Peter Orlovsky

Peter Orlovsky,  Allen Ginsberg’s long-time companion, died, seven years ago, on this day.  Those who knew him will certainly never forget him. His remarkable and inspired book of poems, Clean Asshole Poems and Smiling Vegetable Songs, idiosyncratic spellings and all, is quite like any other book of poems. His papers (now residing at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin) yielded the posthumous companion-piece Peter Orlovsky – A Life In Words.  There is also the sadly-out-of-print 1980 volume, Straight Hearts’ Delight. We’ve quoted from it before. Here’s another letter from Peter to Allen

Peter, on board ship returning to New York, Allen in Paris, Jan 22 1958

Dear Allen,

On the ship, close to home, at night, full tuky stomache sadness on my face but finally read through the brothers K(aramazov) & see the same madness in my family.Have been very quite, sick half the time from the bellybutton waves but eating marvelously & to boot havent smoked much at all & to boot have this nice typewritter to type to yo & by odd chance Lary is on the same boat with me and so are many orangers that I have eaten but cant seem to find any milk. I know I goofed with Bill (Burroughs) being so silent as if crying in side my thought, yes I guess I am meek, like you say. But at the end of eternity theres nothing to be imbarresed about. I still feel delighted Bill kissed me & I remember Joyces smile and Bill talking to me when you were out of the room. I was crying when on the train and am now cause it was like living in a mansion in a bunch of grapes on a vine with the sunset around each window. Love Bill, like I love you, be a chair for him to sit on and for him to talk proudly from – Bill seems more like a brother now  then a farther with stern eyes in Tangers. Bill got roses in his teeth. I took a one hour shower yesterday & used to much water that the hall was soken wet twenty people nocked on my door in fright but I kept singing along till cleaned and wash all dirty clothes. Have had two wet dreams so far, did not mastetbate once & feel good about that for I must stop that habit for its insulting to my cock. I lay in bed at night then hear crakes at the door and one night lissoning intently & thinking about Jack (Kerouac), the phrase – Jack is a crack in the wall – came into my mind & I laughed to myself a few penies. No storms to tell you about at sea, the ship rocks the most at night & thats when I get sick and my tommy feels like a barrel making icecream and get chills all over. I  never thought I would ever be scared looking at the sea from the side of the ship but now I am, tho it was just one time a few days ago in afternoon when looking over the rail and the waves so close & I don’t remember what was going thro my mind now but all of a sudden & began to think about how Heart Crain might of  felt when he was about to jump he must have been very lonely painfully lonely & that pain from lonelyness was cutting his chest up before he jumped, for a moment I thought I was going to have a hullusination of his body floting in the water & then I through myself back and ran into door shrivering & then a picture of Cranes face with bumps on it ran through my mind, This ship is very big & all togeather different then the ship we took over sea, the food is duble, white tubs for everyone, animal hospitals for dogs, gimnasium’s for fat men and women, tea in afternoon with cake, childern playgrounds & all these people so clean it scares me. Did you know Alyoucha  [Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov]  has a vision of Christ but is afraid to look at him. I had a dream of Frankinstine  & you & Bill were standing on a corner, I was twenty feet from you two, you both had a look of death at me, I yelled with my eyes scremming out of my so cites (joints) reciting Myockoffickys poem “then die my verse like my ranke and file of my army” [from “At The Top of My Voice” (sic)]  & kept it up to a fanatic  point whare I felt so much tension on my face that I might of died at that momentif I had keept yelling at you both. Frankinstine diden’t scare me he was running after some young girl. And then somewhere along the line, Perfume like a log floting in the sea – I felt sad & lonely when I saw your picture in Evergreen [Evergreen Review -2  (1958) – the San Francisco Renaissance issue] –  & then I realized I know your face better than my owne for that one moment – drink toast to Peter out at sea. I hate to be away from Paris, began to enjoy it there very much. The more dreams of you the better. What time is it?? I forgot to ask you to write a letter to take to Bob Merims [Editorial note -Columbia classmate of Allen’s] to borrow some money from him incase I get broke, it sliped my mind. When I get ashore I will find his address and send it in this letter. You can write himor me noterizing a lone. Tho the fifty dollars I get will help me along for awile to when I get a job I dont know when I will get my frist pa check & also I still dont know if I will get Feb  V.A. check, for the Government may start taking that from me to pay this ship trip I owe them so I dont know exactly where I stand so  that borrowing money from Bob may be essential so send me a letter OK, ing it soon as can. Sorry I forgot about it before. Big party on ship, last night abord. Have new years cap on, trying to rob drinks but can’t, everybody not drunk enough yet. Oh yes Onthe frist day out I saw land in the sky and thought it was real. It was only till I left you & Bill to get on train did I feel lonely sadness pains and crying in my throught, but now I feel better, tho when I left you I felt our friendship was like sunset dust floating and seperating away – young young young saw flying fish with red boots on. May I ask what color are your viens, hows yourn chimmeny throughout? The sea is real alright & its full of bellybutttons and mirrors, May I hafe this walse on this wave.  Someone  wants the typewritter so must move on off. I feel very good and confident things will work out well. Stomache upset at so much expectancy when I get home…


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