World Karma/Demetria Martinez

“World Karma” – listen to Allen reading his poem “World Karma”
(included in the volume, White Shroud, Poems 1980-1985)

recorded in 1988 by local radio station KUNM at a fund raiser at the Kimo Theatre, Albuquerque, New Mexico for the New Mexico Sanctuary Defense Committee supporting Demetria Martinez and the Sanctuary Movement 


“China be China, B.C. Clay armies underground the First Han Emperor’s improvement
on burying his armies alive
Later Ming tombs buried excavator architects
& Mao officially buried 20,000,000 in Shit Freeze & Exile, much Suicide
especially bilingual sophisticates in the molecular structure of surfaces, machine-tool engineers
and Poetic intelligentsia questioned his Imperial vision of Pure Land
future communist afterworld
Russia had Czars & Stalin, all Yiddish Poets shot August 12, 1952 in Lubyanka basement, everybody got drunk afterward,
everyone still whispers on streetcorners
America forever democratic, lawless sheriffs shot Indians, bad men, good men, chinks kikes niggers and each other
Spain always killed bulls & loved blood, matadors & crucifixion, reds & fascists assassinated anarchists—
The Jews always complained, kvetching about false gods, and erected the biggest false God, Jehovah, in middle of western civilization—
For creating the Judge the Jews are judged that’s their world Karma continuing, the Atom bomb
British always had sense of superiority, class, stiff upperlip, the Queen and fuck you ducky up your bloody ’ole
The French, advanced sense of superiority, stiff back, Algérie is always indissolubly a part of La France,
We will not regret the necessity to kill you or anyone who disagrees
They appreciate everything wine women song modern art
O la la they’re so smart, introduced opium cultivation
Indochina will always be an indissoluble addiction to France, the Bourse
Germans had Kaisers Hitlers, orderly meticulous and rational a bunch of beasts
now want Nuclear arms They’re also intelligent Pride themselves on Science
romantic Poetry, their Black Forest mysterious full of Solitude acid rain
hi tech civilization First the ovens of Auschwitz now goodbye ancient trees
we have to keep up with the vulgar Americans
Italy the trains never ran on time, they got good shoes & Pope & Mafia
also good tomatoes and Angelico Beato, who’d want to complain in Naples or Uffizi?
In 200 years America’ll have a billion people like neon China
Computerized students’ll sleep six abed and hawk their mucus on the morning floor
before fighting to get into the shower—much less a piece of soap
and half stick of bacon with their petrochemical Wheaties & eggs— That’s because
we had to Get Back to America, let’s Stand Up Tall
so we can insult the rest of the world.
More!—The Moslems expansionist monotheists will go Jihad whenever able
Always their god best god only god only name Allah and
die like a dog if you don’t believe me! From Morocco to Java
heathen dogs and cats go barking and meow after terrific Nobodaddy
in Paradise the Western lands Heaven Pure Land Garden of Sky,
other side of Eternal Dreamtime I vote for Australian Aborigines!
Let them run the world after Hi Tech’s annihilated all other species & genetic strains
from whale to donkey sperm.

Kunming, December 24, 1984, Midnight-12:49

(from Allen Ginsberg –White Shroud, Poems 1980-1985 (1987) & Collected Poems 1947-1997 (2007) – (c) HarperCollins


David Steinberg, writing in the Alburquerque Journal – “727 seats of the Kimo Theater were filled with poets, sanctuary supporters, Ginsberg admirers, gays, people who wanted to attend what probably was a major cultural event for Albuquerque.”

To hear the complete broadcast (recordings from that event) check out poet Larry Goodell‘s Bandcamp digital download  – here

The Demetria Martinez case  – Poet and activist Demetria Martinez, working as a religion reporter in 1986 for the Albuquerque Journal, became inextricably caught up with the politics of The Sanctuary Movement, a religious and political campaign that began in the 1980’s to provide a safe haven for Central America refugees, fleeing war in their countries, such as Guatemala and El Salvador. The movement flourished and was able to develop “an underground railroad” to transmit people from the Guatemalan-Mexico border to northern Mexico, and across the border into Arizona or Texas. The Governor of New Mexico, Toney Anaya, declared New Mexico the nation’s first sanctuary state in March, 1986.
Martinez was prosecuted (along with Lutheran minister, the Reverend Glen Remer-Thamert), the first reporter to be charged, and an attempt was made to use her poetry (her notes) as part of the evidence. In August of that year the two of them had traveled to Mexico where they met with two pregnant Salvadorian women. These women planned to deliver their babies in the US and then give them up for adoption  Martinez and Ramer-Thamert were charged with conspiracy, with harboring and transporting illegal aliens, and with violating the immigration laws. The government however did not prevail in their case and they were acquitted, on basic Fifth Amendment grounds.

The Acquittal of Demetria Martinez and Reverend Glen Remer-Thamert

Martinez went on to a career as a teacher, author, and continues as an exemplary activist. Her 1994 novel Mother Tongue fictionalizes much of the ‘Eighties events.  See Martinez in 1998 – here – and in conversation (with UCLA professor Héctor Calderón) in 2013 – here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *