Bill Tremblay

As his first leap into genius, Allen turned on his accusers, himself most insidiously, with the news that he was not evil in his homosexuality, showing the rest of us whatever our persuasion that closets are killers of the human soul that leave those inside them open to blackmail and self-loathing;

he howled in the voice of the pariah clown, shouting confessions that turned into indictments through the personal alchemy of bebop and street-talk, freeing us to hear him as not didactic, yet carrying in his often biblical chants and spells acts of exorcism as well as eroticism and spiritual mercy, meditations, addresses to nations, encouragement never to cease the mental fight for liberation from all dogma including his own;

he wrote the book on how to survive the shame trips endemic to puritanical societies and the murderous insanity they engender and thus wore an Uncle Sam hat in the cheap seats of the 1968 Democratic Convention, becoming our pleading cousin in the universe like William Blake, as angry senators pounded the speaker's rostrum, denouncing the outcry for peace in the streets of Chicago;

he knew that just as language is the primary tool of the witch-doctors of war and paranoia so too the poet's work is to use language to rename the world so that the bleak and battered locomotive of the soul could be seen as the radiant sunflower it really is and thus he inferred that things are symbols of themselves, not to be held in Platonic contempt for existing in solid bodies but cherished as the carriers in their own flesh of a transcendence which is at every moment here for those with eyes to see;

he put his queer shoulder to the wheel and fought the many crucifixtions of growing up defeated into apathy by the zombies of Madison Avenue and Pentagon and boardroom whose biggest lie is that they are America and he did so by embracing Whitinan's injunction to loafe and invite the soul because he knew that was his real job;

he gave us the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years and there was never a question of what he had done for us lately because a succession of twelve books issued from him over nearly five decades of unstinting labor at the fiery furnaces of inspiration and the merciful Lord of Poetry, a tough-minded and enduring refusal to give up on himself or us;

therefore we mourn, therefore we weep, not for hirn but for ourselves if we forget to partake of the spiritual sustenance he gathered into the storehouse of his poems because he was our friend, our support and comfort, our lover, the one who led by example of courage and laughter to remind us that Mind is shapely, Art is shapely, and so we say, Blest be He who leads all sorrow to Heaven!

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