On Mexico City Blues (38th Chorus)

Aztec Hammer  – “Garver has an Aztec Hammer/To batter the tacks in..”

Allen Ginsberg on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues continues from here

AG: Next experiment:  “Pome beginning with parenthesis: -” – 38th Chorus.

“Pome beginning with parenthesis: -/ God!)/Garver has an Aztec Hammer/To batter the tacks in..” – (We had tacks in the end (of the last poem).  Remember that little box of tacks? Either it’s a box of tacks he had around the house or a box of tacks he had when he was a kid that he cherished)

“Pome beginning with parenthesis: -/God!)/Garver has an Aztec Hammer/To batter the tacks in/It’s made of Pyramid Stone/ The shape of a Knot/ Cleopatra’s -/ The Knotty issue Marc/Bradelian Antonio/Julius Marc McAnthony/ Thorny horn of hare/Propensities and hair/ And disgusting to the bare./Aztec Hammer, never stop./Folded ripplefold over there/ nice,/Tacks went in,/”It’s take an artist/to do all this”/   Careful man of cellophane/decks/&/sometimes/ceremonial/ silver foil/ but/usually/plain pleasant paper” – (“(P)lain pleasant paper” – he’s talking about Garver‘s household habits.  A “Careful man of cellophane/decks” – decks of morphine or decks of heroin, I imagine.  Decks.  Do you still use the word “deck” when you sell (drugs)?
Student:  Yeah.
AG:  Heroin.

“Careful man of cellophane/decks/&/sometimes/ceremonial/silver foil..” – (If he’s feeling rich he might put his heroin in tin foil) – “ but/ usually/plain pleasant paper”

He apparently has a little hammer and he’s just fixing up (in) his room.  And that Aztec hammer reminds him of pyramids, that reminds him of Egypt, that reminds him of Cleopatra, that reminds him of Cleopatra’s knot – what was Cleopatra’s knot?  Did she have a knot?  She had a snake.  I don’t know if she had a knot.[Editorial note – there’s the Cleopatra’s needle (the obelisks) but no knot]

Then there’s Marc Anthony, Marc Antonio.  Marlon Brando – “Brandelian Antonio” – “Brandelian” – Marlon Brando played Marc Anthony in (the) “Julius Caesar” film several decades back.

“Thorny horn of hare” – the horn of a hare – does anybody know what that is?  A hare don’t have horns except on Western postcards.[Editorial note – the jackalope!]  And Buddhist conundrums.  There’s a Buddhist conundrum about enlightenment is the horn of a hare. no, reality.. Maya –  Maya is like the horn of a hare –  that is illusion, delusion of existence is like the horn of a hare.  A hare don’t have horns.  Or like you look in a barrel and you see a snake and then you look again and see it’s just a rope, but meanwhile you’ve had a big panic and thought you saw evil.  Or thought you saw a threat.  The snake and the rope is one of the oldest of the Indian mystical rope tricks that are mental rope tricks – that is to say, a metaphor for how come reality looks real but when you look again it really isn’t as real as it looked.  It’s something else – it was a rope instead of a snake.  Anybody heard that one?  Anybody heard that joke before?  Well, I think it was first written down in poetry in India by … by Shankara, the great Hindu logician of the 6th century – a famous passage about the snake and the rope.

And also in Buddhist discourses the horn of a hare – existence is like the horn of a hare; you may see it there but blink twice and die and it’ll be gone.  Therefore “Propensities” which is another Buddhist word for what is it?  Samsara  For the habitual tendencies that lead to karma or propensities.  So there’s a little bit of Buddhist mental trickery thrown in here.

“Propensities and hair/And disgusting to the bare.”  And finally “disgusting to the bare” is Cleopatra and Marc Anthony and Marlon Brando and Jack Kerouac and the whole physical love scene and the whole arrangement of rooms – “disgusting to the bare.”  That’s his mother’s view of him. She used to sneak upstairs when he was a kid and listen at the bathroom when he was masturbating, he said.  And then he had to go and confess to the priest.  So – “disgusting to the bare.”

So – “It’s made of Pyramid Stone/ The shape of a Knot/Cleopatra’s Knot –“ –  (Probably Cleopatra’s cunt)  – “The Knotty issue Marc/Bradelian…’ – ( Probably that’s what the knot is there that he describes).

“It’s made of Pyramid Stone/The shape of a Knot/ Cleopatra’s Knot- /The Knotty issue Marc..” – (Let’s see, you know like Marc Anthony gave up Rome for Cleopatra’s body or her love.  So it’s a knotty issue) – “The Knotty issue Marc/Brandelian Antonio/ Julius Marc McAnthony/Thorny horn of hare/ Propensities and hair/And disgusting to the bare.

And then  –  “Aztec Hammer, never stop.” – (I don’t know what that is.  I guess prick never stop) – “Folded ripplefold over there/nice,/ Tacks went in…” – (I guess Garver was probably tacking a fold of curtain onto the wall above the window, or else tacking a tablecloth on a table or on a little shelf – “Folded ripplefold over there/nice,/Tacks went in,..”)

And then Garver comments – “ “It’s take an artist/to do all this” – (“It’s take an artist/to do all this” – Kerouac copied that right down – “It’s take an artist to do this.”  And although it sounds completely normal, when you look at it it ain’t regular syntax, but it’s the way people talk, maybe from Pennsylvania Dutch) – “It’s take an artist/ to do all this”/  Careful man of cellophane/ decks”

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixteen minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-one minutes in

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