Poem for Warner Stringfellow

by

Fifth Estate # 85, August 7-20, 1969

Detective Lieutenant,

Detroit Narcotics Squad,

who has been single-handedly responsible

for busting me on two separate occasions

for possessing and selling marijuana

.

and who stumbled into my new apartment last night by accident

over a year since the last time he saw me

& two years to the day after he first busted me —

.

Warner you are living in another century, this new one started

while you were running around in circles

chasing dangerous criminals

to keep the city safe from marijuana

& people like me—”I know what you are,”

you told me last night, “and when I get you again

you ain’t gettin’ off so easy. I’ll

DROWN you

you worthless prick” you said

.

But it won’t be so easy “next time,” Warner,

if there is a next time,

because this whole new thing is getting

so far out of your clutches

you don’t even know what it is—

Except you can sense it

with what senses you have left, you know somehow

that things ain’t what they used to be, that this world

is changing so fast

you haven’t even got a place in it no more

.

Your old-time power & control have no place in this world,

Warner, & as long as you keep trying to hang onto them

you’ll just get farther & farther behind

until you die Warner, until you’re dead.

.

Not too long ago, Warner,

I would have given anything

just to get my hands around your neck

and choke you to death

.

But that time is past, there’s no need of it, you’ll die anyway

any thing will, when it stops growing

& there’s no more need for it

in the world —

.

There’s no need for you now, Warner, tho it may take 20 years

before you or the people you have made it your life to lie to

find out your uselessness & criminality—

.

You can’t make me a criminal, Warner,

you should know that by now, & your prisons & courts

don’t scare me anymore, I know what you are

& I don’t hate you anymore, I won’t let you trap me in that tiny little bag of yours, I won’t respond

the way you have to have me respond

because it’s too late for that now, Warner,

it’s just too damn late for those games,

the whole fucking UNIVERSE

is right there in front of our eyes

& it’s all I can do

to stay open to it now

while it’s still “my” time

.

Even the 6 months you got me in your prison, Warner,

only made me stronger & less afraid

of the puny fear traps

that are your only tool—what’re-you gonna do,

Lieutenant Stringfellow,

.

when you have to try to arrest

all the people younger than I am

who smoke marijuana every day

& don’t even care about you at all, when you come to bust them

all they’ll do is laugh in your face, you’re so funny, you come on

like someone on your tv set, all that 1930s shit,

or 1950s, the century changed

at 1960, you’re as out-of-date

as the House Un-American Activities Committee

who tried to scare the young cats in 1966

& these cats showed up wearing Revolutionary War costumes

laughing at you—

it’s 19-sixty-six Warner,

there is no thing to fear

except your jails, & they’ll fall soon

they’re fallen now, they don’t mean anything any more

& even if you kill us all off that’s no big thing Warner,

we just get born again

more & more aware of what’s really happening in the universe

but it’s too late to kill us all, you missed your chance

in 1959, before the whole thing really started

you’ve been playing that funny shit for 2000 years

& all you’ve got is a gun & a badge & a house in a nice neighborhood

& a car & a tv set

& you can’t even talk to your own kids

they just don’t wanna hear it, you send them to psychiatrists

& they go over to somebody’s house & smoke reefer

listen to the FUGS & John Coltrane & Sun Ra

& don’t even think about you until they have to go home

& what a drag that is, Warner, going home to their atrophied parents

Who are dying in their living room chairs watching BATMAN on tv

& dancing the frug with Jackie Kennedy in their dreams

What kind of life have you got, Warner,

when you have to sit & think about me

for over two years, and I’m 25 now, what’re you gonna do

with all these fucking kids who are crazier than I am

& don’t care what you do, you ain’t nothin to them, & in

four years Warner, half the U.S. population will be under twenty-five years of age

Your’re HOOKED, Warner Stringfellow, you’re strung out

you’ve shot so much of that dope in your head that shit Harry Anslinger & Hoover sold you

but all it is is JUNK, Warner,

& you can’t keep selling people forever they get hip to you, they don’t want any more of it

they’ve had enough, they want something REAL, Warner,

& you just ain’t got it to give to them

.

They don’t care about titles no more, Warner, a lieutenant

ain’t nothin but a cop, & a cop ain’t shit

They wanna see who WARNER STRINGFELLOW is,

& what he does with himself, that badge & title

ain’t gonna fool nobody no more

not like it has, they’ll do like I do &

call you by your given name, that’s all

any man needs, you won’t get me Warner, even

if you lock me up again, because you’re the one who’s trapped_

in all that Aristotelian bullshit, the world is not black & white, it’s

all colors, Warner, all you need to do

is open your God-given eyes and see it

.

& I hope you do,

you’re a man too,

all of us are,

and every man is made to be free

.

I love you like I do any natural-born man

but you got to BE a man, Warner, not a cop

.

you got to open yourself up or be

shut off completely

as you are now

from the world of human beings—

.

Come on out of that jail, Warner,

let your criminals go, you’ve just trapped them

in your silly bag, & there’s no need for those games,

we’re all lovely & free Warner,

we’re all human beings, & nothing you can do

can ever change the universe—

.

I get up to change the record, Eric Dolphy

OUT TO LUNCH, it’s 7 in the morning & the world

changes too, it moves farther

away from where you are, my wife turns over in bed

she’s probably dreaming about you—you put her in jail too,

Warner, but only overnight, & you took her man away

for six whole months—we celebrated our 1st anniversary

while I was in your jail, & it only made us stronger

& more together than before—you see

how puny your bullshit punishments are. And now

we’ll bring our own baby into the world

& see what it can do for you, even tho you want to

wipe out its father

even before it’s born

& my wife feels sorry for you, Warner,

just to show you what you’re up against with us.

she really won’t play your silly hate games—

that poor man, she says, he must spend all his time

thinking of how he’ll get us—

doesn’t he have

anything better to do with his life?

.

And what can you do with her, Warner,

shoot her? Or lock her up? The problem is

what’re you gonna do with your self, Warner Stringfellow?

Let me leave you with that. What will you be in five years,

Warner, an Inspector? Like poor stupid Jimmy Fike

at the House of Correction? Why don’t you

quit playing games, Warner, & grow up to

be a MAN like the rest of us

.

This is the story you wanted me to write

about you, Warner, the one you

asked me about again last night,

& it’s the best I can do—

.

I hope you can hear it –

Love all ways

John Sinclair

Detroit

October 6th, 1966

for Charles’ birthday

// Share this on... Facebooktwitterredditmail
Top