Beat Poems

When you see the photograph of me toasting life with a cold can of Tecate Mexican beer you know you came to the right place. Like a favorite bar where you can turn over a table without the owner calling the cops, my “Beat Poems” welcomes vagabonds, drifters and the unhinged.

This new website feature drives us down a rare road on my writing journey.

For the most part I don’t like poetry.

I don’t like most poets, either.

Smug, safe and non-controversial, they pose like soft pets congratulating themselves and patting each other on the backside of timid experience. Give me the call of the wild over domestic spa animals any day, even in my golden years.

The best poetry threatens to start a riot. The best poetry isn’t about walking through fog or frosty fallen snow on little pussycats’ feet. The best poetry twists the system and the mind. The best poetry turns over the table.

Few people know I started writing by writing poems. When I was 15 a high school English teacher, Mr. Maguire, loaned me his 1960 Grove Press copy of The New American Poetry. Just beginning to teach myself how to fight the Establishment, I plagued Mr. Maguire in and out of class. Many years later we spoke on the phone when he found himself fighting the educational system and it dawned on me we were on the same side. The late Mr. Maguire deserves credit and blame for helping awaken this Frankenstein word monster that walks among us.  

I still have that yellowed paperback poetry anthology on a sacred shelf in my office library. I wonder if it’s the same copy Mr. Maguire loaned me. If so, he never asked me to return the book. Passing the torch might be cliché but like most clichés holds the essence of truth. Beat poet ghosts run amok in the collection, showing deserving readers that rhyme and reason don’t have to go hand in hand.

Beat poetry lives. America even boasts its own “lifetime” Beat Poet Laureate. Kentucky Gonzo holy man Ron Whitehead once asked me if I wrote poetry, a puzzling question that left me feeling a little empty. Tempting and taunting, Whitehead stealthily recruited me the way a shaman poet must.

So I filled my tank and continue the ride, entering the molten center of a white-hot sunset where beat poets make rain, hurl lightning bolts at polite society and thunder our message through the ages.

Watch out for the Tecate can. Read my raw, unedited, free beer party poems. Learn the lessons of the sages as we drink in the mountains. Do not, though, I repeat, do not walk through fog or frosty fallen snow on little pussycats’ feet.

You might get lost and freeze to death.