Ode to Failure – Allen Ginsberg

Many prophets have failed, their voices silent
ghost-shouts in basements nobody heard dusty laughter in family attics
nor glanced them on park benches weeping with relief under empty sky
Walt Whitman viva’d local losers——courage to Fat Ladies in the Freak Show!
nervous prisoners whose mustached lips dripped sweat on chow lines——
Mayakovsky cried, Then die! my verse, die like the workers’ rank & file fusilladed in Petersburg!
Prospero burned his Power books & plummeted his magic wand to the bottom of dragon seas
Alexander the Great failed to find more worlds to conquer!
O Failure I chant your terrifying name, accept me your 54 years old Prophet
epicking Eternal Flop! I join your Pantheon of mortal bards, & hasten this ode with high blood pressure
rushing to the top of my skull as I if I wouldn’t last another minute, like the Dying Gaul! to You, Lord of blind Monet, deaf Beethoven, armless Venus de Milo, headless Winged Victory!
I failed to sleep with every bearded rosy-cheeked boy I jacked off over
My tirades destroyed no Intellectual Unions of KGB & CIA in turtlenecks & underpants, their woolen suits and tweeds
I never dissolved Plutonium or dismantled the nuclear Bomb before my skull lost hair
I have not yet stopped the Armies of entire Mankind in their march toward World War III
I never got to Heaven, Nirvana, X, Whatchamacallit, I never left Earth,
I never learned to die.

Allen Ginsberg

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