Poem that makes me think – Understand that this is a dream, Allen Ginsberg


Understand that this is a dream

Real as a dream

What shall I do with this great opportunity to fly?

What is the interpretation of this planet, this moon?

if I can dream that I dream / and dream anything dreamable / can I dream

I am awake / and why do that?

When I dream in a dream that I wake / up what

happens when I try to move?

I dream that I move

and the effort moves and moves

till I move / and my arm hurts

Then I wake up / dismayed / I was dreaming / I was waking

when I was dreaming still / just now.

and try to remember next time in dreams

that I am in dreaming.

And dream anything I want when I’m awaken.

When I’m in awakeness what do I desire?

I desire to fulfill my emotional belly.

My whole body my heart in my fingertops thrill with some old fulfillments.

Pages of celestial rhymes burning fire-words

unconsumable but disappear.

Arcane parchments my own and the universe the answer.

Belly to Belly and knee to knee.

The hot spurt of my body to thee and thee

old boy / dreamy Earl / you Prince of Paterson / now king of me / lost


first dream that made me take down my pants

urgently to show the cars / auto tracks / rolling down avenue hill.

That far back what do I remember / but the face of the leader of the gang

was blond / that loved me / one day on the steps of his house blocks away

all afternoon I told him about my magic Spell

I can do anything I want / palaces millions / chemistry sets / chicken

coops / white horses

stables and torture basements / I inspect my naked victims

chained upside down / my fingertips thrill approval on their thighs

white hairless cheeks I may kiss all I want

at my mercy. on the racks.

I pass with my strong attendants / I am myself naked

bending down with my buttocks out

for their smacks of reproval / o the heat of desire

liek shit in my asshole. The strange gang

across the street / thru the grocerystore / in the wood alley / out in the open

on the corner

Because I lied to the Dentist about that chickencoop roofing / slate stolen off

his garage

by me and the boy I loved who would punish me if he knew

what I loved him.

That now I have had that boy back in another blond form

Peter Orlovsky a Chinese teenager in Bangkok ten years twenty years

Jo Army on the campus / white blond loins / my mouth hath kisses /

full of his cock / my ass burning / full of his cock

all that I do desire. In dream and awake

this handsome body mine / answered

all I desired / intimate loves / open eyed / revealed at last / clothes on the


Underwear the most revealing stripped off below the belly button in bed.

That’s that / yes yes / the flat cocks the red pricks the gentle public hair /

alone with me

my magic spell. My power / what I desire alone / what after thirty years /

I got forever / after thirty years / satisfied enough with Peter / with all I

wanted /

with many men I knew one generation / our sperm passing

into our mouths and bellies / beautiful when I love / given.

Now the dream oldens / I olden / my hair a year long / my thirtyeight

birthday approaching.

I dream I

am bald / am disappearing / the campus unrecognizable / Haledon Avenue

will be covered with neon / motels / Supermarkets / iron

the porches and woods changed when i go back / to see Earl again

He’ll be bald / fleshy father / I could pursie him further in the garage

If there’s still a garage on the hill / on the planet / when I get back.

From Asia.

If I could even remember his name or his face / or find him /

When I was ten / perhaps he exists in some form.

With a belly and a belt and an auto

Whatever his last name / I never knew / in the phonebook / the Akashic


I’ll write my Inspiration for all Mankind to remember,

My Idea, the secret cave / in the clothes closet / that house probably down /

Nothing to go back to / everything’s gone / only my idea

that’s disappearing / even in dreams / gray dust piles / instant annihilation

of World War II and all its stainless steel shining-mouthed cannons

much less me and my grammar school kisses / I never kissed in time /

and go on kissing in dream and out on the street / as if it were for ever.

No forever left! Even my oldest forever gone, in Bangkok, in Benares,

swept up with words and bodies / all into the brown Ganges /

passing the burning grounds and / into the police state.

My mind, my mind / you had six feet of Earth to hoe /

Why didn’t you remember and plant the seed of Law and gather the sprouts

of What?

the golden blossoms of what idea? If I dream that I dream / what dream

should I dream next? Motorcycle rickshaws / parting lamp shine / little

taxis / horses hoofs

on this Saigon midnight street. Angkor Wat ahead and the ruined city’s old

Hindu faces

and there was a dream about Eternity. What should I dream when I wake?

What’s left to dream, more Chinese meat? More magic Spells? More youths

to love before I change & disappear?

More dream words? For now that I know that I am dreaming /

What next for you Allen? Run down to the Presidents Palace full of Morphine /

The cocks crowing / in the street / Dawn trucks / What is the question?

Do I need sleep, now that there’s light in the window?

I’ll go to sleep. Signing off until / the next idea / the moving van arrives


at the Doctor’s house full of Chinese furniture.


Think I must have held my breath when reading this one because the tempo of it just sped through for me. Beautiful poem, there’s sadness, brutal honesty, longing for something out of reach, accepting of a Present that perhaps is not all that you envisaged for yourself – not knowing what you envisaged for yourself, perhaps. Melancholic as always, stirring as I’ve so suddenly found all of Ginsberg’s work to be. I am in awe. Think this is my favourite of his so far yet, and I’ve still not go back to Howl.


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