atalie Jackson's fall last year from the roof of the building where she and Neal lived, came forward in my consciousness as I began to sketch for the large memorial portrait of the writers central to the scene that Ginsberg had created in San Francisco. Natalie had been so central to all our lives for her short year with us that she seemed an integral part of any record of the time. It was somehow her spirit, only one of all the dead I already knew by then, that ultimately suffused the final painting.


Study of Foster's Cafeteria 1956


On the floor inside my room at the Wentley is a little brown paper bag containing six peyote buds that has been thrown through the transom above my door. I know what they are, because there is a note from Allen and Peter near them that's told me how to prepare them. Allen writes to take them with ice cream. I had no money for ice cream and I liked raw potatoes which the note likened to their taste, so I sliced them thin and ate them with tea. Let me tell you, peyote tastes only very remotely like potatoes.

That trip was very low level. Inexperience led me to expect more and fail to fully understand the wonderful subtlety of the things that were happening. I remember the sound of Mexican banana leaves scratching one another in warm breezes. There are gigantic red lips, flexing like soft lipsticked muscles, speaking to me silently from a dark tropical landscape, throbbing in the space of their own picture plane. I think I hear Philip Lamantia, who lives next door, drumming on air surreal with the rhythm of his poems.


FOSTERS CAFETERIA                        1956


Today, January 12, 2001, I call Ira Cohen in Minnesota where he’s gone to sit with Gregory Corso, ailing from cancer and being cared for by his newfound daughter, Sheri. We talk, the first time since New York of 1998 for dinner at the presentation of AH Allen , Anna Condo’s memorial book to endow the Ginsberg Scholarships at Naropa Institute. How well he looked then in his velvet suit. How beautiful and loving his voice sounds now, writing his way through death. He lived onward from Fosters, past twenty-nine and into Poet Wisdom!


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