- 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,
- surrounded 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 ourselves
- 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, sunrays
- 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 protuberance
- 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
- railroad 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 locomotive?
- the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
- shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
- 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 blessed
- by our own seed & golden hairy naked
- accomplishment-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
- sitdown vision.
William Blake : Ah! Sunflower
Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
What poem will you write today?
Ah! Sunflower Sutra
Sunflower tips tracing sun
head bobbing agreement with progress
seeds dropping descendants.
Metal cyborg flowers grow tall
heaps of ashes phoenix stems
buds open too fast in warmed globe.