Monday, September 9, 2013


Lips of the Angel

Hate the world
For the world is not love

Only life is loved
O only life is loved

Not the evil
Not the weak
Not the said thing
Not the saying of the Highest

Not the love of good at all
On the earth and off the earth

O only death is loved
Only death is the loved of every thing
On the earth and off the earth


The pathway. It needs O it needs
Light on it. As a face
We love.

I know the gray panther. He kills,
And it is fun O it is fun
In his heart. As a day
We die through.
Sullen. The deathman is sullen. O
He does not like
Little cars. Cars full of huge snowroses
And men wearing heaven
On their caps.

But joy.

O the joy of roads sweetens the earth
And the panther is a fool
And a fool is that deathman
Who brought us here. For joy
Shall touch every being. As the sun
These fields. O what is a tree and a brook
And a hill and a lamb and a brown sparrow?
What is a pathway?
O look at the beautiful cars O
Thy are full of strange creatures
Who do not have guns in their hands.

           This Poor Life; the Rain
          and the Shining Guide:
   the Nest of the Horse and the Scales
                    of Eternity
Make a Pattern but I've Got My Life Caught
          in a Road Going Nowhere

The empire is
Officially a goddamned bore.

Money's antennae
Feel over the asses of everybody.

As far as that goes a fire ten miles high
Wouldn't warm some of these toads.
They shake my hand and their gloves stink
With the sweat of my people.

They ride a blind horse in a race to hell.
But they sing pretty fat now.
Try tickling me under the chin!
"I just met the most amusing writer   . . ."
How perfectly snotty.

For the pittie o' 'em,
O for the pittie of their bloddy ways   . . .

As now I've said their death —
I'm sure they will know whose friend I am.

The Slums

That should be obvious.
Of course it won't.
Any fool knows that.
Even in the winter.
Consider for a moment.
Consider what!
They never have.
Why now?
Certainly it means nothing.
It's all a lie.
What else could it be?
That's right.
Any way you look at it.
A silk hat.
A fat belly.
A nice church to squat in.
My holy ass   . . .
What should they care about?
It's quaint.
Twelve kids on a fire escape   . . .
Flowers on the windowsill   . . .
You're damn right.
That the way it is.
That's just the way it is.

'The Animal I Wanted'

The animal I wanted

Couldn't get into the world   . . .

I can hear it crying

When I sit like this away from life.

The Prize

There are no losses.
There is only life.

Pear-smooth, cool face of a child   . . .
Black cow wading in a green pond   . . .
The crazy loft in an old building   . . .
Sea comin in, honey
O Lord sea comin in
You will find the Lion
O Lord you will find the lion
And war!  War?
What is lost now is the world in this time.
Any peace they make is a lie.
Butchers are not interested in freedom;
The higher their talk, the bloodier their aims.
'Why don't you lead me to that rock?'

But there can be no losses.
There is only life for all men!

To A Certain Section Of Our Population

It is ordered now

That you push your beliefs

Up out of the filth high enough

For the inchworm to get their measure.

'She Is the Prettiest of Creatures'

She is the prettiest of creatures
All like a queen she is

I have made a paper wheel
And I pin it to her dress

We lie together sometimes
And it is as nice as music
When you are half-asleep

And then we want to cry because
We are so clean and warm
And sometimes it is raining
And the little drops scuttle
Like the feet of angels on the roof

I have made this poem tonight
And I pin it in her hair

For she is the prettiest of creatures
O all like a strange queen she is

While the Panther Sleeps

It is not entirely wrong to think
That there are angels here.
The weather is right for them;
And the panther is asleep.

Walk into the beautiful.
Hold your hand out to it.
Put on good like a bird.
Does it amaze you?
Do you really hate God?
O the panther is asleep,
And the soul of man fondles a higher season.

For there are angels around us.
They wear little yellow hats,
And their eyes are made of water.
Give them your doings to hold.
Let them try on your tall.
Will they like to kiss you?
Will your love clothe their fire?
The panther of the world is asleep,
And the spirit hastens to its brightest home.

Not to Disturb This Gay Gathering

O I know a fabulous cowshed

Where a strange beast is kept

That gives milk the color of blood.

And the reason I tell you this

Is that its mate is loose in your world.

The Buffalo That Went To Live At the Waldorf Astoria

It makes so much noise when I walk
Down the stairs
And the elevator is too damn small altogether.
Maybe I can get them to put in a field
Where the dining room is   . . .
A lake would be nice where they have the lobby.
If I asked friends in the way things are now,
They'd laugh at me.
It seems odd that all the trees have been cut down
And there isn't a blade of grass anywhere
Except on the floor of the manager's own room.
My wife complains that the bathtub is so tiny
That there is hardly space for the water to fit,
And none at all for her when the water is in.
Surely the management must realize that to sit
In an empty tub is pretty cold comfort at best,
And the results on the score of personal cleanliness
Are not encouraging from our way of thinking.
It does seem to me that the less I say about the food
The better it will be for the mental climate
Of the maniacs who concot it:
Tomato sauce on rice pudding! Whipped cream
With devilled lobster! Great mother of the plains
Preserve us!
If my poor father could only taste their crepes suzettes,
I'm sure he'd demand to be taken off the nickel.
But the watering trough in the Grand Ball Room
Is at once aesthetically satisfying and eminently practical.

Now I Went Down To the Ringside
and Little Henry Armstrong Was There

They've got some pretty horses up in the long dark mountains.
Get him, boy!

They've got some nifty riders away yonder on that big sad road.
Get him, boy!

They've got some tall talk off in that damn fine garden.
Get him, boy!

When you can't use your left, then let the right go.
When your arms get tired, hit him with a wing.
When you can't see very good, smell where he is.

They've got some juicy steaks in that nice sweet by-and-by,
Get him, boy!

They've got a lot of poor black lads in that crummy old jailhouse.
Get him, boy!

O they've got a lot of clean bunks up in their big wide blue sky.
That's his number, boy!

'Enjoyment of Women'

Enjoyment of women
Makes good rooms for life to live in.
Sharp food and pleasant drink
Do town the spirit with clean inhabitants.
For the gloomy man, gloom;
For the kittenish of appetite, soft cozy pretties
To write poems about or to smack around;
People can get springheads in the winter,
And winterheads in the spring;
It all depends on what they have to live with;
But the people who don't like to be people,
Will get messed up in some way or other.


Kenneth Patchen, born in Niles, an Ohio steel-mill town, worked mainly on the East Coast until 1950, when he and his wife Miriam moved to San Francisco. Living in North Beach, he created his well-known “painted books” and began performing “poetry-jazz” in the city’s avant-garde clubs. A crippling back injury restricted his activities in the late 1950s; the Patchens moved to Palo Alto, where Patchen continued to write and paint until his death at age 61. He authored many many books millions read and loved; yes, millions. We ain't dead yet.

Kenneth Patchen roof-topped with some of his painted books

Cloth of the Tempest
Kenneth Patchen
Harper and Brothers, 1943