Three Poems by John Giorno

BOMB 16 Summer 1986

New York Live Arts presents

Marjani Forte
Nov 15-19


John Giorno 01

Portrait of John Giorno. Photo by Curtis Knapp, © 1984.

Scum & Slime

Optimism,
trust,
fearless
authority,
and disaster

eating filth
and transforming it,
with white
intentions,
into black
compassion,

I want to be
filthy
and anonymous
I want to be filthy
and anonymous
I want to be filthy
    and anonymous

Open your eye lids
and see it looks good,
drinking poison
and in each sip
on your lip
is wisdom
mind.

I like warm air
going over
my skin,

billions
of world
systems,

your body is
crawling
and crashing
into the surf.

Pouring
money
down
another
hole
pouring money
down another hole
pouring money down
another hole,
and keep it
hidden.

When Adam
and Eve
were in the Garden of Eden,
God asked Eve
not to do
two things,
not to eat
the fruit
and not to go swimming,
so she ate
and went for a swim,
that’s why
the ocean smells
of fish.

You and I are
sleeping on
a cement
and linoleum
kitchen floor,

you look like
a television set
sitting on
a refrigerator,

I would crawl
through a mile of shit
to suck off
the last guy
who fucked her.

We don’t take
drugs no more,
we sit around
praying for money,
don’t do anything drastic,

when you’re with
a lover
you have no
control
when you’re with a lover
you have no control
when you’re with a lover
     you have
no control,

I want to be
filthy
and anonymous,
scum
and slime.

What’s going on
in here,
it looks like
everyone is
underwater,
give me
a break,
I’m dead
and I’m asleep.

 
1985

 

Sucking Mud

5000
years ago,
there was this
hero
and heroine,
where’s the heroin,
and they were
at war
for a thousand years,
when one would
succeed
the other would
fail,
one day
she got really
angry
and they had
a duel
to the death,
she was a great
demon
and wrecked
disasters
on the world,
and they flew up
into the sky
and had a star
wars
confrontation,
he took
his sword
and threw it,
and it stuck
into her heart,
she was so angry,
just as she
was about
to die,
she released
her period,
and where
the drops
of blood
fell
to earth,
tobacco
plants
grew,
and that’s the origin
of cigarettes.

Do anything
you want
but don’t come
in my mouth
do anything you want
but don’t come
in my mouth,
suck those
sweet
pits,

that’s the way
I like them,
drunk
and all dressed up,
eating it
live
in one gulp,
sucking
mud
sucking mud
sucking mud
sucking mud
sucking mud,

fist
and forearm,
push it,
stick it,
punch it,
break it
open,
smash it,
suck it,
make it
feel good,

you got
to keep
a light
hand,
if you want
to touch
their heart
you got to keep
a light hand,
if you want to touch
their heart,
your body
feels so
good to me
your body feels so
good,
completely
attached to
embracing
warmth.

Bring me
your dead,
even though
I don’t know
what to do,
bring me
your dying
and let me
know them,
and don’t trip
over the confetti,
the winds
between
the worlds
cutting like
a knife.

 
1986

​John Giorno 02

John Giorno at the Beaubourg, Paris 1985. Photo by Françoise Janicot, © 1985.

Exiled in Domestic Life

I’m standing
in the hall,
I pushed
the button,
and I’m waiting
for the elevator;
you are alone,
you are unstable,
and you’re not sure
it’s OK
anymore,
exiled
in domestic
life
exiled in
domestic life
exiled in domestic life.
Nobody does
it for you,
you got to
do it
all by yourself,
and I’ve been
brutalized
and I’ve been brutalized
and I’ve been brutalized
and I’ve been brutalized.

I would rather
be dead,
than be 18
years old,
and a poet,
and if I can
do that,
I can sit
on somebody’s
face
I can sit on
somebody’s face
I can sit on somebody’s face,
and feed.

I want to
sleep
hugging someone
over and
over again
I want to sleep hugging
someone over and over
again,
and cuddling
in the morning,
cause it’s
healing
my body
in my heart,
it’s safe
to be married
these days
it’s safe to be married
these days.

When you got
lots of negative
thoughts,
they are big,
and powerful
and wonderful
they are big, and powerful
and wonderful
they are big,
and powerful and wonderful,
it’s their
job
to get it up,
it’s not
your problem.
If it isn’t
black,
it’s not
good,
and it’s not going
to work,
you don’t feel
a razor blade
you don’t feel a razor blade,
and I like juice,
your skin
smells like
an old sponge
soaked in
alcohol,
and this place
stinks.

A hundred
million
years ago,
the geophysical
adjustment
that made petroleum
from primordial
forests,
maybe 100 million
years from now,
will transform
the plastic
in our garbage
into something
better
than diamonds.

The reason
it’s good,
is cause
I work
all the time,
and I’ve been spending
the rest
of my time,
laying on
the bed
with my girlfriend
watching TV,
and I want her
to tell me
wisdom
when she doesn’t
know she is
and I want her to tell
me wisdom
when she doesn’t know
she is
and I want her to tell me
wisdom when
she doesn’t know she is.

What are you
slapping your
hands
together for,
do you want
me to slap
your face?

 
1983

John Giorno originated Dial-A-Poem in 1968. He innovated the use of the telephone for mass communications. His books include Grasping at Emptiness (Kulcher Foundation, 1985), Suicide Sutra (Christian Bourgois Editeur, Paris, 1980), and Cancer in My Left Ball Something Else Press, 1973). Recent LP records include I’m Rock Hard (The Giorno Band LP, 1986), A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse LP (1985) and Better an Old Demon Than a New God LP (1984).

Fun House Mirror, for Elizabeth Murray by Anne Waldman
Elizabeth Murray 01 Bomb 097
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Nan Goldin by Stephen Westfall
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Nan Goldin’s photography never fails to entice, shining with her trademark sensuality and tenderness. She spoke with Stephen Westfall for BOMB in 1991.

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On the occasion of the 1988 production of Our Town at the Lincoln Center, actor and playwright Jeff Weiss discusses fame, taking chances, and the pleasure of obscurity in a BOMB short with Allen Frame.

Originally published in

BOMB 16, Summer 1986
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