Sunday, October 27, 2013

For Lou Reed

Lou Reed died today (October 27, 2013). His art — his music and writing — has meant a great deal to me and influenced me as a person and a poet in innumerable ways. He was possibly the greatest songwriter of our time, at least in a certain vein, and his influence cannot even be fully measured yet — it goes on.

Below I give a section of my poem “Homage to Allen Kirkpatrick” (published in last year’s Future Blues) which responds to the work of underground New York filmmaker Kirkpatrick. The latter’s Adrenalin Devours the Blood includes footage of Lou from the 1974 or ’75 era, and so references to these make their way into the poem.

It’s all I can offer at present.



Adrenalin Devours the Blood:
the filmmaker holds up (again) the mirror to himself
reads yesterday’s paper
and the news may not be good
(a drinking contest left two friends dead),
            Manhattan approached
            with dread along the surface of the river

Kill Yr Sons/
Lou Reed iconic footage his poetry, gestures,
jerking motions like the the sound is dis-juncted,
a hand-held camera observes
gay pride parade black balloon leather boys
cops guns and the American flag,
boxing bout KO in the ring
and sleeping bums head on curb
under the belly of New York
secret filming of junkyards

O sadness of
first-thing-in-the-morning bars
old men’s whiskey and water shot glasses
dolorous light through translucent curtains,
bathroom urinals—

silhouetted against the color cathode test signal
the filmmaker examines strips of his film,
x-rays of the salacious/
            the blind beggar solicits change

the black hooker beautiful mounds of flesh
to strains of “Angel Baby” breasts hang
projected in shadow then lumined and brown
“it’s just like heaven, being here with you”
Allen visible in the hotel room mirror
just as I am visible in the writing of the poem
combs her hair in the mirror angel baby
as he films holding camera 16mm,
yes let us see the mechanics,
“ooh-hoo I love you” coarse black pubic hair

graffiti subway train cars
running up the screen 3-D style
have got up too in spray-paint

the transsexual classic American
70s housewife style heavy eye makeup & hair

(Allen again visible in the mirror,
a heavy hand)
street scene pimps, wigs in shop windows
XXX cinema Playmate Studio 25¢ booths
O sweet Lou in double exposure
light glints on guitar like flickering neon
gay parade glamour queen floats of America,

and the universe


Here is Reed’s “Kill Your Sons,” referenced in the poem:

 And here is another of Reed’s greatest works:


George D. Allen said...

Were you acquainted with Allen Kirkpatrick? I met him back in my college days; he helped me out one day on one of my student projects and I got to see some of his films (including "Adrenalin..." and "Orange Jesuit") while he was living in Bellefonte. After I left school and lost touch, I always wondered what became of Allen and his films.

Mike Begnal said...

George D. Allen-- Yes, I am (still) acquainted with Allen Kirkpatrick. If you knew him at the time you mentioned then you probably remember that he had converted his main films to video in the 90s. The films themselves (celluloid) are extant. I have a dvd (from the video) of a couple of them. I'd like to get these on youtube or something at some point. He is presently living in the town of Lilly, PA.