Kenneth Patchen reading with the Charles Mingus Band. 

UNDER Construction


From Beneath the Underdog, His World as Composed by Mingus by Charles Mingus: "Not long before I worked with a poet named Patchen. He was wearing his scarlet jacket and sitting on a stool on a little stage in a theatre you walk upstairs to down on fourteenth street.

  We improvised behind him while he read his poems, which I read ahead of time 'It's dark out, Jack-' this was one of his poems-'It's dark out, Jack, the stations out there don't identify themselves, we're in it raw-blind like burned rats, it's running out all around us, the footprints of the beast, one nobody has any notion of. The white and vacant eyes of something above there, something that doesn't know we exist. I smell heartbreak up there, Jack, a heartbreak at the center of things, and in which we don't figure at all.' Patchen's a real artist, you'd dig him, doctor. 'I believe in truth' he said, 'I believe that every good thought I have, all men shall have. I believe that the perfect shape of everything has been prepared.'" [p.330] - Charles Mingus


Let Us Have Madness

Let us have madness openly.
0 men Of my generation.
Let us follow
The footsteps of this slaughtered age:
See it trail across Time's dim land
Into the closed house of eternity
With the noise that dying has,
With the face that dead things wear--
nor ever say
We wanted more; we looked to find
An open door, an utter deed of love,
Transforming day's evil darkness;
but We found extended hell and fog Upon the earth,
and within the head
A rotting bog of lean huge graves.


The Hangman's Great Hands

And all that is this day. . .
The boy with cap slung over what had been a face. ..

Somehow the cop will sleep tonight, will make love to his
Anger won't help. I was born angry. Angry that my father was being burnt alive in the mills; Angry that none of us knew anything but filth, and poverty. Angry because I was that very one somebody was supposed To be fighting for
Turn him over; take a good look at his face...
Somebody is going to see that face for a long time.
I wash his hands that in the brightness they will shine.
We have a parent called the earth.
To be these buds and trees; this tameless bird Within the ground; this season's act upon the fields of Man.
To be equal to the littlest thing alive,
While all the swarming stars move silent through The merest flower
. .. but the fog of guns.
The face with all the draining future left blank. . . Those smug saints, whether of church or Stalin, Can get off the back of my people, and stay off. Somebody is supposed to be fighting for somebody. . . And Lenin is terribly silent, terribly silent and dead. November 1937


 Patchen: Man of Anger and Light Cover"Patchen Man of Anger and Light" by Henry Miller and also Patchen's LETTER TO GOD.


  John and Scott with Miriam Patchen in front of her house. September 1995.









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