Stick It to the Man (After ‘Howl’ by Allen Ginsberg and ‘Groan’ by Alex Levene)

I wrote this poem inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s 1950s poem ‘Howl’ and the poem ‘Groan’ by my poeting colleague Alex Levene.

I saw the greatest minds of my year group devoured by sadness — pure, naked, rancour; hauling themselves through the streets in the midsummer,

looking for something to do… through the social Middle Earths of Twitter and Insta, looking for a million likes and retweets,

lusting for a human connection to the societies of open-air realities and sunlight… blinkered by the stories of fucking Westeros.

Photo by Taylor Wright on Unsplash

Now begins my song of praise

bless me with your righteous gaze.

I pray you’ll concede that this world’s future

depends on the arts, creativity and poetry.

Poems weren’t always in my view

but what better way to talk to you

and read in front of all these faces

as poetry transcends colour, creed, sex and races.

I once wanted to be a police officer, a cricketer, you know?

Now I write poems, using rhythm,

rhyme, meter and onomatopoeia

and I’ll stand tall, like the walls

between poetry and spoken word.

They’re one and the same, haven’t you heard?

“Should I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

The war cry — the poet that slips into words

like Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet,

the Mad Titan who takes centre stage and flaunts it.

Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

And I write this poem for those who will listen,

who will take heed of my words and their composition,

people hate to hear rhythm and rhyme,

as words can allude, confuse and hypnotize.

Convey myths and magic, incantations

and summon, beasts. Tales of Merlin and Mordrid

the Druids, Arthur, Guinevere, their feasts and fights,

don’t let these poets on the open-mic tonight.

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

See, there are issues with poetry;

most switch off — it’s lyrical,

the pinnacle of most great songs is poetry,

the poet is more than writing,

it’s a mentality, it’s your mind-set,

life choices, your actions and your inner voices.

If prose is the bellow poetry is the murmur

in the corner people-watching

taking down each detail –

collecting everyone’s emotions and clout,

bottling it up and then raising it to a shout.

A howl, a growl, a snarl,

raging against the societal machine.

And I will never cease rhythm’s use,

it’s not might fault. Blame Roald Dahl,

Spike Milligan, and Dr Seuss… and

writing, reading, thinking, working hard

and chewing chewing chewing words

big blobs on the page like Violet Beauregard.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Poetry’s not just Shakespeare writing sonnets of love –

not just hope in the form of a holy white dove

but it’s a state of mind, a passion… it’s a want,

a hunger, a message, sometimes

a polemic attack against systems, governments

and institutions that manipulate and fashion.

For me, my creative writing degree was not a choice,

it was a chance for me to express myself and use my voice.

Every writer who has put pen to paper,

or finger to keyboard

was saving their sword for you to wield later.

I discuss race, class, politics and mental health,

children’s literature and the distribution of wealth,

and the mysteries of my family tree,

stories of slavery and immigration

as I know not how I came to be me.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas, or tried to,

like how Stalin banned poetry and the Nazis believed

poetry came from the land of the Jews.

The weapon that kills the fascists is not the gun or the sword,

it’s the lyrics, the ancients arts of playing with words on a chessboard

Protest and politics is where it begins

friends and experiences “poeticised” in the form of a hymn.

From reggae through to science,

The Isaacs (Newton and Gregory),

you can’t lock them up in a speech penitentiary.

John Agard, Benjamin Zephaniah, Sabrina Benaim

Margaret Atwood, AM Pressman, Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood,

writers who change our perspectives for common good.

Byron, Shelley, Kerouac, Kesey, Philip Larkin

Sylvia Plath, Blake, Grace Nichols, writing mages

it’s the artists’ job to rattle society’s cages.

Sassoon, W.H. Auden, Yeats and Wilfred Owen,

Lord Tennyson, the internet and Google search

David Olusoga, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Akala and Afua Hirsch.

Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Jill Scott

Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

talking about their experiences on the streets

as we learn of The Harlem Renaissance, the 50s and the Beat.

Shakespeare, Derek Walcott, Steve Smith,

Wordsworth, the Bobs (Dylan and Marley),

Naomi Shibab Nye and Thomas Hardy.

I implore you all to read as much as you can,

write your spoken words and stick it to The Man!

Writer | Muses: history, inequality, identity, arts et al| Race + Black History Educator | Poet: Tre the Poet on Medium | treventour.com | E: tre@treventour.com