Archives For March 2012

The Valedictorian

By twelfth grade, the town was a thriving spot for evangelical Christians

And not enough of us took offense to my high school’s valedictorian

Who refused to inspire us, or even affectionately namedrop any of us like the salutatorian did

Instead he simply told us how much he wished we would someday be as pious as he was

Leaving no room for growth or for passage

And while he could easily hand his beliefs to the heathens

He couldn’t make them pray in the way that he did

We turned away from his mythologies

And while his valedictions from sin failed

His valedictions from school were a gift from God.

Mad House Blues: Part 3

Eye’s darkened with eyeliner we lay together naked flesh pressing against disgusting flesh so beauteous and repelling buttocks flashing and we sat up discussing Dali as the Marlboro’s burned out and we lay again enwrapped in dreams sweet and lustful our teenage desires undiscovered by the world outside our room how we thought we’d never be found but like all good things it came to an end.

Hinduism: A Different Beat

from Beatdom Issue 10 (buy here)

by Geetanjali Joshi Mishra and Ravi Mishra


As a religion, Hinduism has been one of the most ancient and generational expressions. These expressions and beliefs are handed down from the past generation to the present. The Hindu religious thought is such that, on one hand it seeks to exclude life and its aspects in its entirety, and, on the other, its beauty is such that it radiates in the full expression of all forms of life…those that have been considered mainstream through the ages and those that have baffled the matrix of the mainstream.  Hinduism is naturalistic. A true Hindu does not believe in institutionalized religion; far from it, he/she inherits a doubt in all things institutional and becomes culturally inclined to observe society from a distance whenever he/she finds it imposing upon his spiritual and personal growth.

The Bhagvad Geeta or the Song of the Lord, the greatest-known book to guide conduct and human existence in Hinduism, expects one to play one’s role in the social and the worldly structure while keeping oneself at bay from expectations of societal and worldly gains. Then, there are the ‘Renunciates’ – those that feel that the world and society are obstacles in the way of realization of truth and that to realize truth one has to look beyond and out of the social structures. These men and women earn the distinction of being the ‘Sadhus’. They have held light to the Indian Civilisation from time immemorial. They are the wise. Once, they were also the erudite holders of the scales of moral and social justice in society, though they, themselves, were out of it.

It is a fairly well-documented fact that the Sadhus and Indian religions have cast an impression on the writers of the Beat Generation. Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky had travelled extensively across India in 1961-62 and stayed with some very prominent thinkers and writers of the period. One of them was the current president of India, Pratibha Patil (then a girl of nineteen), with whom Ginsberg stayed in Varanasi in 1962. Patil has been known later to have tried psychedelic drugs with the Indian Sadhus – Baba Neem Karoli, in particular. The Beats and the Sadhus meet in the context of Hinduism in many ways. They had very similar philosophies and aims, which in the context of Hinduism make them so akin to each other. They both seek advancement of their souls and spiritual elevation. They look for it beyond the frontiers of common humanity. The world beyond ours’ hosts the road to their ‘unworldly’ and asocial spiritual fulfillment.

In Wandering With Sadhus: Ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas, Sondra L. Hausner, writes that the Sadhus do not believe in following the constraints of space and time. They believe in being on the move – as staying in one place restricts their intellectual and spiritual growth. One almost wonders if On the Road could have been written had Kerouac not experienced these brilliant realisations which richen his plot? The knowledge that Hinduism advocates is the knowledge that Kerouac offers his readers in his defining work. It is also the same as what made the Sadhus so venerated and revered: the experience of what lies beyond the common boundaries of Humanity. Dissociation from fixities is not the only common feature among the holy men ofIndia and the Beats. In the context of Hinduism’s infinity, drug use and sex for salvation are other commonalities. Although the latter appears confined to some obscure and secret societies of Sadhus, the former remains readily seen among them.

Lord Shiva, the Supreme God in Hinduism, one of the forms of the Hindu trinity of Brahama, Vishnu and Shiva, is worshiped with the offerings of cannabis and other intoxicants. Considered to be the supreme consciousness who lies outside the human realm he is still found somewhere within each of us. It is He we seek to explore and His energy that we wish to obtain by meditation, prayers and other spiritual means. Having gained the enlightenment and full of benevolence for all, the Sadhu wishes to dispel spiritual strength in the world and guide mankind on the right course. Shiva, the manifestly terrible form of the supreme consciousness, has also been called the most merciful in the ancient Hindi scriptures. It is this secret that the Beats and Sadhus seek.  They care not how they appear and the impression that they make on others – as long as they gain the spiritual strength to hold light to a saddening, darkening world. The Beats and the Sadhus are alive in us, in each of us. We have only to explore them to be mature enough to make our lives more meaningful.

In what may be regarded as one of the biggest fares of humanity in the world, the ‘Kumbh’ in the holy town of Allahabad in India, thousands of Indian holy men descend from the Heavens to Earth, in the midst of mortals…to spend a month or thereabouts with them. They are very strange people, or so we think. Some of them exist in utter defiance of humanity, and we can only ask what it is that they hold to be true. Society, social strictures, codes, values, morals as we know them, do not hold with the Indian Sadhus. They epitomize the most truthful essence of one of the most ancient and theologically superior religions of the world.

The one aspect where Hinduism comes closest to the Beat philosophy is the element of queer sexuality prevalent in both. In the vastness of the great Hindu mythology, the queer elements seem to be interspersed through the many religious texts that Hindus follow to understand their philosophical and religious truths. Although the age-old Hindu literature appears, by and large, to be mute on same-sex love and physical attraction, slips in sexuality, erotic same-sex fascination, and intersex or third gender characters are not very infrequent in the religious narratives of the Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas and lore of the regions of the ancient land. In the words of Devaddata Pattanaik, a prominent speaker on mythology: queer manifestations of sexuality, though repressed socially, squeeze their way into the myths, legends and lore of the land.

To begin with, the compendium of Hindu mythology refers extensively to change of gender in the deities and their embodiment of different genders at different times. It also alludes to the combining forms of androgynous or hermaphroditic beings. The Gods participate too. They change sex or manifest themselves as Avatars of the opposite sex to facilitate sexual congress. Their influence on humans is such that the mortals also undergo sex-change through their actions, fructifying the curses or blessings, or as the natural reincarnates.

In addition, it may be said noted that Hindu mythology delves deep into incidents where sexual interactions serve a non-sexual, divine purpose; in some cases, these are same-sex interactions. Ambiguity in judgment of the Gods is revealed when the Gods sometimes condemn these inter-actions, but on the other hand, they occur with their blessing. These mythological interactions have been expressions both of male and female characteristics in the Gods as well as the mortals. Not bound by time and place – they may occur at the same or at different times. They might also become manifest with characteristics of both genders at once, such as ‘Ardhanarishvara’, the revered and widely worshipped figure created by the merging of Lord Shiva and his consort ‘Parvati’. The name Ardhanarishvara means ‘The Lord whose half is a woman’ which, in itself, creates sexual ambiguity. It is said that this form of Shiva represents the ‘totality that lies beyond duality’, and is studied in reference with the communication between mortals and gods and between men and women.

One of the most celebrated and written about examples of same-sex love and transgression of gender exists in the pages of the Bhagavata Purana. There, Lord Vishnu as an enchantress, ‘Mohini’ (a form he took in order to befuddle the demons into abandoning ‘amrita’, the elixir of life), charms Shiva, who is so drawn towards her that they have a relationship followed by the birth of a son. The Brahmanda Purana talks of Shiva’s wife Parvati, who ‘hangs her head in shame’ as she sees her husband’s pursuit of Mohini. Some of the stories also mention Shiva asking Vishnu to appear in the Mohini form again so that he can witness the actual transformation for himself.

Stories in which Shiva knows of Mohini’s true nature have been interpreted to ‘suggest the fluidity of gender in sexual attraction.’ Philosophers  interpret the narrative more profoundly. Pattanaik declares that efforts to focus only on homoeroticism ignore the narrative’s profounder metaphysical significance – Mohini’s femininity stands for the material aspect of reality, and her seduction is another attempt of Vishnu to induce Shiva into taking an interest in worldly matters. Scholars point to other stories to show that it is only Vishnu’s charm that has the power to enchant Shiva. A demon tries to kill Shiva by taking the form of a woman (placing sharp teeth in ‘his’ vagina). Shiva recognizes the impostor and kills the demon by the placing a ‘thunderbolt’ on his ‘manhood’ during their act of lovemaking.

The later Puranas talk of the origin of God ‘Ayyappa’ . Vishnu, as Mohini, is said to have conceived with the might of Shiva, and borne Ayyappa, whom he/she later abandons in shame. Some scholars dispute this version, arguing that Ayyappa sprang from Shiva’s semen, which was ejaculated upon Shiva’s embrace of Mohini. There are many versions of the Mahabharata wherein Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, also took the form of Mohini and married ‘Aravan’. This was done to let Aravan be given the chance to experience love before his death, as he had volunteered to be sacrificed prior to the Kurukshetra War to ensure the Pandavas victory. Krishna remained in mourning in the Mohini form for some time after Aravan’s death.

It is more among the humans, particularly in the context of the narrative of the Mahabharata, that sexual changes and slips manifest themselves. One such character becomes ‘Shikhandi’, originally born as a girl named ‘Shikhandini’ to ‘Drupada’, the king of ‘Panchala’. The stories tell us that in her previous lifetime, Shikandini was a woman named ‘Amba’, whom the great and mighty ‘Bhishma’ had rendered unmarriageable. Having been humiliated, Amba moved in search of revenge, undertook great austerities, and the Gods granted her wish to be the cause of Bhishma’s death.

Another such story that talks about queer sexuality is the tale of ‘Ila’, a king cursed by Shiva and Parvati to be a man one month and a woman the next, which appears in several traditional Hindu texts. After changing sex, Ila loses the memory of being the other gender. During one such period, Ila marries ‘Budha’ (the God of the planet Mercury). Although Budha knows of Ila’s alternating gender, he doesn’t enlighten the ‘male’ Ila, who remains unaware of his life as a woman. The two live together as man and wife only when Ila is female. In the Ramayana version, Ila bears Budha a son, although in the Mahabharata Ila is called both mother and father of the child. After this birth, the curse is lifted and Ila is totally changed into a man who goes on to father several children with his wife.

It may thus be seen that the Indian mythological world is replete with transgressions of sexuality to prove to man that sexuality is not constructed traditionally and historically – that same-sex love may be a yearning towards a greater fulfillment. In what may be regarded as the oldest surviving documents of man’s intellectual growth and religious stability, sex and its transgressions have only been the means to obtain the higher plane of human conscience, a life where even Gods desires change of form to demonstrate Nature’s instinct and unleashed, hidden desires.  Although the Beats and their thoughts did not spring directly from Hinduism, it is no less remarkable a coincidence that the two are so similar to each other. The Beats may be said to be the greater Hindu, a people who sought not institutions but individuals and looked for growth – not of restrictive notions but the advancement of the human soul.


Ravaged by dreams
that seep into sleep
or sometimes my thinking, creating
uncomfortable scenarios,
horrible nightmares…
rarely ravished,
rarely loved.

Tempest-tossed on the waves of REM
that pound and reverberate up-and-down
to the rhythm of my throbbing temples.
Then I awaken, lips chapped, throat parched,
seeking Dream Catchers,




Discectomy of rabid mentality
.Vanquished by dreams.

But sometimes when the body
Chooses not to relieve itself on my mind in the night,
then sleep comes,


with pleasant dreams.

Or, more often, resting blindness.

Singles Awareness Day

I’m sprinting about Cal Poly’s campus

Hymning Mr. Tambourine Man

To the tune of another song of Bob Dylan


I’m making the funniest first impressions

Disturbing the Poly dollies but not the peace

They’re too freaked out to kiss their boyfriends


It’s not a sin to be happy & single today

It’s just what the Man wants

But now’s not the time for paranoia


“Won’t you be my Valentine?”

What does that phrase mean anymore?

Something materialistic, I reckon


I decide my ears need a toke

So I let them puff on my iPod earphones

Both of them get high on “Penny Lane”


You can tell your friend in the Bay Area

That Ben Simon is loving life

On the day when merry men suddenly slouch.



Announcing the Acquisition of Beat Poetry by Larry Beckett

Beatdom Books is delighted to announce the acquisition of Beat Poetry by Larry Beckett, due to be published in the summer of 2012.

It is the only book to date centering on the poetry of the Beat Generation. Sure, there are anthologies, sociologies, encyclopedias, collections of photographs and interviews, and studies on the individual Beats. But this is an entirely different beast. Beat Poetry is the missing link.

Beat Poetry takes the poems of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, John Wieners, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, David Meltzer, and Bob Kaufman, and examines each in detail, casting new light on an important period in literary and cultural history.

In each case, close reading is accompanied by quotations from essential precursors in mainstream poetry. For example, Ginsberg’s “Howl” Part I, is shown to have been in part inspired by Old Testament prophets, Whitman’s catalogs, Crane’s “The Bridge”, Williams’ “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”, Rexroth’s “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, and Kerouac’s improvised prose. These clear parallels show the Beat poets to be more literary than their street reputation suggests.
Beat Poetry, which can serve as a textbook, includes a timeline which indicates exactly when and where the texts were composed, and an extensive bibliography, including available compact disks, important to a movement launched at a reading and centering on orality. The book’s ideas converge on defining beat in Kerouac’s terms: “beat, meaning down and out but full of intense conviction.”


Previous Beatdom Books publications include Spencer Kansa’s Zoning and David S. Wills’ The Dog Farm. Coming this year are Michael Hendrick’s Egypt Cemetery and Beatdom: The Interviews.

Orange Orphanage

Oz the Great & Terrible sleeps soundly in the drainpipes

Snoring through every new toothache

Each illicit subscription to bare-knuckle torture tactics

Every ribald pang of self-regression

Secure in time’s frigid chickenbone deathgrip

As he ransacks idealism’s rank poorhouse

& remakes its bordellos to suit the finest of tastes

Having been given the blessing to act as pimp of his insecurities

& left to rot with any memory he may have



or asked for

Rabbit on the Run

Each of Jennifer’s orifices is a dimension to another galaxy

But when I’m not in the mood for surrealist space travel

I gaze into retinas which leap out to greet me in a juicy embrace

Two pug puppies of tissue, tearing me together

But during her departure, Ray and Nate simultaneously sought a slice of life

And they perverted her eyes into fleeting rabbits in the fetal position

Rabbit brains being penetrated with two horns of rabid bulldogs

Prey to their demands, I see Jennifer transformed into a reluctant jackalope

Firmly two-legged in the direction of New York City

I am on the other outskirt of the empire, but dog voodoo does not elude me

Someday I will arrive on Coney Island with nothing but a frankfurter in my hand

And two James Polk gold dollars in each one of my khaki pants’ pockets

These three necessities will become a ring which will lead Jennifer from harm

And lure her into a dimension that brings harmony to her poodle song.

Mad House Blues: Part 2

Fear no one as the sun falls from its perch with

terrified glances at the shelled out town directly below

carnage that began with a rebirthing of Kristallnacht the

Jews ran with reborn terror while us Ginsberg, Solomon and I

were safe hidden in our room from the supposed free and

safe America lies based upon layers upon layers upon layers

of destructive racism.


We looked out at the now dark sky dotted with tiny aeroplane

lights like a signal for our freedom in the free country

smashing the window we climbed down like mutilated falling angels

black against the blue hospital filled with grey minds

unfocused and cannibalistic eating each other

we escape into the true free America full of rapists

and artist’s moaning about their suicidal day-dreams.


We clung like retarded monkeys to the sills

avoiding the shadows lurking above and below

of mutant dogs and murderous whores who are out

to feed on unsuspecting flesh like us innocent

poets who just seek something ungraspable something

dying a metaphor created and forgotten and used

for something else.


As we skulked through the twilight streets arsonists

joined us and three became more and more the beatnik’s

stealthily raped us saintly motorcyclists without our rides

and hell opened beneath our feet a cliché as Metiphovles

joined us with Heinrich and Gretchen and all those Hitler

look-alikes five hundred years early.


We simple Jews sat and talked and the flames brought

more poets to our midst and we sang songs our tongues

in cheek with Plath and Pound

with Kerouac and Eliot,

Carr, Corso and Cassady.


So when dawn awake and spread it’s rosy

fingers we were a troupe of travelling

writers and artists dancing down

on the road from the town and into

the city.

Stitches On Acid

It was summer when we were shot out of a cannon.
your eyes were nuggets of gold in the backseat.
I held a strawberry cigarette.
smoke covered our bodies like a blanket as the engine breathed fire into the sky.
dots like on a television screen rained down on us.
It was the end of the modern world.