The School Bag

A Supermarket in California

Alan Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked 
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious 
looking at the full moon.
    In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the 
neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
    What peaches and what penumbras!  Whole families shopping at 
night!  Aisles full of husbands!  Wives in the avocados, babies in the 
tomatoes!—and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the 

    I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking 
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
    I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?  
What price bananas?  Are you my Angel?
    I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, 
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
    We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy 
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing 
the cashier.

    Where are we going, Walt Whitman?  The doors close in an hour.  
Which way does your beard point tonight?
    (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket 
and feel absurd.)
    Will we walk all night through solitary streets?  The trees add shade 
to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
    Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue 
automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
    Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what 
America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got 
out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the 
black waters of Lethe?   


spoken = Arion Alston