After Allen Ginsberg’s ‘First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels’
Hot black night thru melaleucas—
cars rest in moons of yellow,
fallen from poles that hiss and burr—
and stars blaze above in navy linen,
the tops of flame trees breathe
insects drifting in the warm breeze.
And parents in the drive, tend
barbecue and smoke (acacia, gum),
pretending happiness, but their eyes belie.
Their tired son in leather jacket sweats
the cool and itches in the dark, rubbing
tobacco and weed, furtive in corners
while other leather-jacketed boys smoke
dope under the front-yard citreodora,
and way too cool for school.
I cross the lawn and beer-can
litter to climb the steps. Two boys
in army shirts lean at the screen door,
half-hearted guards, smoked-out
listless and benign, like domestic cats.
Their girls, one in scarlet tights
and long dress, sweat in her hair,
is busy kissing an energetic boy,
who leans in to her on the lounge floor.
The boyfriend guard doesn’t notice;
instead, he looks across the lawn, stoned,
smiling a welcome like Buddha.
Others talk on couches,
but most move to the music—
twenty of them—to the vibration thru the floor.
They sway in the middle of the room
and bend like Vietnamese huts in wind.
I join them and lift my arms
to the new, sudden rush of sound
like war, the beat we came for—
pounding, shrill, the music charges,
electric, we rock and shift—like choppers
in a storm. A red-haired boy,
tight-jeaned, moves like Nureyev.
He smokes a roach, eyes shut.
I look at his crotch and want to marry.
Note: Bringing It All Back Home is the title of Bob Dylan’s first ‘electric’ (non-acoustic) rock album of 1965. One side was electric, the other, traditional acoustic.