A Sunday Memorial for Allen Ginsberg

Allen, we came to honour you today
Allen, can you hear us in your celestial grave?
You roly-poly imp of a man,
you stood below everyone and
Roared like a lion

Man, you made the squalor on the street
glisten with truth and beauty
cherished the golden life of sunflowers
beneath man’s tainted progress
You sang to that good
wherever you saw it
Allen, can you hear us as we sing your praises now?

I was naïve when you appeared
across the street from the White House
It was too much for you to
pass up the opportunity
that Artists could influence Presidents
“Every day you walk by there you said
Every day you can protest
It’s your right. It is your duty”

You sparked a momentary curiosity
but later a fire burned in my belly
when I saw the evening news
Kent state, killed by our own guards,
And children
with sweet, haunted, faces
running along a jungle road
into the silent scream – the wide gulf that opened
the terrible sadness between us

Years later,
I heard you again on the radio
found myself in your Howl
lost myself in your humour
thought of you as the voice of America
I saw your foibles and marvelled at how you
found the poetry in them that
I had failed to see

Today Allen, we honour you in death
because you honoured life
In it’s unseemly underbelly,
you deciphered songs that remind us
of our common heritage,
of rage, of humour,
of blessedness, bittersweet losses, and
the profound and transient awareness
that prevails as the only constant,
ever ready to receive us.

You taught that the belly needs to eat
and the soul needs to sing
But your mission is at last ended,
survived by countless poems that live on without you
They wail and gnash their teeth in the night, as you
dream sweetly, in restful repose

Farewell sweet poet,
your name was Allen Ginsberg, and now
We sing your praises.

Vancouver, September 28th, 1997.