Lew Welch’s Din Poem

Welch saw poems on the page as a score for performance. The text (more or less as published) follows, but the recording really is this poem for me.

Din Poem

Tizuvthee, Old Soapy, land where Thoreau sat and Whitman
walked, despised of all nations, Strontium, alone

Tizuvthee

Fucked L.A. starlet of tiny dream untrue even to your
tiny dream intolerable up-tight dirty noise New
York, rusty muscle Chicago, hopeless Cleveland
Akron Visalia alcoholic San Francisco suicide

Tizuvthee, I sing

Super Anahist cough syrup tastes as good as the syrup they put
on ice cream.

Hi Man, what’s happening. See you people later.
Hi Man, what’s happening. See you people later.

Lowering the butterfat
to meet marketing requirements
actually increases the percentage of Calcium,
Potassium, Phosphorous,
and other food elements

You could make this marriage work if you’d only try!

I am in Personnel.

Anti-personnel bomb. Exceptional Children. Homogenized.
Over-kill. Hydrogenated. Apostolic Faith. Pentecostal.

He died for our sins.

Pentecostal holy-mission. United Brotherhood of the Sons
of Father Baptism Apostolic. Virgin Mother house of
Grace the holy ghost immersion. Sanctuary redemption.
Death. Devil finds work for idle excommunicate. Confess
thy total pentecostal immersion, my son.

I pledge allegiance.

You never say you love me anymore.

NEVER. NEVER PUT THE GOD-DAMN CAMERA IN THE
GLOVE COMPARTMENT. I TOLD YOU AND TOLD YOU TO
NEVER PUT THE GOD-DAMN CAMERA IN THE GLOVE
COMPARTMENT. SO WHAT DO YOU DO? YOU PUT THE
GOD-DAMN CAMERA IN THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT.
AND IT’S STOLEN! SEE?

Nigger.
Nigger town.

Nigger car. Nigger suit. Gypsy.

Nigger gypsy poet wop. Jew.

Spic.

Nigger gypsy poet wop beatnic. Spic wop. Wop wop.

Jew nigger beatnic poet wop spic commie. Beat commie.
Poet commie. Faggot wop. Nigger.

Nigger house. Nigger fence. Nigger poet beatnic wop.

Wop wop. Dope fiend.

Dope fiend nigger. Yellah nigger. Nigger lovin’ beatnic wop. Nigger.
Ashtray nigger. Billboard nigger. Nigger wall nigger
suit nigger shoes nigger.

Nigger nigger.

Sunset.

Flower.

Nigger flower

The Christmas message carries a great and wondrous hope.
This hope, advanced with courage and determination, is a
very present help to you and to your doctors and nurses.
As they assist you in your effort for full recovery to
health, you can count upon the continuing gratitude and
concern of your fellow Americans.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

If I told you once,
I told you a thousand times

All right fella!

Where’s your I.D.?

How long you lived at that address?

Get in the car.

“I don’t know what’s the matter honey, I’m not always this
way.”

“Oh baby, that’s all right, the sex thing is only a part of it.”

“Yeah but I want you so bad and the damned thing . . .”

“Ahh, don’t worry about it, please, the sex thing . . .”

“I’m perfectly all right and then I try to roll on top
and the god damn thing . . .”

“Shhh. Shhh. Don’t. I mean it, really, it’s all right.
Really baby. The sex thing’s only a little part of it and . . .”

Here kitty kitty. Here kitty kitty kitty. Where’s that
damn cat anyway. Kitty? Here kitty kitty. Here you
god damn kitty kitty . . .

Apostolic Faith Mission Love in Christ of God Salvation
gave his life for YOU in virgin house of love lady in
Christ BEHOLDEN and KNOW, Believe on his words better to
avoid the bait of sin than STRUGGLE on the hook, beholden,
hope. Nameless name IMMACULATE yearning for him
DAUGHTERS of sin beholden and NOT ASKED before his
THRONE!

You’ve been late four times this month.

Jiveassmuthafucka, Javassmuthafucka

Jive. Ass. Mother. Fucker.

Chickens can’t lay eggs unless there’s a rooster around
can they?

What’s that girl doing down the hall, anyway?

Where you workin’ fella? Get in the car.

Let’s get him fixed. They’re much nicer pets if you get ’em
fixed.

Do you still feel bad?

I am on top of the Empire State Building leaning on the
railing which I have carefully examined to see if it’s
strongly made. The sound of it comes all that way, up,
to me. A hum. Thousands of ventilators far away. Now
and then I hear an improbable clank. The air, even up
here, is warmed by it.

To the north a large green rectangle, Central Park, lies
flat, clean-edged, indented. A skin has been pulled off,
a bandage removed, and a small section of the Planet has
been allowed to grow.

I think, “They have chosen to do this in order to save
their lives.” And then I think, “It is not really a section
of the Planet, it is a perfect imitation of a section of the Planet
(remembering the zoo). It is how they think it might look.”
I am struck by their wisdom. Moved.

The elevator is not too crowded. We are all silent and
perfectly behaved, except a little girl who is whispering
something to her mother. Her mother holds her hand and
bends down to listen. The little girl giggles. Hunching
her shoulders and screwing up her face. She has told her
mother something outrageous.

In the lobby are people who are really doing it, not like us,
just looking around. They wear the current costume and read
the office directories beside the banks and banks of
elevators. I realize there are offices in the Empire State
Building! It is not just a tower to look from!

It all starts coming in, on the street. Each one is going
somewhere, thinking. Many are moving their lips, talking
to themselves. In 2 blocks I am walking as fast as they
are. We all agree to wait when the light turns red.

In the subway it is more intense. Something about being
under the ground? It is horrifying to let it all come in,
in the subway.

A small Jew with crazed eyes and a little bent old body is
carrying a shopping bag and is wearing two brown vests. He
has, for a walking stick, a length of curtain rod, solid brass.
He avoids a post and doesn’t look into the large trash-basket.
His lips are moving.

A gust of dirty air hits me as I rise out of it at the 7th Ave.
subway exit. I am relieved, perhaps because the buildings
are lower, the street wider, the intersection a jumble of
crazy angles?

The white walls of an apartment generously lent by a girl
I hardly know. She moved up to the Bronx, to her mother’s,
just to give us a place to stay. I lock the doors and think
how perfect an apartment it is.

The top of the brandy bottle is correctly designed. I don’t
have to fuss with a difficult plastic seal. All I have to do is
twist it off.

Outside, a ventilator randomly clanks …..

•

Years ago, somewhere inconceivably else, I could have been
given a strange assignment.

He was a short man, gray haired but mostly bald. He explained
the thing to me in a homey kind of office.

“I can fix you up to be, actually be, a Native of a World!”
he said. “You won’t be like them, you will be one of them.
Think the way they do, see as they see etc with exactly
their physical and mental equipment. You can see, of course,
what this means! It means your data, for the first time, will
be absolutely accurate. You will, in every sense, know
what it is to be one.”

I have forgotten all he said about the reports I’d have to make
on my return, but I can almost remember the taste of the
potion I got. Brassy, but not too bad.

And what is happening during moments like that on the Empire
State building is simply that the potion’s effect is flickering
out. There are moments of wakefulness, and it all starts coming
in.

You see it on the faces of the others. They are all more or
less drugged. Many are as straight or straighter than you
are, but are pretending not to be. As you are pretending
not to be.

It is then, while watching the ones who are actually doing
it (not like us, just looking around), that you realize there
are only people more or less drugged into this vast, insane,
assignment.

There are no natives!

I pledge allegiance to the Pentecostal Brotherhood of
the Faith in. I never felt worse. Do you still feel bad?
How long have you lived at that address? Get in the car.

I’ve never been so ashamed in my life.

You don’t know how much better I feel. It’s like having
some beautiful thing protecting you all the time. A soft
and lovely power that’s devoted only to good. Get in the
car.

“It’s called Conation and Affect.”

Exceptional Children. Anti-Personnel Bomb. Top Secret.

“What kind of books does he read?”

I told you a thousand times.

It is better not to marry but it is better to marry than to
burn. Water seeks its own level.

You’ve been late four times this month.

You could make this marriage work if you’d only try.

Adieu, adieu

Soleil cou coupe

Meadowlark

Dove

One Response to “Lew Welch’s Din Poem”

  1. bullock83 Says:

    Poet David Gitin, who co-founded Poets’ Theater at the Straight Theater in the Haight-Ashbury, told me Lew was reaiona Din Poem there when some black militants happened to walk in during the “Nigger Niggertown … ” section–& hearing that, started down the aisle towards the stage. But instead of something heavy happening, as David feared, the men stopped in their tracks, listened a little more, shrugged & left. They apparently got Lew’s intention, similar to (& partly inspired by) Lenny Bruce’s …

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