Poem that makes me think – My sad self, Allen Ginsberg


My sad self

To Frank O’Hara

Sometimes when my eyes are red

I go up on top of the RCA Building

and gaze at my world, Manhattan—

my buildings, streets I’ve done feats in,

lofts, beds, coldwater flats

—on Fifth Ave below which I also bear in mind,

its ant cars, little yellow taxis, men

walking the size of specks of wool—

Panorama of the bridges, sunrise over Brooklyn machine,

sun go down over New Jersey where I was born

& Paterson where I played with ants—

my later loves on 15th Street,

my greater loves of Lower East Side,

my once fabulous amours in the Bronx


paths crossing in these hidden streets,

my history summed up, my absences

and ecstasies in Harlem—

—sun shining down on all I own

in one eyeblink to the horizon

in my last eternity—

matter is water.


I take the elevator and go

down, pondering,

and walk on the pavements staring into all man’s

plateglass, faces,

questioning after who loves,

and stop, bemused

in front of an automobile shopwindow

standing lost in calm thought,

traffic moving up & down 5th Avenue blocks behind me

waiting for a moment when …

Time to go home & cook supper & listen to

the romantic war news on the radio

… all movement stops

& I walk in the timeless sadness of existence,

tenderness flowing thru the buildings,

my fingertips touching reality’s face,

my own face streaked with tears in the mirror

of some window—at dusk—

where I have no desire—

for bonbons—or to own the dresses or Japanese

lampshades of intellection—

Confused by the spectacle around me,

Man struggling up the street

with packages, newspapers,

ties, beautiful suits

toward his desire

Man, woman, streaming over the pavements

red lights clocking hurried watches &

movements at the curb—

And all these streets leading

so crosswise, honking, lengthily,

by avenues

stalked by high buildings or crusted into slums

thru such halting traffic

screaming cars and engines

so painfully to this

countryside, this graveyard

this stillness

on deathbed or mountain

once seen

never regained or desired

in the mind to come

where all Manhattan that I’ve seen must disappear.

Allen Ginsberg


I am a recent Ginsberg convert. Recent, as in, today. Howl somewhat escaped my understanding so I, unwisely, dismissed all other works by Ginsberg, which is not really me at all – normally I pay the poet no mind and concentrate on the poem itself, then realise who actually has written it.

For whatever reason, though, I was turned away from Ginsberg.

As is the way of the internet there was a strange, out of the blue prompt that made me want to try other things by Ginsberg, and this is second one I read, and first I really liked.

It is actually such simple imagery but conjures up such incredible pictures in my mind, this little microcosm of a life that is both a melancholic and fond look back over a life, and acceptance of whatever changes are to come.

Definitely going to go and give Howl another go at some point today, see what I may have missed the first time around 🙂


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