Counterculture Recounted

Beatniks got hip until hippies got beat
by their own rock’n’roll and by riot cops
as they made love and war in field and street:
spoiled rebel children, psychedelic flops
who thought their youth made them immune
to lies from gods that pipe that tune.

Beatniks leaned first toward hip existential,
breaking out of the fifties mental mold.
Culture’s Petri dish turned pestilential;
drugs, deviance and rebellion: dull as old.
Yet novel did it ever seem
to souls exploited for their dream.

The Hippies took that bongo tea-house scene;
added acid’s naked technicolor:
freak-outs, love-ins, the normalized obscene;
politics of outrage, now made duller.
Impulsivity their passion.
(Sin is never out of fashion.)

Youth’s dissident victory incomplete
they glimpsed on flowery fields of battle
kaleidoscopic visions of defeat:
the psychedelic baby’s death-rattle.
Allen Ginsberg’s perverted freak.
Now reached its Himalayan peak.

Trace back in time this cultural malaise;
the poisoned sources where doubt first enticed.
In retrospect we diagnose their ways:
anti-God, anti-family, anti-Christ.
Oh no, you say; that was just youth—
we had to follow our own truth.

What did we learn in your San Fran cafés
poetically dense in plume-clouds of smoke?
That arty nihilism’s just a phase
and transgression of morals a tired joke.
(The Man will always make a buck
off fools who live to smoke and fuck.)

That mystic idols are not Truth . . .
blown minds will never save a soul;
Faith and Wisdom, both alien to youth,
in child’s-play, play a minor role.

That beats burn out and hippies age;
we’re no wiser for their excess.
Unwashed ravings, Bohemian rage
contain no truths—much less, success.

What did they teach us while tripping and stoned ?
Could it nourish at all, their cosmic brew—
their cult of youth, their dying gods bemoaned,
their howls, their road trips, their breakings on through?

Only this, Daddy-O — now dig my writ;
my be-boppin’ speed rant, my acid rock:
that drug-addled rebels who scrawl half-lit
fumble with a key that cannot unlock.

 

I wonder sometimes
How Haiku got popular
When it is so DULL


 

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