Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
When I was an undergrad, a bunch of us English majors at SUNY Brockport piled in the car to drive to UB to see Allan Ginsberg read. It was a couple years before he died, and I was very young, perhaps 21 or 22. Ginsberg’s years were showing then, as well as the life he led. You could see the intellect that wrote “America” and “Howl,” but only in flashes. It was disturbing, but he was also sweet and seemed happy.
I don’t think the Ginsberg that wrote “America” would be happy now.
Ginsberg and “America” have been on my mind lately as the upcoming presidential race has more people disturbing my willful ignorance by talking about politics. I don’t mind it, particularly, although it gets me riled up sometimes. Like Ginsberg in this poem (and, I think, life), I want to like everything, but I get moody and impatient and frustrated and tired. I’m not a huge Ginsberg fan. I tend to like poems that are more compact and more crafted, but when he’s at his best, as he is here, his self-aware stream-of-consciousness speaks to me. “Why are your libraries full of tears?” indeed. (At WPL, it’s mostly because the kids hate to leave the Children’s Room, but that’s another story.)
[Looking for the roundup? Look no further than The Simple and the Ordinary.]