Posted in beat poets, poetry, writers

The Beet Generation

beet 2 copy

The beet generation is mine
to last forever between the pages
of Ferlinghetti and Bukowski yet people argue he was not really a beet writer at all but a turnip, all raw and spicy and dicey.

There’s gold in that there soil sayeth the tiller and author.
Bat guano seals the deal, mined from metaphysical caves.
On the road alongside Burma- Shaves
folks in their expanded thinking transmitted knowledge
so deftly that the unsophisticated knew not
of the sound barrier broken open
spewing radioactive shards;
talking heads drown in the naiveté of their banter.

Nobody writes quite like my beets, though the garden path has changed
from restless American workers with dusty boots and Steinbeck,
they rejected faded doilies and time clocks stamped upon their aspirations.
Red figures shape-shift the days and decorate the evenings with Zuni chants after somebody’s rodeo husband turns up Hank Williams on the radio.
Hobos, ghosts and wanderers wear challenged faces.
The beet people moved mountains with only one thought,
anticipating how the blinded imposter
breeds division with his fat big-deviled toe.

Wovoka’s prophecy came in with our crop of beets,
shared with poems and beads, a chorus of hallelujah.
The Mayans foretold it too.
When the children of the Anglos start to grow their locks long,
when the fires blaze…
when the wind rages…
when the ground freezes…
Did you think the apocalypse is just a box office hit?

On the road seems so far away, yet Ellsberg and Ellison
are my root crops. The books rest in a musky bin, a special place on the shelf
next to potatoes and Plath, they ordain my shrine in the pantry of merit.
You say I got the dates wrong?
Oh well. Never mind.
That’s only linear time.

Cronkite would have a fit at blurred boundaries today.
I want you back, to hear you say good night once again.
I want it the way it was when the appliances were built to last.
But then again I don’t.
I won’t make it because of the frostiness
the wall of silence, thick and cold, dividing each side,
people didn’t talk much. The truth was hidden.
The road had a different story.

I always include beets in my diet
because vegetables are good for one’s health.
The poets and wanderers are spirits who survived internment camps
originating from fire breathing dragons,
still others disrupted split fences and designated water fountains
like Kerouac or Yardbird scribbling lines and riffing low in the
dressing rooms in latrines on back streets in neighborhoods, way back ‘o town.
Sometimes the creative impetus might go nodding out from the
tears and lingering notes of loved ones, his Indian maiden in anguish
over her family’s fate at being herded away like cattle and banished upon barren lands.
The same thing done to the Japanese.
Did you think our seedlings could not grow there?
I’m going out to Hollywood she said with her silky black crown
and so she fled as soon as she could.

Nobody born after Desert Storm
hatched into the world of technology and gaming
knows that hard wind of the highway before
the soft unframed breezes drift through windows
of summer dresses sewed long ago,
when men with a James Dean character
glanced hopefully at the women bending towards their feet, their carrots, the corn and watermelons,
shooing away their chickens scurrying about the yard and underneath a clothesline.
You must turn the channel to understand.

The men came home from yet another war and
re- entered a modern movie
coinciding with a new type of poet
and the blades of grass sprouted a different green,
the message still the same.

And how could you even guess
what it was all about back then.
It’s not your fault that beets are strange fruit,
That Billie or Baldwin or Wright had a native son,
conceived from a muse during a riff or a rhyme on a Saturday night.
The tipped hats and rakish glances are simply a kiss and a dance before its time.
The beet generation is mine.

Copyright 2014 by Susan E. Rowland