Back Alley Angels - Poem by Hannah Whittington
This is the epic of Omniscient Ladies,
Who, “Not knowing what to do. With their shopping bags, ”
Set fire to them, their Macy’s lingerie flaming inside.
The luminaries of Greenwich Village,
Trampled and blown out by the fame of men.
Here are women untangled, uncovered by letters,
Building bombs due to explode in the next decade.
Here are the precedents of females in slacks
Bleeding so shamelessly, their hearts hung on the clothesline
Muses, “good to eat a thousand years”
Riding shotgun, was Neal’s “nymph with waist-length dirty blonde hair.”
LuAnne was his conquest at Walgreen’s, half-assed spontaneity.
She was his snowstorm bride, all the trust in her sixteen years.
Sprawled naked and exposed in the bed between Ginsberg and Cassady,
A key accomplice in the crimes of being and
Neal left her in Frisco, on the corner of O’Farrel and Grant.
Floating in the fog of her breath, her quiet claim only Kerouac hears
“Neal will leave you in the cold anytime it’s in his interest.”
Neal’s interest is Carolyn, his trophy wifey, Kerouac’s “golden angel”,
“Functioning as female” she refilled their coffee cups, her men were her men
And she was Queen of the Scene, passed between passions.
A brave actress accepts her fate, and cannot cage the free.
And so, it was she, who bore the products of lovemaking and waited out
The waves of indecision, being won again and again, built up and Beat down
By men who were born to leave.
X miles from grace, is Joan, all her own.
A psychic, she would talk to you for hours about Proust, but only from the bathtub.
Benzedrine’s lover, Burrough’s, she raked lizards from the trees in the front yard
In Mexico City, she sent a letter to Bellevue, for Allen and his invisible worm it said
“Anyone who doesn’t blow his top once is no damn good.”
In Mexico City, she announced her days were numbered and took a swig of cheap tequila
“It’s time for the William Tell show”, starring the infamous gun blow to face.
She haunted the all the Beat dreams after, and Ginsberg woke up and wrote “Howl.”
Oh but the muses made off easy with another little piece of your heart.
Now baby, they never got the shocks at Bellevue, for wearing black
It was those that rejected a picket fence for ink, who got real nuts.
Male and female split, the women sent to corners by masochistic Gods
This is the plight of those who defied the line, who kept coming back.
“Diane di Prima, no problem.” She went to see Ezra Pound at the Funny Farm.
Wrote a poem in lieu of birthday candles, for the infant she sent down the drain.
Wouldn’t have the baby of some vagabond saint, even if it killed her.
She gave Free Love its wings, it’s a Charlie Parker world. Dig it.
Reserve the right to run around the Village with spirits destined to die someday
To have an orgy with all your like-minded friends, it’s like taking a bath.
She healed herself, gave her life to Zen, no problem.
Politics change, “it decomposes, no problem.”
Für Elise, so many problems. The darkest bright unknown.
She could not rid herself of shadows, or the weight of sadness.
The hunchback in her parents’ perfect little house on the hill of the American Dream.
Ginsberg would love her, but not enough, her soul was just his shadow.
He took men, she took women to compete, the two halves were never glued.
She typed welfare documents at night, spilled red wine on her stanzas of darkness.
She jumped through a closed high-rise window, out with a crack, instantaneous death.
They found a shoebox full of tragic poetry, Ginsberg wrote her parents, “Best wishes.”
Hettie Jones, oh Hettie Jones…IS SHE CRAZY? ! ? !
She married a colored man, didn’t she understand that acceptance is a drunk ideal?
Black and white mating and whatever comes between, is everything.
Hettie, walking down the street with her mulatto children, what is she thinking?
An overlooked example of every revolution, she was here first.
“I'm going to live what is generally regarded as a man's life”
No conditions, she will write the history of change for women.
“Love never held my hand, ” she’ll make sure it holds yours.
So do not ask me where the women were.
The best voices are often upstaged, in the theatre of recognition.
Their bodies were temples and shipwrecks.
They died on cement, forgotten in nursing homes, from despair.
The women were in institutions, right beside Sandburg.
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