For Jack Helen Weaver Poetry

by Helen Weaver

Published in Issue No. 126 ~ November, 2007

there was always something between us

your glass of red wine

my eyes full of tears

on the day you entered history

carrying a sack of manuscripts on your back

I watched you like someone

who has been watching a door for twenty years

sees it suddenly blow open

admit a breath of snow and stars

and then blow shut again

perhaps for a lifetime

I watched you lay your athlete’s body down

across the railroad earth

to make a bridge for souls

I saw you give your manhood

so generations could wake up from a death

that only you could see with such sad clarity

I watched with tears

for you who blew into the dead winter

of my young womanhood

fresh from America

and filled me with a sound like children laughing

and loved my morning song

were not at peace

I saw it in your eyes

the road ahead of you led through the abyss

you bowed your head and went on through

no time for simple joy

it’s all a dream, you said

by dying you proved yourself right

there’s nothing between us now

as you pore over the endless scroll of life

and your cats sleep in the sun

the image fades into the light

faint brush strokes on the blinding page

The Responsibility of Allen Ginsberg

(for a friend who said she couldn’t put “Allen Ginsberg” and “responsibility”
in the same sentence)

Clearly I have a different definition of the word

I think Allen was one of the most responsible people I’ve known

He was responsible to his Muse

He was responsible to his friends

He was responsible to all the poets who got busted for smoking grass and
who he bailed out when he was living in a cold water walkup on nothing a year

He was responsible to his job which was waking people up telling the truth
and making his life into poems

He was responsible to all the scared gay guys who now aren’t scared any more

He was responsible to the people who still aren’t ashamed to call themselves liberals or even socialists

He was responsible to New York San Francisco Denver Mexico Canada and all
the continent in between

He was responsible to the King’s English and the queens

He was responsible to Blake and Whitman, to Kerouac and Burroughs and
Cassady, to Corso and Rimbaud and Artaud

He was responsible to the future which is more than you can say for the
motherfuckers who run this country from the president on down (or rather up)

He was responsible to all the kids who burned their draft cards and went to
Canada and to the pacifists of old and to the pacifists who weren’t even born yet

He was responsible to Lenny Bruce and free speech and the Bill of Rights
and the ACLU

He was responsible to all the people who got electric shock treatments in
the fifties and who died insane anyway

He was responsible to his mother Naomi who served him uncooked fish and an
inedible childhood and died in Greystone State Mental Hospital eli eli lama

He was responsible to all of us including people who never heard of him and
people who’ve heard of him but never read him and people who’ve read him but
can’t spell his name

He was responsible to Life

He was responsible to America and we should be so lucky to have one like
him again

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Helen Weaver is the author of a The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties (City Lights Publishing, 2009). As a professional translator, Weaver has rendered some 50 books from the French. Her translation of The Selected Writings of Antonin Artaud was a finalist for the National Book Award.