All We Need is Love

"The Love Nut" is one of several excellent poems in the second half of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Wild Dreams of New Beginnings. Strangely enough I chose this one to discuss because it is probably the only poem in the book that really makes me uncomfortable and unsure whether I agree with its position or not..

The Love Nut

I go into the men’s room Springfield bus station
on the way back to Muhlenberg County
and see this nut in the mirror
Who let in this weirdo Who let in this creep?

He’s the kind writes I LOVE YOU on toilet walls and wants to embrace everybody in the lobby He writes his phone number inside a heart on the wall He’s some kinda pervert Mister Eros the Great Lover

He wants to run up to everybody in the waiting room and kiss them on the spot and say Why aren’t we friends and lovers Can I go home with you You got anything to drink or smoke Let’s you and me get together The time is now or sooner

He wants to take all the stray dogs and cats and people home with him and turn them on to making love all the time wherever

He wants to scatter poems from airplanes across the landscape He’s some kinda poetic nut Like he thinks he’s Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan rolled together with Charlie Chaplin thrown in

He wants to lip-read everybody’s thoughts and feelings and longings He’s a dangerous nut He’s gotta be insane He has no sense of sin

He wants to heat up all the dead-looking people the unhappylooking people in bus stations and airports He wants to heat up their beds He wants to open their bodies and heads

He’s some kinda airhead rolling stone lie don’t wanna be alone He may be queer on men

He’s the kind addresses everybody on buses making them laugh and look away and then look back again

He wants to get everyone to burst out laughing and sighing and crying and singing and dancing and kissing each other including old ladies and policemen

He’s gotta be mad He’s so glad to be alive he’s real strange He’s got the hots for humanity one at a time He wants to kiss your breasts he wants to lie still between them singing in a low voice

He wants everyone to lie down together and roll around together moaning and singing and having visions and orgasms He wants to come in you He wants you to come with him He wants us all to come together One hot world One heartbeat

He wants he wants us all to lie down together in Paradise in the Garden of Love in the Garden of Delights and couple together like a train a chain-reaction a chain-letter-of-love around the world on hot nights

He wants he wants he wants! He’s gotta be crazy Call the cops Take him away!

Though I’m not quite sure why, I like this poem because it makes me feel very uncomfortable. It’s as if it touches some truth about myself that I don’t really want to accept.

Even though Ginsberg’s name doesn’t appear anywhere in this poem, I’m absolutely convinced that the poem is, indeed, about him. Now, I admit I may feel this way because I’ve just immersed myself in his poems for a few days and I haven’t quite figured out why his message doesn’t appeal to me.

However, this description nearly perfectly fits the obituary notice that wood s lot quotes:

Ginsberg’s New York Times obituary, April 6, 1997

…as the narrator in Saul Bellow’s ”Him With His Foot in His Mouth” said of Mr. Ginsberg: ”Under all this self-revealing candor is purity of heart. And the only authentic living representative of American Transcendentalism is that fat-breasted, bald, bearded homosexual in smeared goggles, innocent in his uncleanness.” (…)

Unfortunately, I fit the description of the poem’s narrator a little closer than I would like to. I probably wouldn’t actually call the cops (the guy’s just a harmless nut, after all), but I’m sure I would want someone to "Take him away," if just away from me.

It’s embarassing to consider how much more accepting Ferlinghetti is than I am. I suddenly feel as if I am judging people by the Hemingway Code, or is it the Webster Code? I judge the old man by the same standards I would judge myself by. Since I would never behave this way, I don’t want him to behave this way around me.

Is it because I have so little faith in the power of LOVE? Is it because I think he has confused LOVE with sex? perverted sex, at that?

Sometimes it’s best not to feel too confident in our views or too comfortable with how we feel about others. It takes an excellent poem, though, to make us raise important questions about ourselves that we want to, or need to, answer.