Ted Berrigan

(15 November 1934 – 4 July 1983 / Providence, Rhode Island)

Things To Do On Speed - Poem by Ted Berrigan

mind clicks into gear
& fingers clatter over the keyboard
as intricate insights stream
out of your head;
this goes on for ten hours:
then, take a break: clean
all desk drawers, arrange all
pens & pencils in precise parallel patterns;
stack all books with exactitude in one pile
to coincide perfectly with the right angle
of the desk's corner.
Whistle thru ten more hours of arcane insights:
drink a quart of ice-cold pepsi:
clean the ice-box:
pass out for ten solid hours
interesting dreams.


Finish papers, wax floors, lose weight, write songs, sing songs, have
conference, sculpt, wake up & think more clearly. Clear up asthma.
treat your obesity, avoid mild depression, decongest, cure your
treat your hyper-kinetic brain-damaged children. Open the Pandora's Box
of amphetamine abuse.


Stretch the emotional sine curve; follow euphoric peaks with descents
into troughs
that are unbearable wells of despair & depression. Become a ravaged
scarecrow. Cock your emaciated body in
twisted postures
scratch your torn & pock-marked skin,
keep talking, endlessly.


Jump off a roof on the lower East Side
Write a 453 page unintelligible book


Dismantle 12 radios
string beads interminably
empty your purse
sit curled in a chair
& draw intricate designs
in the corner of an envelope


'I felt it rush almost instantly into
my head like a short circuit. My body
began to pulsate, & grew tiny antennae
all quivering in anticipation. I began
to receive telepathic communication from
the people around me. I felt elated.'


get pissed off.
Feel your tongue begin to shred,
lips to crack, the inside of the mouth
become eaten out. Itch all over. See
your fingernails flake off, hair & teeth
fall out.
Buy a Rolls Royce
Become chief of the Mafia
Consider anti-matter.


Notice that tiny bugs are crawling all over your whole body
around, between and over your many new pimples.
Cut away pieces of bad flesh.
Discuss mother's promiscuity
Sense the presence of danger at the movies
get tough
turn queer


In the Winter, switch to heroin, so you won't catch pneumonia.
In the Spring, go back to speed.

Comments about Things To Do On Speed by Ted Berrigan

  • Rookie Kathryn Mahan (3/6/2014 3:32:00 PM)

    Yes. That's pretty much it Ted. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, February 9, 2012

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