Overtime: Selected Poems [NOOK Book]


Like his college roommate Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen took both poetry and Zen seriously. He became friends with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Michael McClure, and played a key role in the explosive poetic revolution of the '50s and '60s. Celebrated for his wisdom and good humor, Whalen transformed the poem for a generation. His writing, taken as a whole, forms a monumental stream of consciousness (or, as Whalen calls it, "continuous nerve movie") of a wild, deeply read, and fiercely independent American—one ...
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Overtime: Selected Poems

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Like his college roommate Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen took both poetry and Zen seriously. He became friends with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Michael McClure, and played a key role in the explosive poetic revolution of the '50s and '60s. Celebrated for his wisdom and good humor, Whalen transformed the poem for a generation. His writing, taken as a whole, forms a monumental stream of consciousness (or, as Whalen calls it, "continuous nerve movie") of a wild, deeply read, and fiercely independent American—one who refuses to belong, who celebrates and glorifies the small beauties to be found everywhere he looks. This long-awaited Selected Poems is a welcome opportunity to hear his influential voice again.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101177112
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/1/1999
  • Series: Poets, Penguin
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,347,761
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Philip Whalen spent fifteen years of formal Zen training in Santa Fe and San Francisco. He is currently the Abbot of Hartford Street Zen Center in San Francisco.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Road-Runner


Thin long bird
      with a taste for snakes' eyes
Frayed tail, wildcat claws
His pinions are bludgeons.

Few brains, topped
By a crown
And a flair for swift in-fighting—
Try to take it from him.

Homage to Lucretius

It all depends on how fast you're going
Tending towards light, sound
Or the quiet of mere polarity

Objects: Slowness

      A walking sieve
Wide-open and nowhere
The mountains themselves
Picked up into turnips, trees
Wander as bones, nails, horns

And we want crystals,
Given a handful of mercury
      (Which can be frozen into a pattern vulnerable to body heat)

The notion intimidates us
We can't easily imagine another world
This one being barely
      We lined up and pissed in a snowbank
      A slight thaw would expose
      Three tubes of yellow ice

And so on ...
A world not entirely new
But realized,
The process clarified
Blessyour little pointed head!

"Plus Ça Change ..."

What are you doing?

I am coldly calculating.

I didn't ask for a characterization.
Tell me what we're going to do.

That's what I'm coldly calculating.

You had better say "plotting" or "scheming"
You never could calculate without a machine.

Then I'm brooding. Presently
A plot will hatch.

Who are trying to kid?

Be nice.


Listen. Whatever we do from here on out
Let's for God's sake not look at each other
Keep our eyes shut and the lights turned off—
We won't mind touching if we don't have to see.

I'll ignore those preposterous feathers.

Say what you please, we brought it all on ourselves
But nobody's going out of his way to look.

Who'd recognize us now?

We'll just pretend we're used to it.
(Watch out with that goddamned tail!)

Pull the shades down. Turn off the lights.
Shut your eyes.


There is no satisfactory explanation.
You can talk until you're blue

Just how much bluer can I get?

Well, save breath you need to cool

Will you please shove the cuttlebone a little closer?

All right, until the perfumes of Arabia

Grow cold. Ah! Sunflower seeds!

Will you listen, please? I'm trying to make
A rational suggestion. Do you mind?

Certainly not. Just what shall we tell the children?

If You're So Smart, Why Ain't
You Rich?

I need everything else
Anything else
But I have nothing
Shall have nothing
      but this
Immediate, inescapable
      and invaluable
No one can afford
Being made here and now

(Seattle, Washington
         17 May, 1955)


Concise (wooden)
Behind them, the garage door
(Paint sold under a fatuous name:
"Old Rose"
      which brings a war to mind)

And the mind slides over the fence again
Orange against pink and green

Returned of its own accord
It can explain nothing
Give no account

What good? What worth?

You have less than a second
      To live
To try to explain:
Say that light
      in particular wave-lengths
      or bundles wobbling at a given speed
Produces the experience
Orange against pink

Better than a sirloin steak?
A screen by Korin?

The effect of this, taken internally
The effect
      of beauty
               on the mind

There is no equivalent, least of all
These objects
Which ought to manifest
A surface disorientation, pitting
Or striae
Admitting some plausible interpretation

But the cost
Can't be expressed in numbers
Dodging between
      a vagrancy rap
      and the newest electrical brain-curette
Eating what the rich are bullied into giving
Or the poor willingly share
Depriving themselves

More expensive than ambergris
      Although the stink
           isn't as loud. (A few

Wise men have said,
      "Produced the same way ...
      Vomited out by sick whales.")
Valuable for the same qualities
      Staying-power and penetration
I've squandered every crying dime.
Seattle 17-18:v:55
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Table of Contents

The Road-Runner 1
Homage to Lucretius 2
"Plus Ca Change ..." 3
If You're So Smart, Why Ain't You Rich? 5
The Slop Barrel: Slices of the Paideuma for All Sentient Beings 8
Sourdough Mountain Lookout 15
Further Notice 21
Souffle 22
Literary Life in the Golden West 27
10:x:57, 45 Years Since the Fall of the Ch'ing Dynasty 28
For My Father 29
Metaphysical Insomnia Jazz. Mumonkan xxix 30
20:vii:58, On Which I Renounce the Notion of Social Responsibility 31
Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis 32
Complaint: To the Muse 33
Prose Take-Out, Portland, 13:ix:58 35
Self-Portrait Sad, 22:ix:58 36
Something Nice About Myself 41
Take, 25:iii:59 42
A Distraction Fit 43
Haiku for Mike 44
Address to the Boobus, with her Hieratic Formulas in Reply 45
Boobus Hierophante, Her Incantations 47
To the Moon 48
Song for 2 Balalaikas on the Corner of 3rd & Market 49
Since You Ask Me 50
To a Poet 51
An Irregular Ode 52
Haiku, for Gary Snyder 53
A Vision of the Bodhisattvas 54
Dream 55
Historical Disquisitions 56
Dream & Excursus, Arlington Massachusetts 60
For Albert Saijo 62
Homage to Rodin 63
The Daydream 69
That One 70
Vector Analysis 71
One of My Favorite Songs Is Stormy Weather 72
Friendship Greetings 73
Early Autumn in Upper Noe Valley 74
The Chariot 75
Song to Begin Rohatsu 76
Spring Musick 77
For Brother Antoninus 78
Life and Death and a Letter to My Mother Beyond Them Both 79
Plums, Metaphysics, an Investigation, a Visit, and a Short Funeral Ode 85
Three Mornings 90
Raging Desire &c 91
The Fourth of October, 1963 92
Inside Stuff 93
Native Speech 94
Composition 95
The Lotus Sutra, Naturalized 96
Early Spring 97
The Metaphysical Town Hall and Bookshop 98
The Ode to Music 99
Goddess 103
True Confessions 104
The Preface 105
Bleakness, Farewell 106
Homage to William Seward Burroughs 113
Dear Mr. President 115
Japanese Tea Garden Golden Gate Park in Spring 116
"A Penny for the Old Guy" 117
Mahayana 118
Love Love Love Again 119
April Showers Bring Rain? 120
A Morning Walk 122
"The Sun Rises and Sets in That Child," so my grandmother used to say 123
"California Is Odius but Indispensable" 124
Imagination of the Taj Mahal 125
T/O 126
That Eyes! Those Nose! 128
M 129
The Life of Literature 130
America! 131
Giant Sequoias 132
L'Enfant Prodigue 133
Good News and Gospel 134
Palimpsest 135
Labor Day 136
Sad Song 137
Lemon Trees 138
EAMD 139
Walking 140
3 Days Ago 141
5th Position 142
Ginkakuji Michi 143
Sanjusangendo 144
Crowded 145
White River Ode 146
A Revolution 148
The War Poem for Diane di Prima 149
The Garden 155
Confession and Penance 157
The Grand Design 158
Success Is Failure 163
The Winter 164
The Winter for Burton Watson 165
"NEFAS" 170
All of it went on the wrong page 171
The Dharma Youth League 172
Failing 173
A Romantic & Beautiful Poem Inspired by the Recollection of William Butler Yeats, His Life & Work 174
International Date Line, Monday / Monday 27:XI:67 175
America Inside & Outside Bill Brown's House in Bolinas 176
Life in the City. In Memoriam Edward Gibbon 178
Allegorical Painting: Capitalistic Society Destroyed by the Contradictions Within Itself. (Second Five-Year Plan.) 180
To the Revolutionary Cadres of Balboa, Malibu & Santa Barbara 181
Duerden's Garage, Stinson Beach 183
Walking Beside the Kamogawa, Remembering Nansen and Fudo and Gary's Poem 185
Behind the Door 186
Life at Bolinas. The Last of California 188
Birthday Poem 191
Excerpts from "Scenes of Life at the Capital" 207
Many Colored Squares 221
"Up in Michigan" 223
"Old Age Echoes" 224
The Letter to Thomas Clark 22:VII:71 from Bolinas where He Sat beside Me to Help to Write It 225
"Horrible Incredible Lies": Keith Lampe Spontaneously 226
Imaginary Splendors 227
Public Opinions 228
Monument Rescue Dim 229
The Turn 230
Look Look Look 231
"I Told Myself": Bobbie Spontaneously 232
Growing and Changing 233
October First 236
Occasional Dilemmas 239
Ode for You 240
Alleyway 242
In the Night 243
"Stolen and Abandoned" 245
Tassajara 247
The Universal & Susquehanna Mercy Co. Dayton, O. 248
Message 250
High-tension on Low-pressure Non-accomplishment Blues 251
Mask 252
Detachment, Wisdom and Compassion 253
Money Is the Roost of All Eagles 254
"The Conditions That Prevail" 255
The Talking Picture 256
Dream Poems 257
Murals Not Yet Dreamed 258
The Vision of Delight 259
Luxury in August 260
How to Be Successful & Happy Without Anybody Else Finding Out About It 261
Compulsive Obligatory Paranoia Flashes 263
For Clark Coolidge 264
The Radio Again 265
Somebody Else's Problem Bothers Me 266
Bead 267
Defective Circles 268
Obsolete Models 269
Many Pages Must Be Thrown Away 270
The Congress of Vienna 271
To the Memory Of 273
"Past Ruin'd Ilion" 274
Tears and Recriminations 275
Discriminations 276
Homage to St. Patrick, Garcia Lorca, & the Itinerant Grocer 277
What About It? 278
Treading More Water 279
Treading Water 280
What? Writing in the Dining Room? 283
What's New? 284
Violins in Chaos? 286
The Bay Trees Were About to Bloom 287
Dying Tooth Song 288
Rich Interior, After Thomas Mann 289
Chanson d'Outre Tombe 290
Hot Springs Infernal in the Human Beast 291
Homage to Hart Crane 292
What Are You Studying, These Days? 293
Dharmakaya 294
Some of These Days 295
Epigrams & Imitations 300
For Allen, on His 60th Birthday 302
Bibliography 303
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