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Favorite Poets - Patti Smith.


by patti smith

[from CREEM, September 1971]

great human wild animal
an outlaw
keep watch over her

I was born in Illinois...mainline of America...
beat to shit...Chicago tenement
big red eyed rats in the night...dead rats to tease at night
Morning...I waited for the organ grinder
with my nickel for the monkeys tin cup
gingerbread man...cotton candy man
bad girl setting fire to the oil cans
run like hell escape on the icemans truck
I was a limping ugly duck
but I had good luck

Mama filled me with bears danced at midnight
even my toybox had a soul
Mama called me her goat girl...little black sheep
I loved my brother and sister: Todd and Linda
we drank each others blood...we were double blood brothers
we rolled in fields...three white wolves...we practised telepathy
no one could separate us...our minds were one
One, little one eye...I had an eyepatch...I walked like a duck
In the years the nursery children cried Quack Quack
I didn't care and didn't fight back
I floated off...fantasy gave me fire...I was made of water
the moon caused tidal waves and I'd cry like a coyote

I learned to drift...magik...tarot pack
I paraded in thirty disguises
and when people laughed at my carnival family
We didn't care...We had armor:
Daddy was a tap dancer...acrobat...wild horse
tracing pornography through the bible.
Mama was the dream of every sailor...bootlegged whiskey
called spirits from evenings half moon...dream weaver
We braved hurricanes...a new baby came...I named her Kim
the neighbors were suspicious...they called us witches
we didn't care...we were laughing and dancing and damned
and there was always music
Hank Williams crying off the lonesomes
funny valentine...Patty Waters
beat of the drum...bartok
song of the swamp rat
rock and roll music
rock and roll music


On my own rhythms:
rhythm of the railroad
steamheat of the factory
Alabama blues on a migrant bus
but as a blueberry picker I failed...I dreamed too much
the berry crop mother smiled.
I ran off...I traveled...I broke down
kept running...TB trapped in the lung...spitting on the railroad track
I shook...I drank...rythum of one too many rhums
Drunk and broke down I slinked home...grabbed my sisters hand
and away we run...We took a freighter to Iceland
railway to Paris...Pigalle and wine in a black dress
I joined the fire eaters and sang in the streets...using all I learned
from Lotte Lenya...Bob Dylan...and motorcycle rock n' roll
We lived near a wishing well...milked goats...capture snails
and crawled back to New York.
New York my greatest love:
Rise of the building
flash of 42nd street...the pool halls...the hustlers
the trucks along tenth avenue
the helicopter yards
ghost of Jackson Pollock
human shit and dead dog floating on the Hudson River
moving...I kept moving
Panama...heart of adventure
the hot life of Mexico
the drunkard...the dock worker
Rythum...flash of white hair...winter
the Jesters...the Paragons
rise of the blue heron
breathe through the great rythum
scream through the Shepard
sing through that rock n' roll music
rock n' roll music
rock n' roll music
rock n' roll

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