You Hungry Thing

 

Jasper_Johns-Order_and_Disorder
Order and Disorder – Jasper Johns

“I remember making designs in the dark with a fast moving lit cigarette.”

Joe Brainard – I Remember

 

The Sonnets LXV

by Ted Berrigan (1934 – 1983)

Dreams, aspirations of presence! Innocence gleaned,
annealed! The world in its mysteries are explained,
and the struggles of babies congeal. A hard core is formed.
Today I thought about all those radio waves
He eats of the fruits of the great Speckle bird,
Pissing on the grass!
I too am reading the technical journals,
Rivers of annoyance undermine the arrangements
Someone said “Blake-blues” and someone else “pill-head”
Meaning bloodhounds.
Washed by Joe’s throbbing hands
She is introspection.
It is a Chinese signal.
There is no such thing as a breakdown

 


Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett were part of the second wave of the New York School of poets during the 1960’s. Like their counterparts, poets Anne Waldman, Joe Brainard, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara, the spirit of The New York School was heavily influenced by surrealism that mixed serious subjects with humor, wit and a playful collaborative spirit that stretched across the visual arts, art criticism and the theater.

What’s interesting about the New York School is for all the dissimilarity in poetic style among the poets, they had many things in common. Many of the poets associated with the New York School:

– Attended Harvard University
– Completed Military Service
– Were Homosexual or Bi-Sexual (Berrigan was married and had two children)
– Reviewed art
– And the obvious one, lived in New York City during the early stages of their writing career.

Both Ron Padgett and Ted Berrigan were heavily influenced by The Beat Poets, in particular Kerouac. My favorite poem by Ron Padgett, How To Be Perfect, doesn’t lend itself to Fourteenlines as its too long, but is worth the read. Here’s the link if you are so inclined for something longer today and aspire to be perfect.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57243/how-to-be-perfect

Berrigan used the line – “There is no such thing as a breakdown”, in more than one of his sonnets.  For a man who died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 49, you have to wonder if he felt his spiral of self destruction was pre-ordained or was it a plaintive plea for a change in direction before it was too late?

Do you have a favorite poet from this movement and a favorite poem?  Share in the comments section, I would love to hear your opinion.


The Love Cook

by Ron Padgett

Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes
and socks and in fact the rest
of your clothes, have a daquiri,
turn on some music and dance
around the house, inside and out,
it’s night and the neighbors
are sleeping, those dolts, and
the stars are shining bright,
and I’ve got the burners lit
for you, you hungry thing.