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POEMS

By JACK MICHELINE, 1960/ 1982

Source: http://www.echonyc.com/~poets/poetry/michelin.htm
Portrait of Jack Micheline

I never wanted to be a poet.
I just wanted to be a human being.
Anyone who wants to be a poet is out of his mind.
Either you are one or you are not.
Most poets are not poets.
To be a real artist is a unique and valuable asset to this planet."

SAD FOR AN UNBRAVE WORLD

POET OF THE STREETS

January 31, 1960, East Bleecker
This poem turned the tide of my death, written on First Avenue off the Bowery. In an alley of great souls.

I walk east of Bleecker
the sky is blue
on this Sunday evening

there is something deeper than the earth
there is something deeper than the stone cities
there is something deeper than our existence
than all the robes of power

power and the night bleeding gutters with crutches
power and the night and the neon vibrating
the night and thirty moons and sharpies
the night and the railroad yards gleaming
the night and the sky
the night and billboards and darkness

across a nation skeletons and machinery
jaundice, joints and lips of connivers
burnt Christmass trees
jazz horns and drummers

above concrete
above whimpering voices
above calculators
riders with tokens in their hands
riders to the sea

a nation of cowards
cowards wrapped in academic cloth

over all in darkness
over all who live in deserts
over all shells covering
over all that are wasted

burying all in nothingness
burying all that is soul
burying all with layers of armour
burying herds with still voices
burying all in the nowhere of silence

herring and fish in cans
turkey and chicken in cans
humans in cells of unknowing
there is more to life than the lights of savage civilizations
there is more to life than all the words spoken
there is more to life than the eye can see

I see the sun of angels
hemp and sugar and wheat
blood and sinew within the flesh
ticker tapes, grey hair, jowls on faces
dollars and gods and people sold and traded

people dying for nothing
people selling their minds and bodies
people without courage
people with no teeth in drug stores

death loaded with goods
givers of death and more death
cranes and deep hookers
cutting shears for the young
newspapers stunting the mind
dollars the spoiler of ships of bananas

I see your faces as I stroll through the cities
the wind touching the faces of whores
the vision of poets encompassing all
song of children outside the brick houses

there is nothing deeper than life and the livers of life
mankind raped in the bank vaults of steel
dead soldiers, battlefields surrounded by iron and ironies

a million lost sunsets
a poet unconquered with the legacy of Whitman and Lorca
a poet unconquered by stone, by glass, by greed, by madness

the lights blaze on in the night
lights and the cold wind
visions above all death
cows milked dry, golden crosses
the sky blazing with miracles

a poet walks in the cold wind
his head raised humble and unafraid
death around him filled with waste and banners
death all around him
walking alone with birds above the canoe shaped moons
sounds are heard and the sky glows in darkness.

POEM FOR THE CHILDREN

Amsterdam, Nov. 19, 1982

A child walks in a dream
her eyes dance in the night of stars
someday when the moon is full
the gypsies come home and they will dance forever
and all the ships that never sailed will sail forever
and all the flowers that have not bloomed will bloom forever
A child walks in a dream
and all the stars that have not shown will shine forever
and all the children that could not dance will dance forever
A child walks in a dream


About Jack Micheline
(born December 6, 1929 in The Bronx, New York; died February 27, 1998 in San Francisco, California) was a Bay Area painter and poet. His name is synonymous with street artists, underground writers, and "outlaw" poets. One of San Francisco's original Beat poets, he was an innovative artist who was active in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s. - Born Harold Martin Silver, he took his pen name from writer Jack London, and moved to Greenwich Village in the 1950s, where he became a street poet, drawing on Harlem blues and jazz rhythms and the cadence of word music. He lived on the fringe of poverty, writing about hookers, drug addicts, blue collar workers, and the dispossessed. In 1957, Troubadour Press published his first book River of Red Wine; Jack Kerouac wrote the introduction, and it was reviewed by Dorothy Parker in Esquire magazine. Micheline relocated to San Francisco in the early 1960s, where he spent the rest of his life. He published over twenty books, some of them mimeographs and chapbooks. - Micheline was married twice, to Pat Cherkin in the 1950s, and to Marian "Mimi" Redding in the early 1960s. His only child was born to a mistress during his second marriage. - Though a poet of the Beat generation, Micheline characterized the Beat movement as a product of media hustle, and hated being categorized as a Beat poet. He was also a painter, working primarily with gouache in a self-taught, primitive style he picked up in Mexico City. - Micheline died of a heart attack while riding a BART subway train from San Francisco to Orinda in 1998. The back room at San Francisco's Abandoned Planet Bookstore still showcases Micheline's wall mural paintings. - Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Micheline

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