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Thanks for the Use of the Hall, Two poems by Grover Lewis

June 25, 1995

Only a gray shadow

Remains of the tent:

Hard echoes of laughter

Heard through the faded film

of blue smoke,

A cabal of thin-lipped barkers,

The wretched marks howling

their terrors

To all who would clap.

It was really a very fine circus.


A Breviary for Painters

First, you must remember to smoke &

pray & if necessary weep in the streets

before you approach the materials with

which you will make paintings, drawings,

prints &, in general, Art.

Speed is essential. As William

Burroughs, a noted ex-junkie & Artists, has

proclaimed, we only have minutes to go.

However, devotion is of the essence to the

Artists deserving of the name.

Devotion is slower than speed.

To illustrate:

Let us say that one is haunted, obsessed,

hounded as by demons with visions of outer

space, prophetic insights of the kick-in-the-

head new vistas of the astral plane,

You begin to suspect that you are galac-

tically hungup, that Somebody Up There

Doesn't Like You. You become up-tight

about making your Art.

But this is an error, an Artistic back-


What is forgotten is that the Artist

archetypically is a divine paranoid. In one

guise, he is a plain-vanilla schmuck,

common as salt, mixed up in the same gooey

ingredients that bake the trivial fears &

anxieties which in turn constitute the aver-

age person's social pie in such implausible

places as Scarsdale, N.Y., and Scalded

Dog County, Texas.

And, while eating his pie & it having

him, too, the plain-vanilla schmuck puts his

pants on one leg at a time.

The Artists, on the other hand, is a kind

of holy visionary. St. John of the Cross

gave him his style & a hint of this character.

The Artists, wolfing down heaping

handfuls of pie, doesn't put on his pants at

all. He sees America & outer space (which

some Artists contend are identical) best by car, but he remains naked to himself & all

his enemies.

And they are legion--both himself & all

his enemies.

Of course, all Artists are mad. But

beautifully, tenderly, lyrically so.

As an Artists, you must eat your lyric pie.

You are honor-bound to nurture your

visions of outer space.

And, with regard to materials, you

must keep your brushes clean, fragrant &


From "I'll Be There in the Morning If I Live" by Grover Lewis. (Straight Arrow Books, San Francisco, Calif.: $2.50; 77 pp.) This book is no longer in print. 1973 Reprinted by permission.

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