Poet’s Beat ~ “Transformation & Escape” by Gregory Corso feat.Gil Fuller & Monterey Jazz Festival – Things Are Here – Feat. Dizzy Gillespie

For Kandinsky-Great grandson Anton S. Kandinsky
For Kandinsky-Great grandson Anton S. Kandinsky

This is a prelude to an understanding and appreciation for poetry and jazz in terms of harmonic complexities and spontaneous or improvisation utterances from the soul of the poet in both an acoustic and literary styles.  The American social and literary movement of the 1950s and ’60s brought out the artists’ communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.  For me, I had the best of all of these locations growing up and experimenting with sounds and words and colors.  Its modality was expressed alienation from conventional society and advocated personal expression and illumination infused with an awareness and higher state of consciousness.  The Beat poets, included Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso who sought to liberate poetry from academia creating verse that was syncopated extrapolations of American life that was sometimes sprinkled with missives, and digressions but very powerful and moving.  It was a time that was riddled with LSD and mushrooms from Kerouac that I felt was not truly an expression of genius but a drug induced state that smacked of “Alice in Wonderland” perspective leaving out the key elements of Jazz Poetry and its impact in our lives.  This poem I believe establishes that.  Peace Out! JBC 😎

 

 Transformation & Escape

BY GREGORY CORSO

1

 

I reached heaven and it was syrupy.

It was oppressively sweet.

Croaking substances stuck to my knees.

Of all substances St. Michael was stickiest.

I grabbed him and pasted him on my head.

I found God a gigantic fly paper.

I stayed out of his way.

I walked where everything smelled of burnt chocolate.

Meanwhile St. Michael was busy with his sword

hacking away at my hair.

I found Dante standing naked in a blob of honey.

Bears were licking his thighs.

I snatched St. Michael’s sword

and quartered myself in a great circular adhesive.

My torso fell upon an elastic equilibrium.

As though shot from a sling

my torso whizzed at God fly paper.

My legs sank into some unimaginable sog.

My head, though weighed with the weight of St. Michael,

did not fall.

Fine strands of multi-colored gum

suspended it there.

My spirit stopped by my snared torso.

I pulled! I yanked! Rolled it left to right!

It bruised! It softened! It could not free!

The struggle of an Eternity!

An Eternity of pulls! of yanks!

Went back to my head,

St. Michael had sucked dry my brainpan!

Skull!

My skull!

Only skull in heaven!

Went to my legs.

St. Peter was polishing his sandals with my knees!

I pounced upon him!

Pummeled his face in sugar in honey in marmalade!

Under each arm I fled with my legs!

The police of heaven were in hot pursuit!

I hid within the sop of St. Francis.

Gasping in the confectionery of his gentility

I wept, caressing my intimidated legs.

 

2

 

They caught me.

They took my legs away.

They sentenced me in the firmament of an ass.

The prison of an Eternity!

An Eternity of labor! of hee-haws!

Burdened with the soiled raiment of saints

I schemed escape.

Lugging ampullae its daily fill

I schemed escape.

I schemed climbing impossible mountains.

I schemed under the Virgin’s whip.

I schemed to the sound of celestial joy.

I schemed to the sound of earth,

the wail of infants,

the groans of men,

the thud of coffins.

I schemed escape.

God was busy switching the spheres from hand to hand.

The time had come.

I cracked my jaws.

Broke my legs.

Sagged belly-flat on plow

on pitchfork

on scythe.

My spirit leaked from the wounds.

A whole spirit pooled.

I rose from the carcass of my torment.

I stood in the brink of heaven.

And I swear that Great Territory did quake

when I fell, free.

Gregory Corso, “Transformation & Escape” from The Happy Birthday of Death. Copyright © 1960 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Mindfield: New and Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1989)

 

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