Resurrecting America: translating Allen Ginsberg’s America from 1956 into 2017
Someone said, “Make America Great Again.” I was thinking outside the box. Translation from a moment in time into our moment, an interesting take on the art of translation. When things get weird, the weird get weirder. It may be time to call in the Spirit Army, the Ghost Generals of the Culture War. Allen Ginsberg you are being called back into duty, seanced and romanced from the grave.
I offer America 2017. Take it or leave it, share it.
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America twenty seven dollars and two cents April 8th, 2017
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the war on humanity?
Go fuck yourself with your targeted missile strikes.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t tweet till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be heroic?
When will you take off your cape?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Deadheads?
America why are your stories full of tears?
America when will you send your Jazz to Syria?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go to the recreational weed store 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 technology is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Assange is in the Ecuadorian Embassy I don’t think he’ll ever leave
Are you being sinister or is this some form of Trolling?
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 watched YouTube for months, everyday they say it’s the end of the
America I feel sentimental about Occupy.
America I used to be an Anarchist when I was a kid
I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the cactus in the kitchen.
When I go to The Mission I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Chomsky.
My therapist thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t stand for the National Anthem.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Hector after he came back from Mexico.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Facebook?
I’m obsessed with Facebook.
I check it every chance I get.
The icon stares at me from the screen of my iPhone.
I check Facebook in the bathroom of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Politicians are serious. Movie stars 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 spliffs millions of genitals an invisible digital memoir that goes 1400 miles an hour and twenty-five-thousand Starbucks locations.
I say nothing of my prisons nor the millions of privileged who live in my cubicles under the light of five hundred fluorescent suns.
I have toppled the temples of Baghdad, Damascus is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President even though I am a Buddhist.
America how can I write a human manifesto in your silly mood?
I will continue like Steve Jobs my songs are as individual as his iPhones more so they’re all transgendered
America I will sell you my songs $25,000 apiece $1000 down on your old song
America free Leonard Peltier
America save Julien Assange
America Edward Snowden must not die
America I am Freddie Gray.
America when I was seventeen my best friends older brother took me to the Anarchist Book Fair they gave out hummus and homemade bread and the speeches were free everybody was heroic and sentimental about the yippies it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the counter-culture was in 1992 Ralph Nader was a grand old man a real fighter Abbey Road made me cry I once saw Jello Biafra plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t 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 smart phones out of our hands.
Her wants to grab Los Angeles. Her needs a Red MacBook. Her wants our tech companies in Siberia.
Him big bureaucracy running our television stations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Mexicans learn English. Him need poor white trash. Hah. Her make us all work for $15 dollars an hour. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking at Facebook.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to go to school or write code for start ups, I’m insubordinate and easily distracted anyway.
America I’m putting my gender fluid shoulder to the wheel.
Allen Ginsburg 1956
Mark Matos 2017