Peter Orlovsky
Four Poems

Frist Poem | Second Poem | My Bed is Covered Yellow | Snail Poem


Peter Orlovsky was best known as Allen Ginsberg's lover and companion of almost three decades, from about the fifties to the seventies. What is less well known is that he was a wonderful poet in his own right. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and antholologies. Peter died May 30, 2010 at the age of 76.



Orlovsky was the kind of natural voice W.C.W. believed America would one day sound. I remember him praising Peter's first poem: "Nothing English about it -- pure American." That was twenty years ago. Now, twenty years hence, Peter has voiced a volume of poems, pure Americana, and unlike any American sound. Bucolic and sexual, these poems are replicate of his farmer produce (organic and natural) and of his love for the male and female of his heart's desire.

     He hails the human asshole as divine -- He offers humankind an anatomical compassion for that bodiy part long maligned, shame-wracked, and poetically neglect.
Keep it clean in between
is a golden define of self-respect. The angel without wings is with asshole a reality. The angel with wings is a painted thing, a dream. The dual asshole: bucolic and sexual. What comes out, he believes, aught benefit the fields not the seas, aught fertilize not pollute -
     What goes in, he lauds as a variable of sex not solely of homosexual kind -
     The lovers of callipygian joy are universal.

     Peter is an original; a refined spirit ... regard: 'neath his poetic capote nothing primitive holds claim - An agricultural romantic, the Shellean farmer astride his Pegasusian tractor re-poems the earth with trees of berry and roots of honey; whose dirtian hands scribe verses of soy, odes of harvest; whose hymns to redolent shovels of manure nourish the fields that so nourish us, both in body meal and thc cosmetics of soul.

Gregory Corso
San Francisco
October 19, 1977


Biographical note

"My biography was born July 1933. Grew up with dirty feet & giggles. Cant stand dust so pick my nose. Trouble in school: always thinking dreaming sad mistry problems. Quit high school in middle of last term & got lost working in Mental hospital old man's bed slopy ward. Love pretzles & cant remember dreams anymore. Will somebody please buy me mountain with a cave up there. I dont speack any more. Wanted to be a farmer went to high school for that & worked hard, hard, I tell you, very hard, you'd be amazed. Did weight lifting with bus stops. Got to enjoy burnt bacon with mothers help. Stare at my feet to much & need to undue paroniac suden clowds. Enjoy mopping floors, cleaning up cat vommit. Enjoy swinning underwater. I want the moon for fun. Getting to enjoy blank mind state, especially in tub. This summer got to like flies tickleing nose & face. I demand piss be sold on the market, it would help people to get to know eachother. I.Q. 90 in school, now specialized I.Q. is thousands."

Peter Orlovsky
The New American Poetry 1945-1960
copyright © 1960 by Donald M. Allen


A note on spellings.

I've seen "Frist Poem" spelled "First Poem" a couple of times. One web page I've come across, which appears to have copied the contents of this page, "corrected" the title of this poem. I didn't look to see if other "corrections" were made.

Peter couldn't spell. Or, let's look at it another way. This is how Peter spelled. I'm assuming that most publishers of his work attempted to keep his own spellings intact. I believe Peter's spelling rendered his thoughts accurately.

Once, in Peter and Allen's apartment I was leaving a message for Allen, who was away. Peter was writing down my message which happened to contain the words "two thieves". Peter wrote down "two thives" and I said, "No, it's spelled T - H - I - E . . . " etc. Another visitor who happened to be present almost leapt for my throat saying, in effect, "How dare you correct Peter's spelling?" This, in my opinion, is going too far.

Brian Nation


A rainbow comes pouring into my window, I am electrified. 
Songs burst from my breast, all my crying stops, mistory fills 
    the air. 
I look for my shues under my bed. 
A fat colored woman becomes my mother. 
I have no false teeth yet. Suddenly ten children sit on my lap. 
I grow a beard in one day. 
I drink a hole bottle of wine with my eyes shut. 
I draw on paper and I feel I am two again. I want everybody to 
    talk to me. 
I empty the garbage on the tabol. 
I invite thousands of bottles into my room, June bugs I call them. 
I use the typewritter as my pillow. 
A spoon becomes a fork before my eyes. 
Bums give all their money to me. 
All I need is a mirror for the rest of my life. 
My frist five years I lived in chicken coups with not enough 
My mother showed her witch face in the night and told stories of 
    blue beards. 
My dreams lifted me right out of my bed. 
I dreamt I jumped into the nozzle of a gun to fight it out with a 
I met Kafka and he jumped over a building to get away from me. 
My body turned into sugar, poured into tea I found the meaning 
    of life 
All I needed was ink to be a black boy. 
I walk on the street looking for eyes that will caress my face. 
I sang in the elevators believing I was going to heaven. 
I got off at the 86th floor, walked down the corridor looking for 
    fresh butts. 
My comes turns into a silver dollar on the bed. 
I look out the window and see nobody, I go down to the street, 
    look up at my window and see nobody. 
So I talk to the fire hydrant, asking "Do you have bigger tears 
    then I do?" 
Nobody around, I piss anywhere. 
My Gabriel horns, my Gabriel horns: unfold the cheerfulies, 
    my gay jubilation.

Nov. 24th, 1957, Paris

Morning again, nothing has to be done, 
                    maybe buy a piano or make fudge.
At least clean the room up for sure like my farther I've done flick 
                  the ashes & butts over the bed side on the floor.
But frist of all wipe my glasses and drink the water 
                   to clean the smelly mouth.
A nock on the door, a cat walks in, behind her the Zoo's baby 
    elephant demanding fresh pancakes-I cant stand these
    hallucinations aney more.
Time for another cigerette and then let the curtains rise, then I 
    knowtice the dirt makes a road to the garbage pan 
No ice box so a dried up grapefruit.
Is there any one saintly thing I can do to my room, paint it pink 
      maybe or instal an elevator from the bed to the floor,
      maybe take a bath on the bed?
Whats the use of liveing if I cant make paradise in my own 
For this drop of time upon my eyes
like the endurance of a red star on a cigerate
makes me feel life splits faster than sissors.
I know if I could shave myself the bugs around my face would 
     disappear forever.
The holes in my shues are only temporary, I understand that.
My rug is dirty but whose that isent?
There comes a time in life when everybody must take a piss in 
    the sink -here let me paint the window black for a minute.
Thro a plate & brake it out of naughtiness-or maybe just 
    innocently accidentally drop it wile walking around the 
Before the mirror I look like a sahara desert gost, 
     or on the bed I resemble a crying mummey hollaring for air, 
     or on the tabol I feel like Napoleon.
But now for the main task of the day - wash my underwear - 
     two months abused - what would the ants say about that?
How can I wash my clothes - why I'd, I'd, I'd be a woman if I did 
No, I'd rather polish my sneakers than that and as for the floor 
     its more creative to paint it then clean it up.
As for the dishes I can do that for I am thinking of getting a job in 
     a lunchenette.
My life and my room are like two huge bugs following me 
     around the globe.
Thank god I have an innocent eye for nature.
I was born to remember a song about love - on a hill a butterfly 
     makes a cup that I drink from, walking over a bridge of

Dec. 27th, 1957, Paris

My Bed is Covered Yellow

       My bed is covered yellow - Oh Sun, I sit on you
Oh golden field I lay on you
Oh money I dream of you
       More, More, cried the bed - talk to me more -
Oh bed that taked the weight of the world -
       all the lost dreams laid on you
Oh bed that grows no hair, that cannot be fucked
       or can be fucked
Oh bed crumbs of all ages spiled on you
Oh yellow bed march to the sun whear yr journey will be done
Oh 50 lbs. of bed that takes 400 more lbs-
       how strong you are
Oh bed, only for man & not for animals
       yellow bed when will the animals have equal rights?
Oh 4 legged bed off the floor forever built
Oh yellow bed all the news of the world
       lay on you at one time or another

1957, Paris

Snail Poem

Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired
       & handsome felt,
Grave root pillow, tung up from grave & wigle at
       blown up clowd.
Ear turnes close to underlayer of green felt moss & sound
       of rain dribble thru this layer
       down to the roots that will tickle my ear.
Hay grave, my toes need cutting so file away
       in sound curve or
Garbage grave, way above my head, blood will soon
       trickle in my ear -
       no choise but the grave, so cat & sheep are daisey
Train will tug my grave, my breath hueing gentil vapor
       between weel & track.
So kitten string & ball, jumpe over this mound so
       gently & cutely
So my toe can curl & become a snail & go curiousely
       on its way.

1958 NYC

From Clean Asshole Poems & Smiling Vegetable Songs, Pocket Poets Series #37, City Lights Books ©1978 by Peter Orlovsky.