Beat News: November 4 1998

The poet Ray Bremser has died. Mike Buchenroth posted this poem to the ‘subterraneans‘ mailing list in tribute:


by Ray Bremser

. . .
we took the first road on our left,
pointed ourselfs to the gulf
& fled thru the falling valleys into
the tropic & lowland plains,

where the jaguar retches & Panfillo
Navarez got his copper-sheathed ass
nipped at, after the crocs & moccasined
Zipotecan active cannibals, who
tip their stings & darts w/curare,
found cause for concern with the
obsidian barbarians the whole

conquistadores were . . .
the truck makes a racous
clattering up rocky roads,
picking up gears
on into the rarified heights–
10 thousand feet up the mountain
which delayed Malinche
on his freaked-out march to

kill & capture the aztec empire,
destroy all the toltec art,
smach the olmec urns & statuary,
all in museums now / little bits and pieces
for man to contemplate their lost glory,
much like the dinosaurs —

up this very same road, under these very same stars,

when it was jungle below & a forest of
tropical fruits above.

& even then, a way, way up in the blue-black site,
hovering at the perigee, ten thousand warm young
tropical breezes,
kissed the conquerors fingers, old fingers
& i’ll come back, born again . . .

i always have,
come back . . .

i’ll come back from the dark.
i’ll be different & new.
or the same & old,
but i’ll be me.

born again always,

always me
born again born again
born again!

(Copyright 1998 Ray Bremser. Reprinted with permission of Water Row Press)

Yesterday, as Ray Bremser lay dying in a Utica (upstate New York) hospital, Ray’s friend and fellow poet Charlie Plymell e-mailed me this poem, which I hope he doesn’t mind me posting here.

November 3, 1998 Dark Afternoon

and the clouds are heavy metal
rolling oe’r the vacant brick of Utica
where Ray lies in his death throes
at the Faxton Cancer Hospital.

It’s not a happy sight, a
finality about the rooms and service

his roommate’s exposed privates
both he and Ray seem far away.

In and out of sensed reality
I fear to say, eyes like animals in cages
Ray’s eyes sometimes intense
screaming “I want to die”
not in a philosophical mode
but the growl used for prison guards

rattling his bones against the
iron bars of New Jersey.

Squirts of daylight on the sidewalk
like used rubber gloves thrown
among the slimy Autumn leaves
Study the sight, oh latter night Beats.

Another is passing into the night
like T.V. tonight Jimmy Smit

on NYPD the line of fictive reality
unto death, what to do with life’s purpose?
If it’s to understand life (loved the old comedies)
from those eyes just make ourselves over
Ray watch the old realities in black and white
He pulls on the bed rails : “I want to die.”
His eyebrows move and he briefly conducts
a conversation he can’t partake in
or a Katchaturian concert or a poem.

He leans back, eyes glazed, goes elsewhere
further than shooting up decades ago
the history gone like our rides for Terpin hydrate
finding village drugstores while the world went on.

What history can a human have. The history gone
the religions, the politics, the last fiction…not that
Faith, miracles, and belief isn’t real
there’s just never enough to go around.

Ray Bremser was born on February 22, 1934 in Jersey City.

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