a journal of modern society & culture

Home of the Blues


I’d like to be like Whitman & not let anger
     resentment despair my eye from Beauty
          born of itself
     burning with light
          streaming from my pen
Odes not only to Love
     but Love made of Love
Permeated with & emanating total pure Love
The descriptive rolling road blistering jewels
     reflecting oceans of understanding
          faces, subtle & exquisite

Lambent and prism splashed
Purer than gold
Purer than the waters of Baptism
     as pure as dirt
     as fire
     as willing sweat
Pure as the water from the skies
     emptying through your eyes

Ah, can’t escape the shameful disastrous hypocrisy
     of religions, governments, political movements
Knowing great ideas don’t fail, people do
Do I need a God to overcome
     we are imperfect
That our ideas are better than us?
After all this religious fervor of millennia
     is this world less murderous
     more just, less dangerous?

I would put this knowledge to bed
What good has it done me? Or anyone else?
I’d rather be into art for its own sake
A believer in the positivity of Random Creation
     whirling in a dervish of Illusion
I’d rather be Alfred E. Neumann
A what me worry it’s all good, charmer
I’d rather be a six pack a night, bills paid
Rather be University literary magazine credentialed
     perfect smoking my pipe, impressing youth
     with arcane knowing, go on vacation
           to islands in the sun
I’d rather be someone who covertly alludes to problems
     in coded and coddled language, than to call it
     from the bottom, the solar plexus of defiance
But I can’t, don’t ask why, I’ve not only got a right
     to sing these blues, but I’ve an obligation

Oscillating in a maelstrom of unpredictable winds
     unborn of the sun
So from that solar plexus of defiance
     the uncontrollable plaint, blues of a darker color
I’ve got a right to spit them out unchewed

I woke up this morning hardly knew which way to turn
It was dark it was cold I was not frozen
It must be what I’ve chosen
Got to earn, the times are not generous
     maybe some people will be
If believing would help if I believed it would help me
     I’d believe
God I don’t believe you’re listening, pretty sure you
     don’t exist, but if you are listening
I could use a little help
I am no longer a man, I’m no longer Whitmanic
I’m a contradiction from Hell just like America
A Deist calling on God? I got the Blues
All the beneficial bounty, all the music
     & all the deception & cruel crimes
Backed by guns of money & pain
     & worse
America the Contradiction
America Home of the Blues


Andy Clausen is the author of fifteen books of poetry, including his latest, Home of the Blues: More Selected Poems, where this title poem originally appeared. Previous titles have included: 40th Century Man, Festival of Squares, Without Doubt, and The Iron Curtain of Love. Along with Eliot Katz, Clausen was a coeditor of Poems for the Nation, a volume of political poems compiled by the late poet, Allen Ginsberg. Clausen is a construction worker and teaches poetry in New York public schools.