Two Poems by Michael Thompson


Jack and Bobby
Took their turns
With Miss Monroe
Before making it look
Like an overdose
In 1962

Charlie and his family
Lived lawlessly,
The voices in his head
Felt like screams
And the only way
To shut them up
Was to paint the walls
With ink and blood
While singing Helter Skelter

The summer of love
Was sandwiched between
The assassinations
Of MLK and the Kennedys
And the man
On the moon
Was tempered
By Hell’s Angels
At Altamont
In 1969

All those hippies
With their flower power
Couldn’t offset Vietnam
And if the Beatles
Wouldn’t have come
To America,
Maybe John Lennon
Would be alive today




Rexroth, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti
Are so-called poets
That should be cast with stones
For breathing their names
In the same sentence
As Micheline, Kerouac,
Norse and Bukowski

Allen was a hack,
Kenneth a bully
And the only thing
Worth a damn
That Lawrence did
Was open up City Lights

Some might say
The only reason
That City Lights exists
Is so old Lawrence
Would have somewhere
To publish his mediocre poetry

There was nothing poetic
About Ginsberg’s work,
The irony of him
Outliving Jack and Hank
Borders on the criminal
Since he’s never had
Anything of value to say
And he continually misdiagnosed
The artistic direction
Kerouac’s novels should take

In the end,
The legacy of Allen Ginsberg
Is one of a bloated bore
And a disingenuous queen
Petty to the point
Of manic neurosis
And just because
A street is named after him
Doesn’t mean Rexroth
Could write worth a God-damn

Despite all of their posturing,
The torch was never passed
Since they lacked the clout or charisma
Of the true giants

This might be considered blasphemy
Here in poetic San Francisco,
But those who call these literary rapists
Anything except ordinary
Are ignorant at best
And I hope they refrain
From buying my books
Since I don’t want readers
Who don’t know the difference
Between poetry
And their assholes


9 Responses to “Two Poems by Michael Thompson”

  1. Michael N. Thompson is the author of the poetry collections Dancing Inside The Mouth Of Madness and This Hollow Pierces. His poems have published by Nine Twenty Two Press, The Toronto Quarterly, Pooka Press, Citizen’s Voice and Heavy Bear Magazine. Michael lives in San Francisco.

  2. One wonders what his assessment of modern poets who still live in SF would be…

  3. I admire your ability to say so much in such a simple yet interesting (and humorous) way. I like that you are unafraid to view these sacred subjects with a cynical eye and bring the “legends” down to the realm of “mere mortals”. I hope to read much more of your work!

  4. William Taylor and AD Winans have my respect

  5. “All those hippies
    With their flower power
    Couldn’t offset Vietnam”


    One of the more significant effects of the ‘sixties’ was the hippie counterculture’s impact on the Student Movement. The hippies took the movement out of the streets and on to the college campuses around the country. Although much of the country disapproved of the hippie counterculture that had arisen alongside the civil rights and the anti-war movement, they eventually became a part of and replaced the existing clean-cut, well dressed leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society.
    America’s college campuses had become centers of the anti-war movement where local rallies, “teach ins”, and marches on Washington were organized. As a result, Americans had seen dozens of anti-war demonstrations in every major city. Many of the protesters were willing to go to great lengths to stop the war such as putting their bodies in the way of police clubs and tear gas. By the late sixties, anti-war protests had become so violent that it began to appear as if war was about to erupt on the streets of America. This kind of violence depicts what is known as a revolution. It was a “form of conflict involving illegal and usually violent actions by subordinate groups that seek to change the status quo” (Miller, 2007, p. 297). The hippie revolution was the last great revolution in America to date.

    As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” It was a time when parents felt extremely uncomfortable with the abrupt shift they observed in values and attitudes. It was hard to understand how this generation of young people could include both brave young marines and hippies who burned their draft cards. Of course the obvious answer to this contradiction is that they were the same people. The anti-war movement eventually spread to the military as more and more young boys were drafted into service. “Soldiers began to wear peace symbols and flash peace signs and movement salutes. Some units even organized their own demonstrations to link up with the movement at home” (Schlight, 1986, p. 45). One problem of the anti-war movement was the difficulty of finding ways to move beyond protests and symbolic acts to deeds that would actually impede the war. “Unlike college students and other civilians, the troops in Vietnam had no such problem. Individual acts of rebellion, ranging from desertion to killing officers who ordered search and destroy missions, merged into mutiny and large-scale resistance” (Schlight, 1986, p. 45).

    “The parents of the nation’s youth had expected their children to affirm the values of a post-World War II America that was intent on expanding its prosperity and overcoming the threat of a communist empire—even though it was the young who way pay the bloodiest costs for the nation’s war in Vietnam. But the youth were forging their own ideals of peace, tolerance, politics, aesthetics, and community” (Gilmore & Weir, 2008). This is how the spirit that is identified with the hippies spread around the world. This is how it changed the possibilities for how life and community could be lived, as well as how new forms of democracy might come from the peripheries in American society. “This process did not end up remaking institutions, as some in the counterculture expected, nor was it an unambiguous, sweeping break with the world of the past. However, it has vastly reconfigured America’s culture and manners for the past forty years” (Gilmore & Weir, 2008) and pieces of the 1960’s Hippie Revolution will forever resonate in a present society.

    This is a section from a well-researched essay I wrote on the “The Hippie Counterculture And the Student Anti-War Movement of the 1960s”

    It was written from the perspective of someone who was there.

    DB Cox… Sgt. USMC 1968-1972

  6. Two nice poems, Michael! And they make some interesting points. Though I think some of Ginsberg’s early work is essential (Howl, Kaddish, etc.), I’m pretty much with you on everything else. Ferlinghetti was always a hack.

  7. akasajewelry Says:

    Thank you for sharing. I was a child in the 60’s and experienced the Haight-Ashbury scene as we lived in SF, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Manson murders, the Zodiac, The Beatles rise and break-up, the love-ins, sit-ins, flower power, psychedelia, and the Vietnam war. We lived on military bases and even there the movement was evident. I was a heavy time. I remember it well. Your poem brought me back, in a very real way.

    Everyday People, Love Child and Crystal Blue Persuasion are forever engraved in my soul. As a child back then you don’t really know what to make of everything, and you don’t even try. You just live as a kid with the 60’s forever being a part of who you are.

  8. Timothy Pettet Says:

    Mr. Thompson, Are you being ironic, as is the favored attitude of so many politically correct poets? While I agree with some of your opinions, I wonder why you bother to pretend that you are writing poetry. There is no call in your language for anything other than prose. But then, every asshole has its poetic moments. Excuse me. Tim

  9. I must have missed the memo stating that there are rules in poetry

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