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The Collage Collection: Adventures in American Despair

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Associative Collage from Dylan lyrics
Associative Collage from Dylan lyrics
(Image by John Hawkins)
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The Collage Collection: Adventures in American Despair

by John Kendall Hawkins

Below the first of "many" associative poems that collage-link to lyrics of songs of those who moved us back in the day, when day was day and night was night, and everything was urban blight. I still can recall playing this Dylan song over and over again, because it was on the album I kept replaying, thinking here I am, here I am in New Haven, CT, home of the white elite and Black Man Down, keen to attend the Yale-Harvard annual football game I'd been invited to as a member of the scholarship whites of Groton (I was reading Kerouac and E.P. Thompson at the time, lived in Lowell near textile mills, grieved into the local canal already filled with the tears of the Lady of Shallot). Fight the Power! And Revolution for the Hell of It! (h/t Something John the Baptist is said to have said to Jesus)

Poem #1: Dylan Sings the Blues, But Why Harp On It

They're selling / postcards / of the hanging

They're painting / the passports / brown

The beauty parlor / is filled / with sailors

The circus is in town

Here comes / the blind commissioner

They've got him / in a trance

One hand / is tied to / the tightrope walker

The other / is in his pants

And the riot squad, / they're restless

They need / somewhere to go

As Lady and I / look out tonight

From Desolation Row".

  • opening stanza from "Desolation Row" off Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. "Yes I received your letter yesterday about the time the door knob broke-- Can you believe such an image? And can you blame him for not wanting to be the Voice of a Generation├ "× -- getting letters like that? Can you?
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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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