“Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative …”
I came home and found a lion in my living room
Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion!
Two stenographers pulled their brunette hair and banged the window shut
I hurried home to Paterson and stayed two days.
Called up my old Reichian analyst
who’d kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana
‘It’s happened’ I panted ‘There’s a Lion in my room’
‘I’m afraid any discussion would have no value’ he hung up.
I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend
I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye
We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow & he kicked me out
I ended masturbating in his jeep parked in the street moaning ‘Lion.’
Found Joey my novelist friend and roared at him ‘Lion!’
He looked at me interested and read me his spontaneous ignu high poetries
I listened for lions all I heard was Elephant Tiglon Hippogriff Unicorn Ants
But figured he really understood me when we made it in Ignaz Wisdom’s bathroom.
But next day he sent me a leaf from his Smoky Mountain retreat
‘I love you little Bo-Bo with your delicate golden lions
But there being no Self and No Bars therefore the Zoo of your dear Father hath no Lion
You said your mother was mad don’t expect me to produce the Monster for your Bridegroom.’
Confused dazed and exalted bethought me of real lion starved in his stink in Harlem
Opened the door the room was filled with the bomb blast of his anger
He roaring hungrily at the plaster walls but nobody could hear him outside thru the window
My eye caught the edge of the red neighbor apartment building standing in deafening stillness
We gazed at each other his implacable yellow eye in the red halo of fur
Waxed rheumy on my own but he stopped roaring and bared a fang greeting.
I turned my back and cooked broccoli for supper on an iron gas stove
boilt water and took a hot bath in the old tub under the sink board.
He didn’t eat me, tho I regretted him starving in my presence.
Next week he wasted away a sick rug full of bones wheaten hair falling out
enraged and reddening eye as he lay aching huge hairy head on his paws
by the egg-crate bookcase filled up with thin volumes of Plato, & Buddha.
Sat by his side every night averting my eyes from his hungry motheaten face
stopped eating myself he got weaker and roared at night while I had nightmares
Eaten by lion in bookstore on Cosmic Campus, a lion myself starved by Professor Kandisky, dying in a lion’s flophouse circus,
I woke up mornings the lion still added dying on the floor—‘Terrible Presence!’ I cried ‘Eat me or die!’
It got up that afternoon—walked to the door with its paw on the wall to steady its trembling body
Let out a soul-rending creak from the bottomless roof of his mouth
thundering from my floor to heaven heavier than a volcano at night in Mexico
Pushed the door open and said in a gravelly voice “Not this time Baby—but I will be back again.”
Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger
Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the Universe how am I chosen
In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served
Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your Mercy.
The Lion for Real By Allen Ginsberg
Paris, March 1958