who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
   impossible criminals with golden heads and the
   charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
   blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
   Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
   or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
   Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
   daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
   notism & were left with their insanity & their
   hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
   and subsequently presented themselves on the
   granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
   and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-
   stantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
   Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-
   therapy occupational therapy pingpong &
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
   pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
   returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
   blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
   man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the
Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid
   halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-
   ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
   dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-
   mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the

Excerpt from ‘Howl‘ by poet Allen Ginsberg. The poem was dedicated to Ginsberg’s friend, Carl Solomon, whom he met while they were both patients at Rockland Psychiatric Hospital in New York.

Link to full text of ‘Howl’.

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