15 April 2009

April 15 - Poem A Day Challenge - Altered Poem

Today's prompt: "I want you to take the title of a poem you especially like (by another poet) and change it. Then, with this new altered title, I want you to write a poem. An example would be to take William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow" and change it to "The Red Volkswagon." Or take Frank O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter" and change it to "Why I Am Not a Penguin." You get the idea, right? (Note: Your altered poem does NOT have to follow the same style as the original poet, though you can try if you wish.)" Poetic Asides

Hmm, Robert Burns? Emily Dickinson? I already riffed on William Blake last week. I almost settled on Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck (Driving into a Wreck) but couldn't quite figure out how to warp it. (Of course I want the bigger challenge of following the same style.) I even debated doing Lawrence Ferlighetti's Baseball Canto. Couldn't make it work without the Cubs looking bad. Then my warped brain latched on to Allen Ginsberg's Howl - I love that poem for the sheer density of the language – and I had my epiphany of how to rewrite it. Let's just say Ginsberg and the zombie apocalypse aren't so far apart as you'd think.


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by starving, naked zombies, it was hysterical how they dragged themselves through suburban streets before dawn looking for a brain fix,

empty-headed corpses yearning for a tasty connection of white and gray wrapped in dura matter,

whose lipids and neurons and glial cells are but fodder in the supernatural darkness of the soul of rotting flesh floating across the top of open-sore craniums

who attack mindless in waves the haven and see other Romerian zombies staggering on shambling, putrid limbs,

who pass on recruiting at universities with discolored eyes not wanting to hallucinate Sartre and Camus from feasting on the flesh of philosophy majors,

who were reanimated from the academies for crazy - pushing obscene odes to the density of the skull,

who cower in infected rooms in long underwear, saving their medullas in wastebaskets and listening politely to the Terror through the wall,

who got decomposed in their tender graves returning through reanimation with a desire for middle-class flesh from New York,

who ate cerebellum like candy or drank cerebrospinal fluid in death, or purgatoried their tissues night after night

with bad hygiene, with infection, with waking nightmares, rotting teeth and rotten nails,

incomprehensible screaming of shuddering crowds at the light-in-the-mind staggering past cases of Bartles & James, illuminated by the motionless soldiers in riot gear

Payless shoes on detached feet, shuffle through cemetery dawns, wine-drunk survivors fleeing over the rooftops hiding behind storefronts joyriding with cricket bats ignoring neon blinking traffic lights, as they roar over walking corpses and smash the apocalyptical plague upside the head . . .

(. . . Original Poem- Howl by Allen Ginsberg)



Dawn Colclasure said...

I really enjoyed reading this. In some ways, I could see how it relates to a large part of the younger generation of today. Very interesting. I might do this, too.

Constance said...

You should definitely do it, Dawn. Lots of fun and makes you work, too. (I think I owe you some writing. I forgot. Mea Culpa.)