Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll Poems

1/
Genius is not a generous thing
In return it charges more interest than any amount of royalties can cover
And it resents fame
...

Jim Carroll Biography

James Dennis "Jim" Carroll (August 1, 1949 – September 11, 2009) was an American author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll. Carroll was born to a working-class family of Irish descent, and grew up on New York's Lower East Side, and when he was about eleven (in the sixth grade) his family moved north to Inwood in Upper Manhattan where he attended Good Shepherd School. He was taught by the LaSalle Christian Brothers, and his brother in the sixth grade noted that he could write and encouraged him to do so. In fall 1963, he entered public school, but was soon awarded a scholarship to the elite Trinity School. He attended Trinity from 1964-1968. Apart from being interested in writing, Carroll was an all-star basketball player throughout his grade school and high school career. He entered the "Biddy League" at age 13 and participated in the National High School All Star Game in 1966. During this time, Carroll was living a double life as a heroin addict who prostituted himself to afford his habit but he was also writing poems and attending poetry workshops at St. Mark's Poetry Project. He briefly attended Wagner College and Columbia University.)

The Best Poem Of Jim Carroll

8 Fragments For Kurt Cobain

1/
Genius is not a generous thing
In return it charges more interest than any amount of royalties can cover
And it resents fame
With bitter vengeance

Pills and powdres only placate it awhile
Then it puts you in a place where the planet's poles reverse
Where the currents of electricity shift

Your Body becomes a magnet and pulls to it despair and rotten teeth,
Cheese whiz and guns

Whose triggers are shaped tenderly into a false lust
In timeless illusion

2/
The guitar claws kept tightening, I guess on your heart stem.
The loops of feedback and distortion, threaded right thru
Lucifer's wisdom teeth, and never stopped their reverbrating
In your mind

And from the stage
All the faces out front seemed so hungry
With an unbearably wholesome misunderstanding

From where they sat, you seemed so far up there
High and live and diving

And instead you were swamp crawling
Down, deeper
Until you tasted the Earth's own blood
And chatted with the Buzzing-eyed insects that heroin breeds

3/
You should have talked more with the monkey
He's always willing to negotiate
I'm still paying him off...
The greater the money and fame
The slower the Pendulum of fortune swings

Your will could have sped it up...
But you left that in a plane
Because it wouldn't pass customs and immigration

4/
Here's synchronicity for you:

Your music's tape was inside my walkman
When my best friend from summer camp
Called with the news about you

I listened them...
It was all there!
Your music kept cutting deeper and deeper valleys of sound
Less and less light
Until you hit solid rock

The drill bit broke
and the valley became
A thin crevice, impassible in time,
As time itself stopped.

And the walls became cages of brilliant notes
Pressing in...
Pressure
That's how diamonds are made
And that's WHERE it sometimes all collapses
Down in on you

5/
Then I translated your muttered lyrics
And the phrases were curious:
Like "incognito libido"
And "Chalk Skin Bending"

The words kept getting smaller and smaller
Until
Separated from their music
Each letter spilled out into a cartridge
Which fit only in the barrel of a gun

6/
And you shoved the barrel in as far as possible
Because that's where the pain came from
That's where the demons were digging

The world outside was blank
Its every cause was just a continuation
Of another unsolved effect

7/
But Kurt...
Didn't the thought that you would never write another song
Another feverish line or riff
Make you think twice?
That's what I don't understand
Because it's kept me alive, above any wounds

8/
If only you hadn't swallowed yourself into a coma in Roma...
You could have gone to Florence
And looked into the eyes of Bellinni or Rafael's Portraits

Perhaps inside them
You could have found a threshold back to beauty's arms
Where it all began...

No matter that you felt betrayed by her

That is always the cost
As Frank said,
Of a young artist's remorseless passion

Which starts out as a kiss
And follows like a curse

Jim Carroll Comments

Ben Paje 16 December 2015

it is not a poem about being saved by genius, or anything.Jim is trying to question if all his options in life were used up.A junkie knows you can always negotiate another day.

4 0 Reply
M Frick 02 December 2004

concerning the Kurt Cobain works, kind of a stupid observation of Kurt. like he was really going to be saved by his genius. it was all twisted up in his head with everything that was hurting him. there was no separating it. he didn't ask for any of it, but he got all of it. the genius was just a fraction. you have to think of him as a more complete person, above and beyond just writing songs.

7 15 Reply

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