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Sunflower Sutra

Sunflower Sutra - Allen Ginsberg

 I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and 
     sat down under the huge shade of a Southern 
     Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the 
     box house hills and cry. 
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron 
     pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts 
     of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, sur- 
     rounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of 
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun 
     sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that 
     stream, no hermit in those mounts, just our- 
     selves rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums 
     on the riverbank, tired and wily. 
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray 
     shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting 
     dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust-- 
--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower, 
     memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem 
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes 
     Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black 
     treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the 
     poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel 
     knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck 
     and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the 
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, 
     crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog 
     and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye-- 
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like 
     a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, 
     soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sun- 
     rays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried 
     wire spiderweb, 
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures 
     from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster 
     fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear, 
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O 
     my soul, I loved you then! 
The grime was no man's grime but death and human 
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad 
     skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black 
     mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuber- 
     ance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial-- 
     modern--all that civilization spotting your 
     crazy golden crown-- 
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless 
     eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the 
     home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar 
     bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards 
     of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely 
     tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what 
     more could I name, the smoked ashes of some 
     cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the 
     milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs 
     & sphincters of dynamos--all these 
entangled in your mummied roots--and you there 
     standing before me in the sunset, all your glory 
     in your form! 
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent 
     lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye 
     to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited 
     grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden 
     monthly breeze! 
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your 
     grime, while you cursed the heavens of the rail- 
     road and your flower soul? 
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a 
     flower? when did you look at your skin and 
     decide you were an impotent dirty old locomo- 
     tive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and 
     shade of a once powerful mad American locomo- 
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a 
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me 
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck 
     it at my side like a scepter, 
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul 
     too, and anyone who'll listen, 
--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread 
     bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all 
     beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're bles- 
     sed by our own seed & golden hairy naked ac- 
     complishment-bodies growing into mad black 
     formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our 
     eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive 
     riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit- 
     down vision.