After Howl III — Rockin’ the Ages

by Gary Blankenship
Wild Poetry Forum
First Place, August 2007
Judged by Deborah Bogen

who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels
–Allen Ginsberg, Howl

east of boise they find a cultist who prepared kool-aid for a jim jones
when sister Sylvia saw the Virgin Mary in the pond behind the hen house no one paid any attention to her
south of soshone they locate a survivalist who sells cranberries in a fruit stand on
highway 93
when mama saw Mother Mary in grandpa’s fried egg, they turned the kitchen into a shrine
ketchum is all weed dealers who tithe to a clapboard church in mountain home
Uncle John is still in the attic
they leave orofino where every man woman child stray goat is his her its own prophet
Christ walked across Lake Coeur d’Alene the day of the parade in honor of President Reagan and no one noticed
in the lewiston they come across the holy slots sacred decks hallowed bones mammon’s
offering to the state
the picture of the Garden behind Grandma’s bed only cost her $125 in 1973
in soda springs they hit upon a two dollar gal who nightly prays to baby jesus at least
twice an hour in an alley behind the suds and pack
when the tent revival came to town everyone was there, two members of the cheer squad
were visiting relatives the next fall

the idaho falls temple is being repainted in a new shade of temple white
I dream my guardian angel is on strike
the buddhist gate is locked
on cable Italian suits beg
moloch sings when the roll is called up yonder

To invoke the ghost of Ginsberg is to invite a perilous comparison, but this poem manages that difficulty by giving us a series of wild but believable observations that carry the poem's commentary with a cool energy, and make an off-kilter but undeniable kind of sense. The pictures painted here are intense, and build so dramatically upon each other, that even a phrase as short as "Uncle John is still in the attic" becomes a mental vignette, a miniature morality play that the poem asks us to write for ourselves. Thus the poet is both author and instigator -- very Ginsbergesque. --Deborah Bogen