February 20th, 2015
Allen Ginsberg met my Buddhist lama. Gelek Rimpoche, through the composer Philip Glass. They both became members of Jewel Heart. We would see him at occasional teachings at our center on Ann Street in Ann Arbor. He and Philip Glass would regularly attend our retreats, even the “miserable” winter retreats with leaky roofs, illnesses, etc.
Ginsberg and Glass helped Jewel Heart with fundraisers. I helped set up this poetry reading in Evanston. Ginsberg had a quiet speaking voice. But when he read poetry he yelled, he waved his arms, he became someone bigger and greater, like Lord Vishnu showing his true magnificence.
That weekend Ginsberg and Rimpoche and a few others from the Chicago sangha met at my house. Before, there were plumbing issues. The toilets backed up and there was water all over the floor in the first-floor bathroom. I prayed that they would last through this visit. They did.
Ginsberg was tired and wanted to take a nap; I tucked him into my bed. So I can say Allen Ginsberg slept in my bed. I recall that he liked my house and the little yard in the back. It’s one of those things where you think afterward, did that really happen?
In his poem “Friday the Thirteenth” he described the area near O’Hare Airport where I grew up:
Samsara tears itself apart–Dusk over Chicago, light-glitter along boulevards
insect-eyed autos moving slow under blue streetlamps,
plane motor buzz in eardrum, city cloud roof filling with gray gas on up into
clear heaven–planet horizon auroral twilight-streaked,
blue space above human truck-moil, Empty sky
Empty mind overhangs Chicago, the universe suspended entire overhanging