By George Stanley | November 30, 2004

don’t call up phantoms.
They hang around,

drinking your beer,
sprawled on the couch in their underwear,
pretending to read the Economist.


I sent this poem to Stan.  He e-mailed back:
“Wanking” is British.  How about “jacking off”?

I defended “wanking” as “matter-of-fact.”

(To me, “jacking off” reeked
of adolescent puritanical shame & defiance.)


I went to the library.  There, on the New Non-Fiction shelf
was Ginsberg’s Death & Fame. In a poem titled “Jacking Off,”
Ginsberg, 70, regales himself with phantoms:

“Who showed up?”  Joe S., Huck, “Tom G.
big cocked passed through my dream bed, didn’t stay . . .
“Ah John got you . . . leather handcuffs & strap
binding hand & feet helpless,
Leather collar roped to the bedstead’s head . . .
Spank good & hard, slap his ass /  let him writhe . . .

“So came on that unfamiliar fear
savage control over
Adonis body, willing
eager — bound to be true.”


The shame & defiance I feel
are my own, not language’s —

— and to be so dismissive,
nay, intolerant, of the phantoms —

helpless (yes!) half-beings
that one must oneself be

a half-being
to touch



Vancouver, Dec. 1, 2004


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