Monday’s Verse 7/10/2017 Founder’s Birthday Addition

From: Sara Cohan
Date: 2017-07-10 3:01 GMT-04:00
Subject: Monday’s Verse 7/10/2017 Founder’s Birthday Addition
To: Matthew Lamberti

Dear MV Readers,

Our esteemed founder and weekly leader of MV was born today in 1971. Some of you have been his friend since the earliest of days and others have gratefully found him along the way.

Matt and I met during the summer of 1991. We were both working in a soup kitchen in my hometown. We were rising sophomores with an eye towards service and recently discovered passions for the Beatniks. We had read On the Road and he introduced me to Dharma Bums–a book that changed the way I looked at the world. It changed the way I viewed rhyme, rhythm and how to live.

For my birthday that summer (a few days before his), he gave me a carnation, pink goggles (my new rose-colored glasses) and a matching pink balloon which I could inflate if drowning so that I would rise to the surface. The last two items were passed on to me from Matt via Che, a homeless man that frequented the kitchen. Matt had taken to spending the occasional night sleeping in one of our downtown parks with many of the men we served every morning. I keep the goggles, balloon and a stack of old letters from Matt in my fire proof box. They remind me that if I ever start to drown, I have been given the tools needed to save myself.

For Matt’s birthday, we went to a new Japanese restaurant not far from his park. After dinner, we checked out a show at our local hipster dive bar. We saw the Jody Grind and they were just the band we needed to see to show us that the energy of the Beat Generation was not only still present in our generation but maybe even more powerful. The lead singer, Kelly Hogan, sang with such force. It might have been a hundred degrees that night and even hotter inside the little cement bar. Kelly yelled to the owner to bring a knife to the stage. He obliged and then she asked his to cut off her pig tails. He obliged again and nailed them to the wall of the bar. We were overwhelmed– ecstatic that life was going in such wild directions for us and we were ready to be a part of it all.

We have all been and continue to be transformed by our friend. He is our Bodhi and we are so appreciative for all that he gives to us and this world.

We love you Matt-

Sunflower Sutra


I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.

Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.

The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.

Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust—

—I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past—and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye—corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb, leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear, Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!

The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives, all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these

entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!

A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!

How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul?

Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!

And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!

So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,

and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,

—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.

Berkeley, 1955


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