Archive for the Marc Olmsted Category

Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted on November 9, 2022 by Scot



Sitting in the sweltering shade of the car we’re trying to sell
an energy drink substituting for a nap (burning manic in the brain – )
I will wear my Vampiro wrestler t-shirt to the Dharma Zoom group now

Vampiro the Canadian wrestler who made it big in Mexico and has a collectable action figure
Vampiro the oath bound local protector lokapala of my skull palace
Vampiro the Goth Bodybuilder (as if) a Misfits missing band member
(&) whose daughter is cute & wise beyond her teen mind
(mom looked like a Telemundo star and is now his ex)
I am Vampiro inseparable in the imagination – grotesque, full of groans,
Golgothic with thorn crown of a bashed folding chair, blood charismatic,
unstoppable Goth Hulk (who is Frankenstein already)
lost creature, hurt mutant, escaping the mob of torches
I am Vampiro king of vampires commanding good behavior, co-existence love & let die
I am Vampiro going Vegan tomato juice is my blood a kale greenish glow in the night
no bats were harmed in the writing of this poem
Vampiro for President
Vampiro the Poet Vampiro who hides his aging wounds Zero Vampiro ak-ak from the clouds kamikaze killer of none
Harmless Vampiro tamed, signing pictures at the Wrestle-Con
Vampiro fanbase keeping you alive as the words chanted charted under electric bulb as midnight approaches and I have yet to feed

Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on March 24, 2022 by Scot


Gill Man


hair ex-president
scar tissue of America
maskless in the pandemic
white laws black jails
The Creature Walks Among Us
midnight flicker
black & white gill man surgically altered
molested pope star to breathe among celebs
nose dangerously close to dropping off
in the leprosy of victim turned predator
Israel’s dominatrix whipping Palestine
Asian-American Republicans in the Hiroshima Parade
(radiation good for business)
hippies turned alt-right
with heavy metal weapons bristling PTSD
of unjust wars they murdered in
skin heads bunkers sieg heil with concentration knives
gay black conservatives & Christians spitting venom
the next Beast will be bigger


Three Poems by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on July 7, 2021 by Scot


Alex did the yard work
Bottomed out borrowed $20 in sunglasses vanished
Reruns from Hell, now
clear-eyed $20 forgotten but wants to works –
so happy to see him can’t tell you
as he rakes the
leaves again



Year of the Iron Reporter
Year of the Golden Jackass President
Year of the Monkeybutt Blockbuster 3D
Year of the New Virus Corona
Year of the Dragon Elements
Year of the Poor Meth Hooker suddenly illumined
Year of the Derelict Oblivion Jones
Year of my white kitten covering the world in her shedding bless-fur amen



She thought
no one noticed her
putting on make-up
in the rear-view mirror


Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on September 28, 2020 by Scot

“Heart bone”
Strength of heart is needed
Supreme Justice
Goodbye Ruth Bader Ginsburg
samurai heart
observes rain
man without rank
human bone
sword of intelligence
flying metal star
“haunted dominion”
haunt with elegance
o heart of bone

listening to Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel webinar


Three Poems by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on August 21, 2019 by Scot


I saw the clouds rainbow’d
from the air & then then saw
the fires & when the plane landed
the beautiful horror of the setting sun
an angry red ball
on the tarmac horizon





In the public restroom
I am startled by my newly
bleached-out hair
but I’m still old –
now back in the ER
with suffering wife stretched out
in the harsh light
at the end of time
where nurses march through & little happens –
glare down o hospital light!
– fierce bardo glow –
suffering’s end is just a gap
between thoughts
– bedpans & ultrasound cables, her plastic veins to IV bag
suspended cool translucent
from the space
probe rack




the ants were exterminated
the prayer beads broke
I like hamburgers
prayer flags across my roof
how many thousand insect ghosts
blacked out in a white hot scream?
eat your carrots
recycle in the red smog
the plastic bottles
they no longer take


Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on October 7, 2018 by Scot




you said it really fast so the other guy said “What?’

“Did you know that queers can’t hear?”

I tried this on my dad – I was 9 or 10, heard on the schoolyard.

“Marc,” he said solemnly, “do you know what a queer IS?”

A spaz or retard I assumed.

“It’s a man who acts like a woman.”

“You mean like Elvis Presley?”




Marc Olmsted has appeared in City Lights Journal, New Directions in Prose & Poetry,  The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and a variety of small presses.  He is the author of five collections of poetry, including What Use Am I a Hungry Ghost?, which has an introduction by Allen Ginsberg.  For more of his work,



haiku by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted on July 8, 2014 by Scot
Cherry blossoms
pushed by wind on the sidewalk?
Styrofoam peanuts



(SPACE) TRAIN HOME by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on November 7, 2013 by Scot

30ish guy reads a glowing comic book
on his electron tablet =
Marvel Comics superheroes of my youth
here with zombie eyes
and ravenous skull mouths
some apocalyptic disease
from outer space


Posted in Beat Memior, Marc Olmsted with tags on January 6, 2013 by Scot

The Maitri Benefit was for the San Francisco Zen Center’s new hospice (maitri is Sanskrit for compassion), and included Philip Whalen, Michael McClure, Ginsberg, trumpeter Don Cherry and others.  Libby came, too.  She worked at the hospice and, with the encouragement of the Lama at our Center, we were now romantically involved.  It led to us moving out.

Most hilariously, Don Cherry kept noodling on his horn as if warming up with a seeming acid casualty glee during some of the other lesser poets.  It was clear that Don knew pretty well what he was doing, but he acted like he didn’t so there was no calling him on it and certainly no controlling it.  It had a Corso-esque prankster element that really showed the true selves of the various posturing poets who attempted to read with his merciless punctuations of blat and bleep.  Cherry was mainly there to read with Ginsberg, and he behaved himself then.  Afterward, McClure asked Philip, Allen and me to sign his poster, which I appreciated.  I saw a young man preparing to squire Allen away, and he had that self-important look that I knew was difficult to avoid.

Libby and I had a tumultuous affair that eventually resolved into a lasting friendship.  She’d heard about this interesting teacher, Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, and took me to an empowerment of his in Berkeley.  I came into the small apartment where it was being given, and Lama Tharchin looked up from his preparations and directly into my eyes.  His expression seemed to say, “Oh, it’s you.”  For me it was an immediate connection that remains to this day.  And Libby wound up his consort after our affair had burned out.  One might say our romance was her slumming between lamas.

A month later, Allen read with Andy Clausen at Cody’s in Berkeley, the place was absolutely packed.  Allen saved me a seat, thankfully – the scene extended far beyond the ability to view him.  As per usual, he was gracious and mentioned to the audience how nice it was to be in the company of old poet friends, and I was listed.  I have always loved Clausen’s work, an enormously under appreciated poet and great reader of his own stuff – a real American voice, gravely, bear-like, voice of the blue collar with strange baroque Whitmanic expansiveness, the poetic equivalent of Orson Welles but with a down home intelligence, like the wisdom of a hobo.  We wound up over at Clausen’s in Oakland afterward, and I sat next to Wavy Gravy, charming old doper who remembered everyone from the Merry Prankster Electric Kool-Aid ‘60’s – mentioning that a lot of people had died trying to imitate Neal Cassady.

The next day we walked around the Haight, looking into the used bookstores.  With Allen, a new boyfriend that must’ve been my age when we first met.  I’ve forgotten his name, but Allen showed good taste.  Sweet, gentle bespectacled intellectual kid – I had one of those amazing moments where one readjusts one’s own sense of age, for this boy’s face was completely without lines, as if newborn, or even still of the womb.  It was similar to the way college freshman just look younger and younger as time progresses and the carcass grows tired.  We chatted a little – he knew I was an old boyfriend, he was a little shy, perhaps thought I’d try to make him like I had been hounded at his age.  Allen bought me a couple of finds, including a copy of Antler’s poetry that had been signed by Antler as well to some ingrate who’d sold it.  We ate in a place called Hell’s Kitchen that didn’t last long – the service was so terrible everyone had to be on drugs.

GinsValiantI drove Allen and his new boy around in my ’64 Plymouth Valiant which the previous owner had painted black with house paint.  Photographer Chris Felver was along for the ride.  I remember driving up Market Street past the Cinema Theater, and somehow getting into an extended explanation as to how it mainly pitched out-of-town porn stars with gigantic tits – and I mean behemoth – their main act was that they’d altered their tits to near-beach ball size.  Allen asked me if I’d ever gone and I said no.  I only knew about it from ads.  Funny, I later wound up in 3-year-retreat with a lesbian woman who lap danced there, but she, like all the local strippers there, were not of this huge tit mutated variety.

We visited a venerable queer hippie commune in the Mission that had been around since the ‘60’s.  Irving Rosenthal’s place, the “Kaliflower” commune, who also once edited Big Table (a Chicago Review splinter mag named by Kerouac) with some of the initial publishings of Beat authors .   Allen somehow managed to get Felver to wait in the car (at least for a while) just to get a break from the camera and not agitate the soft-spoken Rosenthal.  Felver eventually grew restless and knocked on the door, video camera under his t-shit like a strange bionic growth.  Needless to say, Rosenthal wasn’t fooled.  We talked about the Gulf War, how everyone he knew was against it except for Burroughs, who said, “Those Arabs, give ‘em an inch, they’ll take a mile.”  Ginsberg laughed, repeating it.  Of course, Allen knew all the political history that had led up to it, the incredible meddling we’d done in the mid-East that kept backfiring, even the father of the then-current General Schwarzkopf helping the newly enthroned Shah of Iran develop his dreaded secret police.

In a photo, Felver caught the new boyfriend with me & Ginsey in the Booksmith on Haight St.    Allen signed books at the Booksmith, so I stepped outside GinsMarcBooksmithfor some air.  I ran into McClure who was very nice to me, also waiting for Allen.  Diamond Dave, an acid fry of the good old days, came up and began holding forth on Allen like I had no idea who Allen was.  McClure smiled and said, “You may not know who you’re talking to.”  Dave looked at McClure and said, “After 40 you get your real face.”  It was a compliment for McClure, of course.  Less so for Diamond Dave, who looked like a cheery derelict, only shorted out with electricity rather than alcohol.

I went to a week of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche’s summer retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains, his new property that he’d christened Pema Osel Ling, Land of Lotus Light.  The practice was Vajrakilaya, a wrathful blue-black Buddha clutching his consort in ritual union.

The experience of Vajrakilaya was like an internal explosion of a subconscious A-bomb – I was completely roto-rootered.  I’d never practiced anything so wrathful before – and the wrath meant no prisoners were taken in the pathetic kingdom of my obscurations.  By the end of the retreat, I sobbed convulsively.  When this subsided, I stumbled up to Lama Tharchin and said “Will you formerly accept me as your student?”  “Absolutely,” he said, and then eyeing my obvious terror that I had just married him in a psychic shotgun wedding, he softened it with “I will help however I can.”

I was so enthusiastic, I wrote Allen if he would do a benefit for Tharchin Rinpoche to help pay off the retreat land.  I misspelled my new lama’s name, and this misspelling would find its way into Allen’s poem, “Death and Fame.”  Lama Tharchin Rinpoche remembered meeting Allen in Spokane, Washington some years back.  “A nice guy.”  Allen, like meeting Trungpa in India, had no memory of it.  Still, Allen agreed to the benefit.  Allen would be here again in December anyway.  Everything went very well in the planning stages, including booking local club DNA Lounge, until he called me the day before the event, short of breath.  He had “mild congestive heart failure,” he said, “not life-threatening,” but he “had fluid around the lungs” and had checked himself into a hospital.

Of course, relatively speaking, all Hell broke loose.  A reporter called me, and I had my first experience of how an extremely low-key conversation, “off the record,” literally became national news.  I told the reporter what Allen said to me.  I was quoted again and again across the country.

Bob Rosenthal, Ginsberg’s longtime secretary, gave me a lot of shit about leaking this to the press without Allen’s direct authorization (a statement for Lucien Carr to release had been in the works), saying, “You won’t get famous that way, Marc.”  But Allen later said that it was a “tasteful and accurate” response.

–photos copyright Chris Felver


Beat Memoir # 9: The Punk & The Lama By Marc Olmsted

Posted in Beat Memior, Marc Olmsted with tags , on November 25, 2012 by Scot

gaps in suffering


big as Mt. Fuji

 chatting with

  the Buddhist nuns

      over tea


Now I was a punk writer, age 35, living with a Tibetan lama, recovering from Hollywood and alcoholism in a San Francisco late 80’s landscape of rock clubs, tattoos, piercings, 12-step meetings and personal ads.

I came back to my room after a visit to the nearby Haight.  Christiane had shoved a note under the door, another resident of the Center who was French, into Burroughs – really sharp Buddhist student.  Allen Ginsberg, was coming to town for a book signing!  This seemed incredibly auspicious, it was just two weeks since I was back in town and three years since Allen had been in San Francisco.  Made me feel confident in my move out of Hollywood and my efforts to restore myself as poet, for Allen had helped get me published in a few prestigious journals and had been a longtime champion and teacher.  I had nearly stopped writing poetry at all age 20 when I met him, frustrated with a college scene that wasn’t particularly supportive of the shaggy aesthetic I was offering, directly out of the tradition of writers like Jack Kerouac, but without the refinement that would come with Allen Ginsberg’s tutelage.

And now Allen was coming into town, our sexual relationship over for 8 years, our friendship intact.  I had broken off sex when I moved in with Gretchen and never resumed it in the horror of AIDS.

Above all, he had taught me Buddhist meditation, awareness of the outbreath dissolving into space.  We had sat together naked in his San Francisco room.  It began my interest – I was at the Meditation Center because of him.  Bill Voigt was in 3 year retreat because of him, though never slept with him, but studied poetry at Naropa, the Buddhist writing college Ginsberg helped found in Boulder.

Ginsberg would be reading at the Jewish Community Center and I got Christiane the French writer to accompany me.  First thing I saw was author Michael McClure, who looked remarkably fit after his last boozy appearance.  Turned out he’d quit coke and had either stopped the drinking or cut back considerably.  McClure was amazingly handsome – even James Dean might not have made such a stately appearance in his 50s if he’d survived.  “You look great,” I said, having met him a number of times.  “So do you,” meaning he liked my ninja flattop.  I briefly talked to Ginsberg beforehand and he saw that I got into the event free.  As usually, people swarmed him.  What a good feeling to see his bald pate again, like an emanation of the writing muse come to reassure me – it’s o.k. to be a poet – fuck Hollywood – we’ll work something out.
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