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WELCOMING THE FLOWERS a poem by John Giorno (A Visit To The Poet

I am standing on the corner of Stanton and Chrystie, waiting for the traffic light to change. A man is sitting on the steps of a building holding his young son on his lap. He is eating fried chicken from Chico’s take-out on Houston. He chews on the wings and feeds bits of the breast to his son.

The man finishes eating and puts the leftover chicken and bones, french fries and soda can in a paper bag and leaves it on the sidewalk. A brown dog from a neighboring building, snoops around gets his nose in the bag, chews on the bones and makes a mess. The man hits the dog with a newspaper, and it yelps and runs away. A black cat sitting in a window, watches wide-eyed, staring down at the dog, chicken bones and gristle.

I see their past and present lives. The man eats the chicken and the chicken was his mother, who had died of cancer two years ago;

the dog chewing on the bones was his father, who had died of a heart attack five years ago; and the cat in the window was his grandmother; and his young son, whom he holds so tenderly, was the man who killed him in his previous life. His wife comes home with groceries and takes the boy into the building. She had been his lover in many past lives, and was his mother for the first time in this one. The world just makes me laugh.

Fill what is empty, empty what is full, light as body, light as breath.

Welcoming the flowers: daffodils baptized in butter, lilacs lasciviously licking the air, necklaces of wisteria bowing to magnolia mamas, the cherry blossoms are razor blades, the snow dahlias are sharp as cat piss, the lilies of the valley are lilies of fur, lilies of feather, lilies of fin, lilies of skin, the almost Miss America rose, the orchids are fat licking tongues, and they all smell so good and I am sucked into their meaty earthy goodness.

You make my heart feel warm, I lay my head on your chest and feel free, filling what is empty, emptying what is full, filling what is empty, emptying what is full, filling what is empty, emptying what is full, filling what is empty, emptying what is full, the gods we know we are, the gods we knew we were.

I smell you with my eyes, see you with my ears, feel you with my mouth, taste you with my nose, hear you with my tongue, I want you to sit in my heart, and smile.

Words come from sound, sound comes from wisdom, wisdom comes from emptiness, deep relaxation of great perfection.

Welcoming the flowers: armfuls of honey suckle and columbine, red-tipped knives of Indian paint brush, the fields of daisies are the people who betrayed me and the lupine were self-serving and unkind, the voluminous and voluptuous bougainvillea are licking fire loving what it cannot burn, the big bunch of one thousand red roses are all the people I made love to, hit my nose with stem of a rose, the poppies have pockets packed with narcotic treats, the chrysanthemums are a garland of skulls.

I go to death willingly, with the same comfort and bliss as when I lay my head on my lover’s chest.

Welcoming the flowers: the third bouquet is a crown of blue bells, a carillon of foxglove, a sunflower snuggles its head on my lap and gazes up at the sky, may all the tiny black insects crawling on the peony petals be my sons and daughters in future lives, great balls of light radiating white, red, blue concentric dazzle, yellow, green great exaltation, the world just makes me laugh.

May sound and light not rise up and appear as enemies, may I know all sound as my own sound, may I know all light as my own light, may I spontaneously know all phenomena as myself, may I realize original nature, not fabricated by mind, empty naked awareness.


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