America and Brandeis

by Mark Chmiel

One of Allen Ginsberg’s more famous poems is his “America.” Yesterday, I came across a contemporary revision of it (to some degree) by a woman who goes by Victoria the Obscure.

I post both below….

America
Allen Ginsberg
1956

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they’re all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don’re really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

 

 

Brandeis
Victoria the Obscure
2009

Brandeis I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
Brandeis two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 2009.
I can’t stand my own mind.
Brandeis when will we end the recession?
Go fuck yourself with your budget crisis
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
Brandeis when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million students?
Brandeis why are your libraries full of tears?
Brandeis when will you stop wasting money on local eggs?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into financial services and pay my tuition with my good looks?
Brandeis after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your poverty is too much for me.
You made me want to be a scholar.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Carl J Shapiro is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
Brandeis stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
Brandeis the apple blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
fraud.
Brandeis I feel sentimental about the activists.
Brandeis I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Dartmouth Road I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t sing our alma mater.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
Brandeis I still haven’t told you what you did to my dreams after the faculty meeting.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our educational life be run by Wall Street Journal?
I’m obsessed by Wall St Journal.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the c-store.
I read it in the basement of the Goldbfarb Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am Brandeis.
I am talking to myself again.
The Administration is rising against me.
I haven’t got a poor students’s chance.
I’d better consider my financial resources.
My financial resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my dorms nor the millions of students who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the merit aid of scholars, majors is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m considerate.
Brandeis how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Glen or Glenda my bathrooms are as individual as his
bathrooms more so they’re all different sexes
Brandeis I will sell you funds $2500 apiece $500 down for your old curriculum
Brandeis free the Arts program
Brandeis save the undergraduate curriculum
Brandeis academic excellence must not die
Brandeis I am the laid off faculty
Brandeis when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1935 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
Brandeis you don’re really want to go to change your academic philosophy.
Brandeis it’s them bad financiers.
Them finaicers them financiers and them alumani. And them financiers.
Jehuda Reinharz wants to eat us students alive. He’s power mad. He wants to take
our scholarships from out our pockets.
He wants to shut down Rose Art. He needs a new admissions building. He wants more money from abroad students. Him big bureaucracy running our education.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Jews lose money. Him need part-time workers.
Hah. He make us all work sixteen hours a day (for a useless interdisciplinary major). Help.
Brandeis this is quite serious.
Brandeis this is the impression I get from reading the internet.
Brandeis is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to stay at your school, waste money for a poor degree
I’m too intelligent and focused anyway.
Brandeis I’m putting my pretentious shoulder to the wheel.

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