'BOMB' by Gregory Corso

The pictorial arrangement of text on the page is part of the experience of this poem, and I've tried my best to reproduce the positioning as it appears in Corso's original, published in 1958 by City Lights.

I think this makes a very smart and original statement. To simply hate the A-Bomb and H-Bomb is easy. But the Bomb is real; we're stuck with it. As Corso says, it is 'necessary to love' the Bomb.

Corso read this poem at New College in Oxford in 1958. Many members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament were there, and they didn't appreciate Corso's humorous, ambivalent tone. He was heckled. Allen Ginsberg tried to explain what Corso was trying to express, and ended up calling the students a bunch of assholes.

This does not seem surprising, in retrospect. Politics and humor have never coexisted peacefully, at least not for long. Like many Buddhists, I'll leave the politics to others and offer my help when it's needed, and cast my own lot with humor.

                           BOMB by Gregory Corso

               Budger of history   Brake of time   You   Bomb
      Toy of universe   Grandest of all snatched sky   I cannot hate you
        Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt   the jawbone of an ass
     The bumpy club of One Million B.C.   the mace   the flail    the axe
   Catapult Da Vinci   tomahawk Cochise   flintlock Kidd   dagger Rathbone
    Ah and the sad desparate gun of Verlaine   Pushkin   Dillinger   Bogart
 And hath not St. Michael a burning sword   St. George a lance   David a sling
 Bomb   you are as cruel as man makes you   and you're no crueller than cancer
  All Man hates you   they'd rather die by car-crash   lightning   drowning
Falling off a roof   electric-chair  heart-attack   old age   old age   O Bomb
     They'd rather die by anything but you   Death's finger is free-lance
  Not up to man whether you boom or not   Death has long since distributed its
  categorical blue   I sing thee Bomb   Death's extravagance   Death's jubilee
   Gem of Death's supremest blue   The flyer will crash   his death will differ
    with the climbor who'll fall   to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork
Some die by swamp   some by sea  and some by the bushy-haired man in the night
   O there are deaths like witches of Arc   Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff
    No-feeling deaths like birth-death   sadless deaths like old pain Bowery
  Abandoned deaths   like Capital Punishment   stately deaths like senators
   And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx   girls on Vogue covers   my own
     I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is   I can only imagine
      Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview   I scope
      a city   New York City   streaming   starkeyed   subway shelter 
        Scores and scores   A fumble of humanity   High heels bend
            Hats whelming away   Youth forgetting their combs
          Ladies not knowing what to do   with their shopping bags
            Unperturbed gum machines   Yet dangerous 3rd rail
          Ritz Brothers   from the Bronx   caught in the A train
                The smiling Schenley poster will always smile
                   Impish death   Satyr Bomb   Bombdeath
                     Turtles exploding over Istanbul
                         The jaguar's flying foot
                        soon to sink in arctic snow
                     Penguins plunged against the Sphinx
                        The top of the Empire state
                    arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily
                 Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens
                       St. Sophia peeling over Sudan
                     O athletic Death   Sportive Bomb
                       the temples of ancient times
                         their grand ruin ceased
                      Electrons   Protons   Neutrons 
                         gathering Hersperean hair
                    walking the dolorous gulf of Arcady
                          joining marble helmsmen
                       entering the final ampitheater
                     with a hymnody feeling of all Troys
                        heralding cypressean torches
                         racing plumes and banners
                 and yet knowing Homer with a step of grace
                       Lo the visiting team of Present
                           the home team of Past
                       Lyre and tube together joined
                     Hark the hotdog soda olive grape
                      gala galaxy robed and uniformed 
                      commissary   O the happy stands
                      Ethereal root and cheer and boo
                     The billioned all-time attendance
                          The Zeusian pandemonium
                            Hermes racing Owens
                          The Spitball of Buddha
                            Christ striking out
                           Luther stealing third
                      Planeterium Death   Hosannah Bomb
                     Gush the final rose   O Spring Bomb
                     Come with thy gown of dynamite green
                       unmenace Nature's inviolate eye
                         Before you the wimpled Past
                   behind you the hallooing Future   O Bomb
                        Bound in the grassy clarion air
                         like the fox of the tally-ho
                  thy field the universe thy hedge the geo
                 Leap Bomb   bound Bomb   frolic zig and zag
                The stars a swarm of bees in thy binging bag
                      Stick angels on your jubilee feet
                    wheels of rainlight on your bunky seat
                     You are due and behold you are due
                       and the heavens are with you
                   hosanna incalescent glorious liaison
                 BOMB O havoc antiphony molten cleft BOOM
                    Bomb mark infinity a sudden furnace
                 spread thy multitudinous encompassed Sweep
                         set forth awful agenda
              Carrion stars   charnel planets   carcass elements
             Corpse the universe   tee-hee finger-in-the-mouth hop
                       over its long long dead Nor
                    From thy nimbled matted spastic eye
                    exhaust deluges of celestial ghouls
                      From thy appellational womb
                   spew birth-gusts of of great worms
                        Rip open your belly Bomb
               from your belly outflock vulturic salutations
               Battle forth your spangled hyena finger stumps
                       along the brink of Paradise
                         O Bomb   O final Pied Piper
                both sun and firefly behind your shock waltz
                          God abandoned mock-nude
                 beneath His thin false-talc's apocalypse
                        He cannot hear thy flute's
                        happy-the-day profanations
               He is spilled deaf into the Silencer's warty ear
                    His Kingdom an eternity of crude wax
                      Clogged clarions untrumpet Him
                        Sealed angels unsing Him
                      A thunderless God   A dead God
                       O Bomb   thy BOOM His tomb
                 That I lean forward on a desk of science
                  an astrologer dabbling in dragon prose
               half-smart about wars   bombs   especially bombs
              That I am unable to hate what is necessary to love 
                That I can't exist in a world that consents
            a child in a park   a man dying in an electric-chair
                    That I am able to laugh at all things
          all that I know and do not know   thus to conceal my pain
              That I say I am a poet and therefore love all man
           knowing my words to be the acquainted prophecy of all men
                and my unwords no less an acquaintanceship
                           That I am manifold
                     a man pursuing the big lies of gold
                      or a poet roaming in bright ashes
                    or that which I imagine myself to be 
                a shark-toothed sleep   a man-eater of dreams
                   I need not then be all-smart about bombs
              Happily so   for if I felt bombs were caterpillars
                   I'd doubt not they'd become butterflies
                         There is a hell for bombs
                      They're there   I see them there
                       They sit in bits and sing songs
	                    mostly German songs
                      And two very long American songs
                    and they wish there were more songs
                   especially Russian and Chinese songs
                  and some more very long American songs
                    Poor little Bomb that'll never be 
                       an Eskimo song   I love thee 
                        I want to put a lollipop
                            in thy furcal mouth
                     A wig of Goldilocks on thy baldy bean
                  and have you skip with me Hansel and Gretel
                        along the Hollywoodian screen
                      O Bomb in which all lovely things
                   moral and physical anxiously participate
	                O fairylike plucked from the 
                          grandest universe tree 
                      O piece of heaven which gives
                     both mountain and anthill a sun
                I am standing before your fantastic lily door
                I bring you Midgardian roses   Arcadian musk
                 Reputed cosmetics from the girls of heaven
                   Welcome me   fear not thy opened door
                     nor thy cold ghost's grey memory
                   nor the pimps of indefinite weather
                       their cruel terrestial thaw
                          Oppenheimer is seated
                       in the dark pocket of Light
                    Fermi is dry in Death's Mozambique
                         Einstein his mythmouth
                 a barnacled wreath on the moon-squid's head
             Let me in   Bomb   rise from that pregnant-rat corner
                nor fear the raised-broom nations of the world
                           O Bomb I love you
                 I want to kiss your clank   eat your boom
                    You are a paean   an acme of scream
                      a lyric hat of Mister Thunder
                        O resound thy tanky knees
                     BOOM   BOOM   BOOM   BOOM   BOOM
                      BOOM ye skies and BOOM ye suns
                    BOOM BOOM ye moons   ye stars BOOM
                     nights ye BOOM   ye days ye BOOM
                 BOOM BOOM ye winds   ye clouds ye rains
                    go BANG ye lakes   ye oceans BING
                     Barracuda BOOM and cougar BOOM
                       Ubangi BOOM   orangutang 
                 BING BANG BONG BOOM   bee bear baboon
                        ye BANG ye BONG ye BING
                       the tail the fin the wing
                 Yes   Yes   into our midst a bomb will fall
                 Flowers will leap in joy their roots aching
          Fields will kneel proud beneath the halleluyahs of the wind
            Pinkbombs will blossom   Elkbombs will perk their ears
           Ah many a bomb that day will awe the bird a gentle look
                 Yet   not enough to say a bomb will fall
                  or even contend celestial fire goes out
                Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb
         that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born
            magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine   all beautiful
               and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires
                     fierce with moustaches of gold

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