(3 June 1926 – 5 April 1997 / Newark, New Jersey)

A Supermarket In California

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles
full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! --- and you,
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and
followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does
your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to
shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and
stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

User Rating: 3,7 / 5 ( 125 votes ) 20

Other poems of GINSBERG (47)

Comments (20)

Still one of my favorite poems whenever I go 'shopping for images'-which is often. Ginsberg and Whitman were alike in some ways.
I like Whitman too. He was the first great American poet and opened the door for all poets, good and bad alike. I’ll have to read more Ginsberg to make a better comment. He looks a little like Gerald Stern. He was a great American poet.
What an extraordinary piece of free verse this is, except possibly for the stylized ending. The phrase 'shopping for images' lingers.
It seems like shopping for food extended the conversation into different vocabularies. That makes sense, because food goes a long way for us.
Outstanding work in depicting the life style and bury of strength. Great
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