WHO RUNS AMERICA? by  Allen Ginsberg


Oil brown smog over Denver 

Oil red dung colored smoke   

level to level across the horizon 

      blue tainted sky    above   

Oil car smog gasoline   

      hazing red Denver's day   

            December bare trees   

                  sticking up from housetop streets   

Plane lands rumbling, planes rise over   

                radar wheels, black smoke   

                     drifts from tailfins


 Oil millions of cars speeding the cracked plains   

Oil from Texas, Bahrein, Venezuela Mexico   

Oil that turns General Motors   

         revs up Ford   

      lights up General Electric, oil that crackles   

thru International Business Machine computers,   

       charges dynamos for ITT   

sparks Western Electric   

         runs thru Amer Telephone & Telegraph wires   

Oil that flows thru Exxon New Jersey hoses,   

rings in Mobil gas tank cranks, rumbles   

                   Chrysler engines   

shoots thru Texaco pipelines   

         blackens ocean from broken Gulf tankers   

spills onto Santa Barbara beaches from   

                    Standard of California derricks offshore.


Copyright © 1974 by Allen Ginsberg from Mind Breaths All rights reserved
by the Allen Ginsberg Estate. Used by permission of the estate and its executor. 


Prophetic Quote from HOWL by Allen Ginsberg: 


"….Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and
        banks! Moloch
whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a
        cloud of sexless hydrogen! …. 

Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon!
       Wake up in
Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!.... 

Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind
       capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite

       cocks! monstrous bombs! 

They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons!
       lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us! 

Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river! 

Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit! 

Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood!...” 


Death to Van Gogh's Ear 

Poet is Priest 

Money has reckoned the soul of America 

Congress broken thru the precipice of Eternity 

the president built a War machine which will vomit and rear Russia out of 


The American Century betrayed by a mad Senate which no longer sleeps with

          its wife.

Franco has murdered Locra the fairy son of Whitman 

just as Maykovsky committed suicide to avoid Russia 

Hart Crane distinguished Platonist committed suicide to cave in the wrong 


just as Million tons of human wheat were burned in secret caverns under
White House 

while India starved and screamed and ate mad dogs full of rain 

and mountains of eggs were reduced to white powder in the halls of Congress 

no Godfearing man will walk there again because of the stink of the rotten eggs 

         of America 

and the Indians of Chiapas continue to gnaw their vitaminless tortillas 

a borigines of Australia perhaps gibber in the eggless wilderness 

and I rarely have an egg for breakfast tho my work requires infinite eggs  

          to come to birth in Eternity 

eggs should be eaten or given to their mothers 

and the grief of the countless chickens of America is expressed in the screaming

          of her comedians over the radio 

Detroit has built a million automobiles of rubber trees and phantoms 

but I walk, I walk, and the Orient walks with me, and all Africa walks 

And sooner or later North America will walk 

for as we have driven the Chinese Angel from our door he will drive us

            from the Golden Door of future

we have not cherished pity on Tanganyika

Einstein alive was mocked for his heavenly politics 

Bertrand Russell driven from New York for getting laid 

immortal Chaplin driven form our shores with a rose in his teeth 

a secret conspiracy by Catholic Church in the lavatories of Congress has denied     
             contraceptives to the unceasing masses of India. 

Nobody publishes a word that is not the cowardly robot ravings of a depraved 


The day of the publication of true literature of the American body will be day of


the revolution of the sexy lamb 

the only bloodless revolution that gives away corn 

poor Genet will illuminate the harvesters of Ohio 

Marijuana is a benevolent narcotic but J. Edgar Hoover prefers his deathly 


And the heroin of Lao-Tze & the Sixth Patriarch is punished by the electric chair 

but the poor sick junkies have nowhere to lay their heads 

fiends in our government have invented a cold-turkey cure for addiction as obsolete

            as the Defence Early Warning Radar System. 

I am the defence Early Earning Radar System 

I see nothing but bombs 

I am not interested in preventing Asia from being Asia 

and the governments of Russia and Asia will rise and fall but Asia and Russia will
             not fall 

The government of America also will fall but how can America fall 

I doubt if anyone will ever fall anymore except governments 

fortunately all the governments will fall 

the only ones which won't fall are the good ones 

and the good ones don't yet exist 

But they have no being existing they exist in my poems 

they exist in the death of the Russian and American governments 

they exist in the death of Hart Crane & Mayakovsky 

Now is the time of prophecy without death as a consequence 

the universe will ultimately disappear 

Hollywood will rot on the windmills of Eternity 

Hollywood whose movies stick in the throat of God 

Yes Hollywood will get what it deserves  


Seepage of nerve-gas over the radio 

History will make this poem prophetic and its awful silliness a hideous spiritual 


I have the moan of doves and the feather of ecstasy 

Man cannot long endure the hunger of the cannibal abstract 

War is abstract 

the world will be destroyed 

but I will die only for poetry, that will save the world

Monument to Socco & Vanzetti not yet financed to ennoble Boston 

Natives of Kenya tormented by idiot con-men from England

South Africa in the grip of hte white fool
Vachel Lindsay Secretary of Interior 

Poe Secretary of Imagination 

Pound Secty. Economics 

and Kra belongs to Kra, and Pukti to Pukti 

cross fertilization of Blok and Artaud 

Van Gogh's ear on the currency 

no more propaganda for monsters 

and poets should stay out of politics or become monsters 

I have become monstrous with politics 

the Russian poet undoubtedly monstrous in his secret notebook 

Tibet should be left alone

These are obvious prophecies 

America will be destroyed 

Russian poets will struggle with Russia 

Whitman warned against this "Fabled Damned of nations"
Where was Theodore
Roosevelt when he sent out ultimatums from his castle

         in Camden 

Where was the House of Representatives when Crane read aloud from his 

          Prophetic Books 

What was Wall Street scheming when Lindsay announced the doom of Money 

Were they listening to my ravings in the locker rooms of Bricksford Employment

Did they bend their ears to the moans of my soul when I struggled with market

           research statistics in the Forum of Rome? 

No they were fighting in their fiery offices , on the carpets of heartfailure, screaming and
           bargaining with Destiny 

fighting the Skeleton with sabers, muskets, buck-teeth, indigestion, bombs of
           larceny, whoredom, rockets, and pederasty, 

back to the wall to build up their wives and apartments, lawns, suburbs, fairydoms, 

Puerto Ricans crowded for massacre on 114th St. for the sake of an imitation

            Chinese-Moderne refrigerator 

Elephants of mercy murdered for the sake of the Elizabethan birdcage 

millions of agitated fanatics in the bughouse for the sake of the screaming 

             soprano of industry 

Money-chant of soapers -- toothpaste apes in television sets deodorizers on
             hypnotic chairs

petroleum mongers in Texas -- jet plane streaks among the clouds --

sky writers liars in the face of Divinity-- fanged butchers of hats and shoes, 

             all Owners! Owners! Owners! with obsession on property and vanished 


and their long editorials on the fence of the screaming negro attacked by ants crawled
             out of the front page! 

Machinery of a mass electrical dream! A war-creating whore of Babylon 

             bellowing over Capitols and Academies! 

Money! Money! Money! shrieking mad celestial money of illusion! Money made
             of nothing, starvation, suicide! Money of failure! Money of death! 

Money against Eternity! and eternity's strong mills grind out vast paper of

Paris, 1958


Oringinally published in Kaddish and Other Poems 1958-1960, City Lights Books: San Francisco: CA. (C) 1961 by Allen Ginsberg. Used by courtesy of the Estate of Allen Ginsbeg. All rights, including electronic, are reserved. Copyright (C) 1957 to  2014 by the Estate of Allen Ginsberg. With thanks to the Executor of the Ginsberg Estate. 


Poems by Allen Ginsberg: Who Runs America?
A Prophetic Quote from Howl and Death to Van Gogh's Ear

Renowned poet, Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) like Walt Whitman, is known to millions throughout the world. Like Whitman, the basis of Ginsberg’s poetic output was a belief that  the poet is to raise his or her voice in defense of democracy. At the height of his fame, he was a leader amid the world of poets as a progressive force of conscience. He is most remembered for his early masterwork “Howl”, with its opening line (“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”) and the driving litany of lines celebrating those minds. His other best known work is “Kaddish” an emotionally powerful biography of his mother, Naomi,  who spent most of her adult life in mental anguish. Other poems demonstrate expansive interests and varied styles: “Sunflower Sutra” is an ode to the individualism. “America” is a satire  on America's worst values. “Wichita Vortex Sutra” is an astute diatribe demanding an end to the Vietnam War. “Wales Visitation” is a celebration of nature's fine elements. The linked poems of "The Fall of America" won a National Book Award. “Father Death Blues” is a tribute to the poet's father, Louis Ginsberg, also a poet. “White Shroud” resolved Ginsberg's mixed feelings for his mother. The complete body of Ginsberg’s work is one of the most impressive in modern American literature. The poet worked tirelessly to promote humane sociopolitical causes. The obscenity trial over "Howl" was a catalyst that established the poet's lifelong obsession with First Amendment rights and political activism.  Allen Ginsberg died in 1997, but nearly all of his books remain in print. If he were alive today, one imagines he'd be fostering environmental causes regarding climate crisis catastrophe. His words are prophetic.