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The Lion For Real
– Allen Ginsberg


I came home and found a lion in my living room
Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion!
Two stenographers pulled their brunnette hair and banged the window shut
I hurried home to Patterson and stayed two days

Called up old Reichian analyst
who’d kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana
‘It’s happened’ I panted ‘There’s a Lion in my living room’
‘I’m afraid any discussion would have no value’ he hung up

I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend
I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye
We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow he kicked me out
I ended up masturbating in his jeep parked in the street moaning ‘Lion.’

Found Joey my novelist friend and roared at him ‘Lion!’
He looked at me interested and read me his spontaneous ignu high poetries
I listened for lions all I heard was Elephant Tiglon Hippogriff Unicorn
Ants
But figured he really understood me when we made it in Ignaz Wisdom’s 
bathroom.

But next day he sent me a leaf from his Smoky Mountain retreat
‘I love you little Bo-Bo with your delicate golden lions
But there being no Self and No Bars therefore the Zoo of your dear Father
hath no lion
You said your mother was mad don’t expect me to produce the Monster for
your Bridegroom.’

Confused dazed and exalted bethought me of real lion starved in his stink
in Harlem
Opened the door the room was filled with the bomb blast of his anger
He roaring hungrily at the plaster walls but nobody could hear outside
thru the window
My eye caught the edge of the red neighbor apartment building standing in
deafening stillness
We gazed at each other his implacable yellow eye in the red halo of fur
Waxed rhuemy on my own but he stopped roaring and bared a fang
greeting.
I turned my back and cooked broccoli for supper on an iron gas stove
boilt water and took a hot bath in the old tup under the sink board.

He didn’t eat me, tho I regretted him starving in my presence.
Next week he wasted away a sick rug full of bones wheaten hair falling out
enraged and reddening eye as he lay aching huge hairy head on his paws
by the egg-crate bookcase filled up with thin volumes of Plato, & Buddha.

Sat by his side every night averting my eyes from his hungry motheaten
face
stopped eating myself he got weaker and roared at night while I had 
nightmares
Eaten by lion in bookstore on Cosmic Campus, a lion myself starved by
Professor Kandisky, dying in a lion’s flophouse circus,
I woke up mornings the lion still added dying on the floor–‘Terrible
Presence!’I cried’Eat me or die!’

It got up that afternoon–walked to the door with its paw on the south wall to
steady its trembling body
Let out a soul-rending creak from the bottomless roof of his mouth
thundering from my floor to heaven heavier than a volcano at night in
Mexico
Pushed the door open and said in a gravelly voice “Not this time Baby–
but I will be back again.”

Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger
Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the universe how am I chosen
In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served
Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your
Mercy.

Paris, March 1958

My take:

There is a lion that lives with all of us: the lion that will bring our death.  It is inevitable that at some point it will devour us, but no one knows the timing.  Don’t bother telling people about it.  Even the ones who we care about the most don’t really care, and will call you crazy.  The trick is to accept the presence of this lion in our lives, and keep living the best we can.  To keep singing the song you are meant to sing.

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