Harry Northup: Two Poems

Harry Northup has had ten books of poetry published, the last one being Where Bodies Again Recline (Cahuenga Press). He received his B.A. in English from C.S.U.N., where he studied Verse with Ann Stanford. Northup has made a living as an actor for thirty-four years, acting in thirty-seven films, including Taxi Driver (1976 Palme d’Or winner at Cannes), Over the Edge (starring role) & The Silence of the Lambs (1991 Oscar winner for Best Picture).


birthday poem

amidst cruelty in the daily family
newspaper, the youngest son & his
lovely wife ate at true food kitchen
& saw a meditative vastness in line
plane & color — no shill for conformity
attempting to silence the poet
you would think that old age wouldn’t tie
its hands with bitterness — for each
thing is holi — lincoln highway is holi
fbi guns are holi — everything that
lives is holi — meanness holi, hunger
holi, denying family holi, disregards
are holi — the hunger has gotten
such that cruelty springs from nausea
the religiousness not being the creator
the sickness comes when the middle
class wants all to be money hungry
materialists — love & work, honor
them, nourish the creative, don’t
live in fear of the other — every-
thing howls, yelps, hides, walks,
rises — multiple images with narra-
tive underneath — the youngest son
& his wife — both poets, ate good food
& saw diebenkorn’s ocean park series
& for awhile the youngest son
forgot how cruel his older religious
brother had been to him


menus reply

the man loaned his studebaker station wagon
to his friend who drove to a ladies house
the loaner hid on the folded down seat & covered himself
with a blanket
the friend drove with his lady to the grove & made love
to her while the loaner listened

the same man who loaned his car to his friend
had another friend who owned a lavender thunderbird
while the driver stood outside the man sat in the passenger
& the girl with the large freckles hiked up her skirt
pulled her panties down & sat on top of the young man
in the passenger seat of the t-bird
she moved up & down until he came
the two men worked together in a men’s clothing store

the same man went to a town 80 miles away
with a man who owned a salmon-colored ford convertible
the owner was going with a cheerleader for the jr. college team
after the friday night football game
the two men & the cheerleader drove to a seamy part of town where
the younger man went into an indian woman’s house &
on the other side of a curtain screwed the indian woman for $9
while her husband watched television in the first room
the young man from an other town passed through

when he was 17 he asked a cab driver in san francisco where
he could find a woman to fuck
the cabbie took him to a hotel & in a room where he could see
the bay she washed his dick in warm water
she unzipped her gray dress & they fucked before he sailed
to hawaii for duty at pearl harbor

all this to say the young man was hungry
& he never really solved his loneliness
until his passion for acting took him to manhattan
his devotion to poetry took him to a finality
that has never seemed final nor free but
he found a woman who loved him & he never ever disconnected

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