I first read this poem in college when a professor gave me a copy of Cosmopolitan Greetings. I wasn’t crazy about the book, so I cashed it in at a used bookstore for credit. While flipping through a Ginsberg anthology today I came across this poem again, and I have to admit, I’m even less impressed than when I first read it.
The poem is basically an ode to his asshole. He speaks frankly about the pleasures of sodomy, as well as his concerns about AIDS and other possible issues that he may encounter as he ages. While I applaud his courage to express himself openly, I just found the poem itself to be a weaker version of what he did so brilliantly in his earlier works, particularly “Howl.” It was almost like he was trying to jump the shark here. I really get the impression that he was going for shock value more than artistic expression, which is sad. It seems like he was grasping for the relevancy of his earlier poems, but instead he comes across as an old guy still trying to be hip.
I personally feel that Ginsberg is one of the most important poets of his time, and maybe that is another reason why this poem is so disappointing to me. I just don’t sense his unique voice here. But, you may feel differently. Click here to read the poem online and feel free to share your thoughts.