, Mondrian, Hart Crane, Lorca, Camus, and others—letting us see and know the many wells from which he drank.

For Kaufman there are no lines between poetry that spews from the evening news—the bottomless valley of forgetting from whence he lifts Caryl Chessman, and sings dirges to the children of Hiroshima, and questions Camus in hard, biting questions about the writer’s colonial position on Algeria—or poetry that echoes with choruses of music—mostly, but not only, jazz and blues—or poetry that grows from a tree of spirituality rooted in Buddhism but aware of the breadth of Christianity and the depths of traditional African religion.

I remember my father telling me a story about Bob calling him and telling him that he needed to come to North Beach the next day and help build a Buddhist Temple. My father tried to tell Bob he had other obligations, but Bob pressed him, and in the end my father found himself with a team Bob had organized helping to build a Buddhist Temple in San Francisco. Maybe that effort and his years of silence is why Buddhism is the cloak most people wrap Kaufman in. No doubt he had a Buddhist practice, but there has always been a unity reflecting a breadth of crossroads to and through faith in his poetical vision. And when he speaks directly to God, not only his humor but also an idea of spirituality that is inclusive of more than Buddhism, is intact:

it’s all right fellows, it’s just a joke,
you had me scared for a moment God, i thought you were serious,
i was beginning to believe that this was really your idea of life,
i know second fifth, but you made it sound so unbelievable,
You’re the only one in this whole big universal gin mill, believe me god,
who could get away with it, even that oldest boy of yours
& yet even he, your own fleshlessness & bloodlessness, was helpless when it came to dirty jokes. (“I Wish…”)

Or in his “Heavy Water Blues” when he notes:

When reading all those thick books on the life of god,
it should be noted that they were all written by men.

It is perfectly all right to cast the first stone,
if you have some more in your pocket.

From Golden Sardine and Solitudes through the “Abomunist Manifesto” and its later addendum through the Ancient Rain, from gems of previously uncollected poems through Beatitudes (a magazine that Kaufman confounded and edited with Allen Ginsberg, John Kelly, and William Margolis), this volume lets Kaufman reveal his life and legacy, his strengths and weaknesses, even as he surveys America, the planet, and indeed the universe with humor, satire, passion, and a lucidity born of jazz riffs and African rhythms. When all is said and done, Kaufman is a poet of the world; mythologies and histories hold court in his poems.

Bob Kaufman will always be surrounded by myth and mystery. He was in San Francisco first in 1946 as a maritime sailor and returned some years later. But was it with his brother Donald in 1950, as some have said, or with Burroughs and Ginsberg whom he met in New York, as others aver? Thus, if one wants to know Bob Kaufman, it is best to look not in the filigree memories and scraps of official papers that can be offered, but in his poems. His life is laid out there.

Whether I am a poet or not, I use fifty dollars’ worth of air every day, cool.
In order to exist I hide behind stacks of red and blue poems

(“Afterwards, They Shall Dance”)

It is in his poems you find his love for his son Parker, his second wife Eileen, and several other friends and family members who shared his road if only for a season. In his poems you find Kaufman

Seeing only the holdings
Inside the walls of me,
Feeling the roots that bind me,
To this mere human tree
(“Private Sadness”)

Kaufman is also unabashedly Black or, in the fading lingo of his times, Negro. He proclaims who he is but seems to also magnify to become more than just his person, as in “Oregon” where he chants:

You are with me Oregon,
Day and night, I feel you, Oregon.
I am Negro, I am Oregon.
Oregon is me, the planet

Kaufman is indeed a Black Beat and wants this to be remembered, wants his sense of self to be remembered. I don’t doubt Kaufman heard people repeatedly say, “I don’t see color,” which loosely translated means, “I don’t see you.” Bob Kaufman demands to be not just heard but seen and to have his people seen, as in “Untitled”:

THE SUN IS A NEGRO.

THE MOTHER OF THE SUN IS A NEGRO.

One wonders if Kaufman was always a poet. True, he told some that he studied briefly at New York’s the New School in the 1940s where he met William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, with whom he travelled to San Francisco, but this was likely part of the mythology he created. (Ginsberg, for example, said they met in 1959.) Is it more likely that he became a poet much earlier, while he walked the streets of New Orleans, while he sailed the planet’s numbered seas? Although he was dead at the relatively young age of 60 after living nearly half of his life in San Francisco, he left an impressive body of work, albeit small in the number of pages, and most of it can be found in this volume. Here one finds the familiar and the more recently unearthed and translated, the deeply personal and the adamantly political, the profoundly spiritual and wryly philosophical, all braided with cosmic and comic realities of our universe. This book is a reflection of Kaufman’s genius, a welcome gathering of his songs and chants, a needed compendium of the depth of his heart and the breadth of his knowledge and the humility of his spirit.

When Kaufman speaks in “Dolorous Echo” of holes in skin and hairs on head that won’t stay dead ending with “When I die, / I won’t stay / Dead,” he speaks a truth that we can be grateful for. Alive and in full verse, his poems can be found here revealing his life, his soul, his prayers, and his reflections on our planet and universe in language that reads as vibrantly today as they were when he spat them out, filling the ears of all who would listen.

You can, of course, simply read this book, poem to poem, and become immersed in the rhythms, the emotions, the insights, the songs. But I recommend you put some music in back as you read. Play some Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, go find that Billie Holiday, discover or rediscover that Coltrane, find not only some Ray Charles but some gut-bucket blues, and slip in a bit of Bartok to better hear the muses who fed his soul. And then prepare to take a journey that climbs mountains and may dangle you over dangerous cliffs, will lift you upwards towards the stars and drop you back into the brutal reality that is America, before it sets you free in the wondrous possibilities that inhabit our universe.

devorah major

3 Poems from COLLECTED POEMS OF BOB KAUFMAN

WOULD YOU WEAR MY EYES?


My body is a torn mattress,
Disheveled throbbing place
For the comings and goings
Of loveless transients.
The whole of me
Is an unfurnished room
Filled with dank breath
Escaping in gasps to nowhere.
Before completely objective mirrors
I have shot myself with my eyes,
But death refused my advances.
I have walked on my walls each night
Through strange landscapes in my head.
I have brushed my teeth with orange peel,
Iced with cold blood from the dripping faucets.
My face is covered with maps of dead nations;
My hair is littered with drying ragweed.
Bitter raisins drip haphazardly from my nostrils
While schools of glowing minnows swim from my mouth.
The nipples of my breasts are sun-browned cockleburrs;
Long-forgotten Indian tribes fight battles on my chest
Unaware of the sunken ships rotting in my stomach.
My legs are charred remains of burned cypress tress;
My feet are covered with moss from bayous, flowing across my floor.
I can’t go out anymore.
I shall sit on my ceiling.
Would you wear my eyes?

BAGEL SHOP JAZZ


Shadow people, projected on coffee-shop walls.
Memory formed echoes of a generation past
Beating into now.
Nightfall creatures, eating each other
Over a noisy cup of coffee.
Mulberry-eyed girls in black stockings,
Smelling vaguely of mint jelly and last night’s bongo drummer,
Making profound remarks on the shapes of navels,
Wondering how the short Sunset week
Became the long Grant Avenue night,
Love tinted, beat angels,
Doomed to see their coffee dreams
Crushed on the floors of time,
As they fling their arrow legs
To the heavens,
Losing their doubts in the beat.
Turtle-neck angel guys, black-haired dungaree guys,
Caesar-jawed, with synagogue eyes,
World travelers on the forty-one bus,
Mixing jazz with paint talk,
High rent, Bartok, classical murders,
The pot shortage and last night’s bust.
Lost in a dream world,
Where time is told with a beat.
Coffee-faced Ivy Leaguers, in Cambridge jackets,
Whose personal Harvard was a Fillmore district step,
Weighted down with conga drums,
The ancestral cross, the Othello-laid curse,
Talking of Bird and Diz and Miles,
The secret terrible hurts,
Wrapped in cool hipster smiles,
Telling themselves, under the talk,
This shot must be the end,
Hoping the beat is really the truth.
The guilty police arrive.
Brief, beautiful shadows, burned on walls of night.

THE ANCIENT RAIN


At the illusion world that has come into existence of world that exists secretly, as meanwhile the humorous Nazis on television will not be as laughable, but be replaced by silent and blank TV screens. At this time, the dead nations of Europe and Asia shall cast up the corpses from the graveyards they have become. But today the Ancient Rain falls, from the far sky. It will be white like the rain that fell on the day Abraham Lincoln died. It shall be red rain like the rain that fell when George Washington abolished monarchy. It shall be blue rain like the rain that fell when John Fitzgerald Kennedy died.


They will see the bleached skeletons that they have become. By then, it shall be too late for them. All the symbols shall return to the realm of the symbolic and reality become the meaning again. In the meantime, masks of life continue to cover the landscape. Now on the landscape of the death earth, the Luftwaffe continues to fly into Volkswagens through the asphalt skies of death.


It shall be black rain like the rain that fell on the day Martin Luther King died. It shall be the Ancient Rain that fell on the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. It shall be the Ancient Rain that fell when Nathan Hale died. It shall be the brown rain that fell on the day Crispus Attucks died. It shall be the Ancient Rain the fell on July Fourth, 1776, when America became alive. In America, the Ancient Rain is beginning to fall again. The Ancient Rain falls from a distant secret sky. It shall fall here on America, which alone, remains alive, on this earth of death. The Ancient Rain is supreme and is aware of all things that have ever happened. The Ancient Rain shall be brilliant yellow as it was on the day Custer died. The Ancient Rain is the source of all things, the Ancient Rain knows all secrets, the Ancient Rain illuminates America. The Ancient Rain shall kill genocide.


The Ancient Rain shall bring death to those who love and feel only themselves. The Ancient Rain is all colors, all forms, all shapes, all sizes. The Ancient Rain is a mystery known only to itself. The Ancient Rain filled the seas. The Ancient Rain killed all the dinosaurs and left one dinosaur skeleton to remind the world that the Ancient Rain is falling again.


The Ancient Rain splits nations that have died in the Ancient Rain, nations so that they can see the culture of the living dead they have become, the Ancient Rain is falling on America now. It shall kill D.W. Griffith and the Ku Klux Klan; Hollywood shall die in the Ancient Rain. The nation was born in the Ancient Rain, July 4, 1776. The Ancient Rain shall cause the Continental Congress to be born again.


The Ancient Rain is perfection. The Ancient Rain cured the plague without medicine. The Ancient Rain is vindictive. The Ancient drops are volcanoes and in one moment destroyed Pompeii and brought Caesar down, and now Caesar is fallen. This Roman Empire is no more. The Ancient Rain falls silently and secretly. The Ancient Rain leave mysteries that remain, and no man can solve. Easter Island is a lonely place.


The Ancient Rain wets people with truth and they expose themselves to the Ancient Rain. Egypt has a silent sphinx and pyramids made of death chambers so that Egypt remembers the day the Ancient Rain drowned it forever. The mummies no longer speak, but they remember the fury of the Ancient Rain. Their tombs have been sawed in pieces and moved to the graveyard to make way for the pool of Ancient Rain that has taken their place.


The Ancient Rain saw Washington standing at Appomattox and it fell on Lee as he laid down his sword. The Ancient Rain fell on the Confederacy and it was no more.


The Ancient Rain is falling again. The Ancient Rain is falling on the waves of immigrants who fled their homelands to come to this home of Ancient Rain to be free of tyranny and hunger and injustice, and who now refuse to go to school with Crispus Attucks, the Ancient Rain knows they were starving in Europe. The Ancient Rain is falling. It is falling on the N.A.T.O. meetings. It is falling in Red Square. Will there be war or peace? The Ancient Rain knows, but does not say. I make speculations of my own, but I do not discuss them, because the Ancient Rain is falling.


The Ancient Rain is falling in the time of a war crisis, people of Europe profess to want peace, as they prepare day and night for war, with the exception of France and England. They are part of the N.A.T.O. alliance. I believe that Russia wants war. Russia supports any Communist nation to war with weapons and political stances on behalf of any Communist political move. This will eventually lead to war—a war that shall make World War Three, the largest war ever.


The Ancient Rain is falling all over America now. The music of the Ancient Rain is heard everywhere. The music is purely American, not European. It is the voice of the American Revolution. It shall play forever. The Ancient Rain is falling in Philadelphia. The bell is tolling. The South cannot hear it. The South hears the Ku Klux Klan, until the bell drowns them out. The Ancient Rain is falling.


The Ancient Rain does what it wants. It does not explain to anyone. The Ancient Rain fell on Hart Crane. He committed suicide in the Gulf of Mexico. Now the Washington Monument is bathed in the celestial lights of the Ancient Rain. The Ancient Rain is falling in America, and all the nations that gather on the East River to try to prevent a star prophecy of 37 million deaths in World War III. They cannot see the Ancient Rain, but live in it, hoping that it does not want war. They would be the victims…in Asia, the Orient, Europe, and in South America. The Ancient Rain will cause them to speak the languages they brought with them. The Ancient Rain did not see them in America when Crispus Attucks was falling before the British guns on the Boston Commons. The Ancient Rain is falling again from the place where the Ancient Rain lives. Alone. The Ancient Rain thinks of Crockett and falls on the Santa Ana Freeway and it becomes a smog source.


The Ancient Rain wets my face and I am freed from hatreds of me that disguise themselves with racist bouquets. The Ancient Rain has moved me to another world, where the people stand still and the streets moved me to destination. I look down on the Earth and see myself wandering in the Ancient Rain, ecstatic, aware that the death I feel around me is in the hands of the Ancient Rain and those who plan death for me and dreams are known to the Ancient Rain…silent, humming raindrops of the Ancient Rain.


The Ancient Rain is falling. The Washington
Monument rumbles.
The Lincoln Memorial is surrounded by stars.
Mount Rushmore stares into every face.
The Continental Congress meets in the home of
the Ancient Rain.
Nathan Hale stands immaculate at the entrance
to the Capitol.
Crispus Attucks is taken to school by Thomas
Jefferson.
Boston is quiet.
The Ancient Rain is falling.


The Ancient Rain is falling everywhere, in Hollywood, only Shirley Temple understands the