Rant, From a Cool Place


Diane DiPrima

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 88 in April, 1971, this poem appeared in Issue 100 in 1998 after being selected for publication in the retrospective volume Evergreen Review Reader 1967-1973.

We are in the middle of a bloody, heartrending revolution
Called America, called the Protestant reformation, called Western man,
Called individual consciousness, meaning I need a refrigerator and a car
And milk and meat for the kids so, I can discover that I don't need a car
Or a refrigerator, or meat, or even milk, just rice and a place with
------------no wind to sleep next to someone
Two someones keeping warm in the winter learning to weave
To pot and to putter, learning to steal honey from bees,
------------wearing the bedclothes by day, sleeping under
(or in) them at night; hording bits of glass, colored stones, and
------------stringing beads
How long before we come to that blessed definable state
Known as buddhahood, primitive man, people in a landscape
together like trees, the second childhood of man
I don't know if I will make it somehow nearer by saying all this
out loud, for christs sake, that Stevenson was killed, that Shastri
------------was killed
both having dined with Marietta Tree
the wife of a higher-up in the CIA
both out of their own countries mysteriously dead, as how many others
as Marilyn Monroe, wept over in so many tabloids
done in for sleeping with Jack Kennedy - this isn't a poem - full of
------------cold prosaic fact
thirteen done in the Oswald plot: Jack Ruby's cancer that disappeared
------------in autopsy
the last of a long line - and they're waiting to get Tim Leary
Bob Dylan
Allen Ginsberg
LeRoi Jones - as, who killed Malcolm X? They give themselves away
with TV programs on the Third Reich, and I wonder if I'll live to sit in
------------Peking or Hanoi
see TV programs on LBJ's Reich: our great SS analysed, our money exposed,
------------the plot to keep Africa
genocide in Southeast Asia now in progress Laos Vietnam Thailand Cambodia
------------O soft-spoken Sukamo
O great stone Buddhas with sad negroid lips torn down by us by the red
------------guard all one force
one leveling mad mechanism, grinding it down to earth and swamp to sea
------------to powder
till Mozart is something a few men can whistle
or play on a homemade flute and we bow to each other
telling old tales half remembered gathering shells
learning again "all beings are from the very beginning Buddhas"
or glowing and dying radiation and plague we come to that final great
------------love illumination