Title: Revolutionary Letters
Subtitle: May 1968-December 1971
Author: Diane di Prima
Date: 1971
Topic: poetry
Source: Anonymous reprint (2014) of Third Edition, March 1974, City Lights Books, San Francisco
Notes: Scanned from 2014 anonymous reprint.


































































dedicated to Bob Dylan


This version published 2005 without permission, and is based on the 3rd edition of the work by City Lights.

Anti-profit, anti-copyright.

Revolutionary Letters has been out of print for many years, and we wanted to bring it back.

Look for an expanded edition, rumored to come out soon from Last Gasp Press of SF.


I have just realized that the stakes are myself

I have no other

ransom money, nothing to break or barter but my life

my spirit measured out, in bits, spread over

the roulette table, I recoup what I can

nothing else to shove under the nose of the maitre de jeu

nothing to thrust out the window, no white flag

this flesh all I have to offer, to make the play with

this immediate head, what it comes up with, my move

as we slither over this go board, stepping always

(we hope) between the lines


The value of an individual life a credo they taught us

to instil fear, and inaction, ‘you only live once’

a fog in our eyes, we are

endless as the sea, not separate, we die

a million times a day, we are born

a million times, each breath life and death:

get up, put on your shoes, get

started, someone will finish



an organism, one flesh, breathing joy as the stars

breathe destiny down on us, get

going, join hands, see to business, thousands of sons

will see to it when you fall, you will grow

a thousand times in the bellies of your sisters


store water; make a point of filling your bathtub

at the first news of trouble: they turned off the water

in the 4th ward for a whole day during the Newark riots;

or better yet make a habit

of keeping the tub clean and full when not in use

change this once a day, it should be good enough

for washing, flushing toilets when necessary

and cooking, in a pinch, but it’s a good idea

to keep some bottled water handy too

get a couple of five gallon jugs and keep them full

for cooking


store food — dry stuff like rice and beans stores best

goes farthest. SALT VERY IMPORTANT: it’s health and energy

healing too, keep a couple pounds

sea salt around, and, because we’re spoiled, some tins

tuna, etc. to keep up morale — keep up the sense

of ‘balanced diet’ ‘protein intake’ remember

the stores may be closed for quite some time, the trucks

may not enter your section of the city for weeks, you can cool it indefinitely


with 20 lb brown rice

20 lb whole wheat flour

10 lb cornmeal

10 lb good beans — kidney or soy

5 lb sea salt

2 qts good oil

dried fruit and nuts

add nutrients and a sense of luxury

to this diet, a squash or coconut

in a cool place in your pad will keep six months.


remember we are all used to eating less

than the ‘average American’ and take it easy

before we

ever notice we’re hungry the rest of the folk will be starving

used as they are to meat and fresh milk daily

and help will arrive, until the day no help arrives

and then you’re on your own.


hoard matches, we aren’t good

at rubbing sticks together any more

a tinder box is useful, if you can work it

don’t count on gas stove, gas heater

electric light

keep hibachi and charcoal, CHARCOAL STARTER a help

kerosene lamp and candles, learn to keep warm

with breathing

remember the blessed American habit of bundling


Left to themselves people

grow their hair.

Left to themselves they

take off their shoe’s.

Left to themselves they make love

sleep easily

share blankets, dope & children

they are not lazy or afraid

they plant seeds, they smile, they

speak to one another. The word

coming into its own: touch of love;

on the brain, the ear.


We return with the sea, the tides

we return as often as leaves, as numerous

as grass, gentle, insistent, we remember

the way,

our babes toddle barefoot thru the cities of the universe.


at some point

you may be called upon

to keep going for several days without sleep:

keep some ups around, to be

clearheaded, avoid ‘comedown’ as much as possible,

take vitamin B along with amphetamines, try

powdered guarana root, available

at herb drugstores, it is an up

used by Peruvian mountainfolk, tastes

like mocha (bitter) can be put in tea

will clear your head, increase oxygen supply

keep you going past amphetamine wooziness


at some point

you may have to crash, under tension, keep some downs

on’ hand, you may have to cool out

sickness, or freak-out, or sorrow, keep some downs

on hand, I don’t mean

tranquillizers, ye olde fashioned SLEEPING PILL

(sleep heals heads, heals souls) chloryll hydrate

(Mickey Finn) one of the best, but

nembutal, etc. OK in a pinch, remember

no liquor with barbiturates


at some point

you will need painkillers, darvon

is glorified shit, stash some codeine & remember

it’s about five times more effective

if taken with aspirin


ups, downs & painkillers are

the essence: antibiotics

for extreme infections, any good

wide-spectrum one will do, avoid penicillin

too many allergies, speaking of which

cortisone is good for really bad attacks

(someone who freaks out asthma-style, or with hives)



as possible, side effects multifarious

and they cloud the brain

tend to weaken the body and obscure



ginseng tea, ginger compresses, sea salt,

prayer and love

are better healers, easier come by, save the others

for life and death trips, you will know

when you see one


avoid the folk

who find Bonnie and Clyde too violent

who see the blood but not the energy form

they love us and want us to practice birth control

they love us and want the Hindus to kill their cows

they love us and have a colorless tasteless powder

which is the perfect synthetic food...


there are those who can tell you

how to make molotov cocktails, flamethrowers,

bombs whatever

you might be needing

find them and learn, define

your aim clearly, choose your ammo

with that in mind


it is not a good idea to tote a gun

or knife

unless you are proficient in its use

all swords are two-edged, can be used against you

by anyone who can get ‘em away from you


it is

possible even on the east coast

to find an isolated place for target practice


will depend mostly on your state of mind:

meditate, pray, make love, be prepared

at any time, to die


but don’t get uptight: the guns

will not win this one, they are

an incidental part of the action

which we better damn well be good at,

what will win

is mantras, the sustenance we give each other,

the energy we plug into

(the fact that we touch

share food)

the buddha nature

of everyone, friend and foe, like a million earthworms

tunnelling under this structure

till it falls


Everytime you pick the spot for a be-in

a demonstration, a march, a rally, you are choosing the ground

for a potential battle.

You are still calling these shots.

Pick your terrain with that in mind.

Remember the old gang rules:

stick to your neighborhood, don’t let them lure you

to Central Park everytime, I would hate

to stumble bloody out of that park to find help:

Central Park West, or Fifth Avenue, which would you



go to love-ins

with incense, flowers, food, and a plastic bag

with a damp cloth in it, for tear gas, wear no jewelry

wear clothes you can move in easily, wear no glasses

contact lenses

earrings for pierced ears are especially hazardous


try to be clear

in front, what you will do if it comes

to trouble

if you’re going to try to split stay out of the center

don’t stampede or panic others

don’t waver between active and passive resistance

know your limitations, bear contempt

neither for yourself, nor any of your brothers


NO ONE WAY WORKS, it will take all of us

shoving at the thing from all sides

to bring it down.



the overthrow of government is a crime

overthrowing it is something else

altogether, it is sometimes called


but don’t kid yourself: government

is not where it’s at: it’s only

a good place to start:

1. kill head of Dow Chemical

2. destroy plant


i.e., destroy the concept of money

as we know it, get rid of interest,

savings, inheritance

(Pound’s money, as dated coupons that come in the mail

to everyone, and are void in 30 days

is still a good idea)

or, let’s start with no money at all and invent it

if we need it

or, mimeograph it and everyone

print as much as they want

and see what happens


declare a moratorium on debt

the Continental Congress did

‘on all debts public and private’

& no one ‘owns’ the land

it can be held

for use, no man holding more

than he can work, himself and family working


let no one work for another

except for love, and what you make above your needs be given to the tribe

a Common-Wealth


None of us knows the answers, think about

these things.

The day will come when we have to know

the answers.


These are transitional years and the dues

will be heavy.

Change is quick but revolution

will take A while.

America has not even begun as yet.

This continent is seed.


drove across

San Joaquin Valley

with Kirby Doyle


getting free Digger meat

for Free City Convention


behind talk of Kirby’s family

been here a long time


friendship renewed, neat pickup truck, we stopped

at a gas station

man uptight at the

sight of us, sight of Kirby’s hair, his friendly

loose face, my hair, our dress

man surly, uptight, we drove

away brought down

(across fields of insecticide and migrant workers)


‘Man’ I said

‘that cat

so uptight, what’s he

so uptight about, it’s not

your hair, not really, it’s just

what the TV tells him about hippies

got him scared, what he reads in

his magazines

got him scared, we got to

come out from behind the image

sit down with him, if he

sat down to a beer with you he’d find

a helluva lot more to say than he’ll find

with the man who makes your image

he’s got nothing in common

with the men who run his mind, who tell him

what to think of us’




so people can meet, can sit

and talk to each other, warm and close

no TV image flickering

between them.


the vortex of creation is the vortex of destruction

the vortex of artistic creation is the vortex of self destruction

the vortex of political creation is the vortex of flesh destruction

flesh is in the fire, it curls and terribly warps

fat is in the fire, it drips and sizzling sings

bones are in the fire

they crack tellingly in

subtle hieroglyphs of oracle

charcoal singed

the smell of your burning hair

for every revolutionary must at last will his own destruction

rooted as he is in the past he sets out to destroy


now let me tell you

what is a Brahmasastra

Brahmasastra, hindu weapon of war

near as I can make out

a flying wedge of mind energy

hurled at the foe by god or hero

or many heroes

hurled at a problem or enemy

cracking it


Brahmasastra can be made

by any or all

can be made by all of us

straight or tripping, thinking together

like: all of us stop the war

at nine o’clock tomorrow, each take one soldier

see him clearly, love him, take the gun

out of his hand, lead him to a quiet spot

sit him down, sit with him as he takes a joint

of viet cong grass from his pocket...

Brahmasastra can be made

by all of us, tripping together

winter solstice

at home, or in park, or wandering

sitting with friends

blinds closed, or on porch, no be-in

no need

to gather publicly

just gather spirit, see the forest growing

put back the big trees

put back the buffalo

the grasslands of the midwest with their herds of elk and deer

put fish in clean Great Lakes

desire that all surface water on the planet

be clean again. Kneel down and drink

from whatever brook or lake you conjure up.


are you prepared

to hide someone in your home indefinitely

say, two to six weeks, you going out

for food, etc., so he never.

hits the street, to keep your friends away

coolly, so they ask no questions, to nurse

him, or her, as necessary, to know

‘first aid’ and healing (not to freak out

at the sight of torn or half-cooked flesh)

to pass him on at the right time to the next

station, to cross the Canadian border, with a child

so that the three of you

look like one family, no questions asked,

or fewer, to stash letters, guns, or bombs

forget about them

till they are called for, to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT

not to ‘trust’

even your truelove, that is,

lay no more knowledge on him than he needs

to do his part of it, a kindness

we all must extend to each other in this game


When you seize Columbia, when you

seize Paris, take

the media, tell the people what you’re doing

what you’re up to and why and how you mean

to do it, how they can help, keep the news

coming, steady, you have 70 years

of media conditioning to combat, it is a wall

you must get through, somehow, to reach

the instinctive man, who is struggling like a plant

for light, for air


when you seize a town, a campus, get hold of the power

stations, the water, the transportation,

forget to negotiate, forget how

to negotiate, don’t wait for De Gaulle or Kirk

to abdicate, they won’t, you are not

‘demonstrating’ you are fighting

a war, fight to win, don’t wait for Johnson or

Humphrey or Rockefeller, to agree to your terms

take what you need, ‘it’s free

because it’s yours’


we are eating up the planet, the New York Times

takes a forest, every Sunday, Los Angeles

draws its water from the Sacramento Valley

the rivers of British Columbia are ours

on lease for 99 years


every large factory is an infringement

of our god-given right to light and air

to clean and flowing rivers stocked with fish

to the very possibility of life

for our children’s children, we will have to

look carefully, i.e., do we really want/


electricity and at what cost in natural resource

human resource

do we need cars, when petroleum

pumped from the earth poisons the land around

for 100 years, pumped from the car

poisons the hard-pressed cities, or try this

statistic, the USA

has 5% of the world’s people uses over

50% of the world’s goods, our garbage

holds matter for survival for uncounted

‘underdeveloped’ nations


we will all feel the pinch

there will not be

a Cadillac and a 40,000 dollar home

for everyone


the planet will not bear it


What there will be is enough

food, enough

of the ‘necessities’, luxuries

will have to go by the board


even the poorest of us

will have to give up something

to live free


let’s talk about splitting, splitting is an art

frequently called upon in revolution

retreat, says the I Ching, must not be confused

with flight, and furthermore, frequently, it furthers



i.e., know in advance

the persons/place you can go to,

means to get there

keep money (cash) in house for travelling

an extra set of i.d., Robert Williams

was warned by his own TV set when the Man

was coming for him,

he had his loot at home, his wife and kids

all crossed the country with him, into CANADA

and on to CUBA


it’s a good idea

to have good, working transportation ‘wheels’, one friend

has two weeks stashed in his VW bus

food, water, matches, clothing, blankets, gas, he can go

at least that long, before he hits a town, can leave

at any time

something to think about...


(for The Poor People’s Campaign)

if what you want is jobs

for everyone, you are still the enemy,

you have not thought thru, clearly

what that means


if what you want is housing,

industry (G.E. on the Navaho reservation)

a car for everyone, garage, refrigerator,

TV, more plumbing, scientific

freeways, you are still

the enemy, you have chosen

to sacrifice the planet for a few years of some

science fiction Utopia, if what you want


still is, or can be, schools

where all our kids are pushed into one shape, are taught

it’s better to be ‘American’ than black

or Indian, or Jap, or PR, where Dick

and Jane become and are the dream, do you

look like Dick’s father, don’t you think your kid

secretly wishes you did


if what you want

is clinics where the AMA

can feed you pills to keep you weak, or sterile

shoot germs into your kids, while Mercke & Co

grows richer

if you want

free psychiatric help for everyone

so that the shrinks

pimps for this decadence, can make

it flower for us, if you want

if you still want a piece

a small piece of suburbia, green lawn

laid down by the square foot

color TV, whose radiant energy

kills brain cells, whose subliminal ads

brainwash your children, have taken over

your dreams


degrees from universities which are nothing

more than slum landlords, festering sinks

of lies, so you too can go forth

and lie to others on some greeny campus



THE ENEMY, you are selling

yourself short, remember

you can have what you ask for, ask for



(for Huey Newton)

I will not rest

till men walk free & fearless on the earth

each doing in the manner of his blood

& tribe, peaceful in the free air


till all can seek, unhindered

the shape of their thought

no black cloud fear or guilt

between them & the sun, no babies burning

young men locked away, no paper world

to come between flesh & flesh in human



till the young women

come into their own, honored & fearless

birthing strong sons

loving & dancing


till the young men can at last

lose some of their sternness, return

to young men’s thoughts, till laughter

bounces off our hills & fills

our plains


Can you

own land, can you

own house, own rights

to other’s labor, (stocks, or factories

or money, loaned at interest)

what about

the yield of same, crops, autos

airplanes dropping bombs, can you

own real estate, so others

pay you rent? to whom

does the water belong, to whom

will the air belong, as it gets rarer?

the american indians say that a man

can own no more than he can carry away

on his horse.


what do you want

your kids to learn, do you care

if they know factoring, chemical formulae, theory

of numbers, equations, philosophy, semantics

symbolic logic, latin, history, socalled, which is

merely history of mind of western man, least interesting

of numberless manifestations on this planet?


do you care

if he learns to eat off the woods, to set

a broken arm, to mend

his own clothes, cook simple food, deliver

a calf or baby? if there are cars should he not

be able to keep his running?

how will he learn these things, will he learn them

cut off in a plaster box, encased

in a larger cement box called ‘school’ dealing with paper

from morning till night, grinding no clay or mortar, no

pigment, setting no seedlings in black earth

come spring, how will he

know to trap a rabbit, build a raft,

to navigate by stars, or find safe ground

to sleep on? what is he doing all his learning years

inside, as if the planet were no more than a vehicle

for carrying our plastic constructs around the sun


A lack of faith is simply a lack of courage

one who says ‘I wish I could believe that’ means simply that he

is coward, is pleased

to be spectator, on this scene where there are no spectators

where all hands not actually working are working against

as they lie idle, folded in lap, or holding up newspapers

full of lies, or wrapped around steering wheel, on one more

pleasure trip


Have you thought about the American aborigines

who will inhabit

this continent? Cave dwellers, tent people, tree dwellers, will your

great-grandchildren be among them? Will they sell

artifacts--abalone or wool--to the affluent

highly civilized Africans

who come here in the summer, will they wear

buckskin, or cotton, loincloth, run down

deer, catch fish barehanded, build teepees, hogans, remember

to use the wheel, to write, to speak, or simply drum & pipe,

smiling, will your great-grandchildren be among them?


Know every way

out of your house, where it goes, every alley

on the block, which back yards connect, which walls

are scalable, which bushes

will hold a man.

Construct at least one man-sized hiding place

in your walls, know for sure which neighbors

will let you sneak in the back door & saunter out the front

while the man is parked in your driveway, or tearing

your pad apart, which neighbors won’t be home, which cellar doors

are open--whom you can summon in your neighborhood

to do your errands, check the block, set up

a getaway while you sit tight inside & your house

is watched...




process, there is no end, there are only

means, each one

had better justify itself.

To whom?


How much

can we afford to lose, before we win, can we

cut hair, or give up drugs, take

job, join Minute’Men, marry, wear their clothes,

play bingo, what

can we stomach, how soon

does it leave its mark, can we

living straight in a straight part of town still see

our people, can we live

if we don’t see our people? ‘It is better

to lose & win, than win & be

defeated’ sd Gertrude Stein, which wd you



O my brothers

busted for pot, for looting, for loving

young beautiful brothers & sisters, for holding out hope

in both hands to the Man, enraging him

O my brothers, freaking out this moment this beautiful summer evening

in all the cages of America

while the sun goes down on this fabled & holy land:


know that we have this land, we are filling its crevices

its caves and forests, its coastlines and holy places

with our mating flesh, with the fierce play of our children our numbers increasing

we are approaching your cells, to cut you loose

to march triumphant with you, crying out

to Maitreya, across the Pacific


beware of those

who say we are the beautiful losers

who stand in their long hair and wait to be punished

who weep on beaches for our isolation


we are not alone: we have brothers in all the hills

we have sisters in the jungles and in the ozarks

we even have brothers on the frozen tundra

they sit by their fires, they sing, they gather arms

they multiply: they will reclaim the earth


nowhere we can go but they are waiting for us

no exile where we will not hear welcome home

‘goodmorning sister, let me work with you

goodmorning brother, let me

fight by your side’


(To Those Who Sold the Revolution Summer of ’68)

remember to wear a hat, if you have a hat

and stick your hair inside it, if it’s long hair

or don’t, wear shoes if it’s snowing and you have shoes

remember they buy out all the leaders, be a leader

if you want to be bought out, but remember to

tell the truth, just before they buy you, tell the truth

loud, and the kids will hear you, not hear your money

as it falls on the liquorstore counter, day after day

not hear your dreams of nightmare betrayal and torture

not hear your mercedes, they’ll hear the truth you spoke

they’ll believe you and honor you after you die, brought down

by that cia bullet you can’t avoid just by taking their money

they’ll believe you and DO WHAT YOU SAY



(for LeRoi, at long last)

not all the works of Mozart worth one human life

not all the brocaded of the Potala palace

better we should wear homespun, than some in orlon

some in Thailand silk

the children of Bengal weave gold thread in silk saris

six years old, eight years old, for export, they don’t sing

the singers are for export, Folkways records

better we should all have homemade flutes

and practice excruciatingly upon them, one hundred years

till we learn to

make our own music


not western civilization, but civilization itself

is the disease which is eating us

not the last five thousand years, but the last twenty thousand

are the cancer

not modern cities, but the city, not

capitalism, but ism, art, religion, once they are

separate enough to be seen and named, named art named

religion, once they are not

simply the daily acts of life which bring the rain, bring bread, heal, bring

the herds close enough to hunt, birth the children

simply the acts of song, the acts of power, now lost

to us these many years, not killing a few white men will bring

back power, not killing all the white men, but killing

the white man in each of us, killing the desire

for brocade, for gold, for champagne brandy, which sends

people out of the sun and out of their lives to create

COMMODITY for our pleasure, what claim

do we have, can we make, on another’s time, another’s

life blood, show me

a city which does not consume the air and water

for miles around it, mohenjo-daro was a blot

on the village culture of India, the cities of Egypt sucked

the life of millions, show me

an artifact of city which has the power

as flesh has power, as spirit of man

has power


how far back

are we willing to go?“that seems to be

the question, the more we give up

the more we will be blessed, the more

we give up, the further back we go, can we

make it under the sky again, in moving tribes

that settle, build, move on and build again

owning only what we carry, do we need

the village, division of labor, a friendly potlatch

a couple of times a year, or must it be

merely a ‘cybernetic civilization’

which may or may not save the water, but will not

show us our root, or our original face, return

us to the source, how far

(forward is back) are we willing to go

after all?


hey man let’s make a revolution, let’s give

every man a thunderbird

color TV, a refrigerator, free

antibiotics, let’s build

apartments with a separate bedroom for every child

inflatable plastic sofas, vitamin pills

with all our daily requirements that come in the mail

free gas & electric & telephone &

no rent, why not?


hey man, let’s make a revolution, let’s

turn off the power, turn on the

stars at night, put metal

back in the earth, or at least not take it out

anymore, make lots of guitars and flutes, teach the chicks

how to heal with herbs, let’s learn

to live with each other in a smaller space, and build

hogans, and domes and teepees all over the place


into flower pots or sculptures or live

in the bigger ones, why not?


rise up, my

brothers, do not

bow your heads any longer, or pray

except to the spirit you waken, the

spirit you bring to birth, it

never was on earth, rise up, do not

droop, smoking hash or opium, dreaming sweetness, perhaps

there will be time for that, on the long beaches

lying in love with the few of us who are left, but now

the earth cries out for aid, our brothers

and sisters set aside their childhoods, prepare

to fight, what choice have we but join them, in their hands

rests the survival of the very planet, the health

of the solar system, for we are one

with the stars and the spirit we forge

they wait for, Christ, Buddha, Krishna

Paracelsus, had but a taste, we must reclaim

the planet, re-occupy

this ground

the peace we seek was never seen before, the earth



who is the we, who is

the they in this thing, did

we or they kill the Indians, not me

my people brought here, cheap labor to exploit

a continent for them, did we

or they exploit it? do you

admit complicity, say ‘we

have to get out of Vietnam, we really should

stop poisoning the water, etc.’ look closer, look again,

secede, declare your independence, don’t accept

a share of the guilt they want to lay on us


to perfect bliss they envy, heavy deeds

make heavy hearts and to them

life is suffering, stand clear.



the east edge is

megalopolis, is

Washington, D.C., spread out

800 miles, ecology

totally fucked up, even

the brothers there do not completely believe

that they can win; the west edge

is langorous w/wealth, there venison

is brought down from the hills & figs & wine

from abandoned orchards, the sisters

raise their bastard young on welfare checks & rotten

sprayed vegetables, talk ‘free’, talk end of money, for them

the war is over, all the wars; the middle

is hardly heard from yet, it is

stirring, stretching muscles, bare bones of continent, eternal’

progression of young barbarians

huge boiling meat-fed hordes who can’t be taught

there’s anything to lose, angelic herds whose unholy yell

is gonna shake us all





4 A.M.?


let me tell you, brothers, that on May 30th I went to one of our

life festivals

dropped acid in Tompfkins Square Park with my

brothers & sisters

danced in the sun, till the stars

came out & the pigs

drove around us in a circle, where we stood

touching each other & loving, then I

went home & made love like a flower, like two flowers opening

to each other, we were

the jewel in the lotus, next morning still high wandered uptown

to Natural History Museum & there

in a room of Peruvian fauna, birds

of paradise I saw as a past, like the dinosaurs

saw birds pass from the earth &

flowers, most trees & small creatures:

chipmunks & rabbits & squirrels & delicate wildflowers

saw the earth bare & smooth, austerely plastic & efficient

men feeding hydroponically, working like ants

thought flatly, without regret (I have unlearned





if the power of the word is anything, America, your oil fields


your cities in ruins, smouldering, pillaged by children

your cars broken down, at a standstill, choking the roads

your citizens standing beside them, bewildered, or choosing

a packload of objects (what they can carry away) if the

power of the word lives, America, your power lines down

eagle-eyed lines of electric, of telephone, towers

of radio transmission

toppled & rankling in the fields, setting the hay ablaze

your newspapers useless, your populace illiterate

wiping their asses with them,


AMERICA, the wilderness is spreading from the parks

you have fenced it into, already

desert blows through Las Vegas, the sea licks its chops

at the oily edges of Los Angeles,

the camels are breeding, the bears, the elk are increasing

so are the indians and the very poor

do you stir in your sleep, America, do you dream of your power

pastel colored oil tanks from sea to shining sea?

sleep well, America, we stand by your bedside,

the word has power, the chant is going up


Revolution: a turning, as the earth

turns, among planets, as the sun

turns round some (darker) star, the galaxy

describes a yin-yang spiral in the aether, we turn

from dark to light, turn

faces of pain & fear, the dawn

awash among them


what is this

‘overpopulation’ problem, have you

looked at it, clearly, do you know


ten times as much land needed if we eat

hamburger, instead of grain; we can

all fit, not hungry, if we minimize

our needs, RIP OFF LARGE, EMPTY RANCHES, make the food

nutritious: chemical fertilizers

have to go, nitrates

poison the water; large scale machine farming

has to go, the soil

is blowing away (300 years

to make one inch of topsoil), do you know


40% of the women of Puerto Rico

already sterilized, transistor radios

the ‘sterilization bonus’ in India; all propaganda

aimed at the ‘non-white’ and ‘poor white’ populations


something like 90% of the land of USA

belongs to 5% of the population:

how can they hold on

when the hordes of the infants of the very poor

grow up, grow strong


‘I dreamed of a world without the sick and the fat’

-- Yevtushenko

the map: first goal is health

strong bodies make strong spirit, Venceremos Brigade

coming back from Cuba discover they know how to breathe

they can get up with the sun; first thing:

to zap the sugar habit, get rid of meat

& heavy drugs, to eat no chemicals, no processed food

first step:

to find out what health feels like: even keel

tireless energy pouring steady through


then, prana (vital energy) moving smooth

thru all yr flesh: next goal release

sex force--strong flesh becomes bright flesh

anger becomes ‘Buddha’s anger’ a steady roar

righteous, behind yr action, not spasmodic, threatens

no self-destruction; loose touch on

brothers & sisters, loose force (& contain it)

Holy Power

to build up, or pull down


(for my sisters)

As we know that blood

is birth, agony

breaks open doors, as we

can bend, graciously, beneath burdens, undermine

like rain, or earthworms, as our cries

yield to the cries of the newborn, as we hear

the plea in the voices around us, not words

of passion or cunning, discount

anger or pride, grow strong

in our own strength, women’s alchemy, quick arms

to pull down walls, we liberate

out of our knowledge, labor, sucking babes, we

liberate, and nourish, as the earth


And it seems to me the struggle has to be waged

on a number of different levels:


they have computers to cast the I Ching for them

but we have yarrow stalks

and the stars

it is a battle of energies, of force-fields, what the newspapers

call a battle of ideas


to take hold of the magic any way we can

and use it in total faith

to seek help in realms we have been taught to think of

as ‘mythological’

to contact ALL LEVELS of one’s own being

& loose the forces therein

always seeking in this to remain psychically inconspicuous

on the not so unlikely chance

that those we have thought of as ‘instigators’

are just the front men for a gang of black magicians

based ‘somewhere else’ in space

to whom the WHOLE of earth is a colony to exploit

(the ‘Nova Mob’ not so far out as you think)


Best not to place bodies in the line of fire

but to seek other means: study the Sioux

learn not to fuck up as they did--another ghost dance

started on Haight Street in 1967

We ain’t seen the end of it yet


And as you learn the magic, learn to believe it

Don’t be ‘surprised’ when it works, you undercut

your power.


TO BE FREE we’ve got to be free

of any idea of freedom.

Today the State Dept lifted the ban on

travel to China; and closed

Merritt College.


Be careful.

With what relief do we fall back

on the tale, so often told in revolutions

that now we must

organize, obey the rules, so that later

we can be free. It is the point

at which the revolution stops. To be carried forward

later & in another country, this is

the pattern, but we can

break the pattern


learn now we see

with all our skin, smell with our eyes too

sense & sex are boundless & the call

is to be boundless in them, make the joy

now, that we want, no shape

for space & time now but the shapes we will


Machinery: extended hands of man

doing man’s work. Diverted rivers

washing my clothes, diverted fire

dancing in wires, making light;

and heat. To see it thus is to see it, even

diverted rivers must resume their course, and fire

consume, whatever name you call it.


As soon as we submit

to a system based on causality, linear time

we submit, again, to the old values, plunge again

into slavery. Be strong. We have the right to make

the universe we dream. No need to fear “science” grovelling

apology for things as they are, ALL POWER

TO JOY. which will remake the world.


Don’t give up the eleven o’clock news for

Chairman Mao, don’t switch

from one “programming” to another

hang loose, Mao was young

fifty years ago, & in China.



I think I’ll stay on this

earthquake fault near this

still-active volcano in this

armed fortress facing a

dying ocean &

covered w/dirt

while the

streets burn up & the

rocks fly & pepper gas

lays us out


that’s where my friends are,

you bastards, not that

you know what that means


Ain’t gonna cop to it, ain’t gonna

be scared no more, we all

know the same songs, mushrooms, butterflies

we all

have the same babies, dig it

the woods are big.



eat mercury (in wheat & fish)

breathe sulphur fumes (everywhere)

take plenty of (macrobiotic) salt

& cook the mixture in the heat

of an atomic explosion


It takes courage to say no


No to canned corn & instant

mashed potatoes. No to rice krispies.

No to special K. No to margarine

mono & di-glycerides, NSDA

for coloring, causing cancer. No to

white bread, bleached w/nerve gas (wonder

bread). No to everything fried

in hardened oil w/silicates. No to

once-so-delicious salami, now red

w/sodium nitrate.


No to processed cheeses. No

no again to irradiated bacon, pink

phosphorescent ham, dead plastic

pasteurized milk. No to chocolate pudding

like grandma never made. No thanx

to coca-cola. No to freshness preserves,

dough conditioners, no

potassium sorbate, no

aluminum silicate, NO




No more ice cream? not w/embalming fluid.

Goodbye potato chips, peanut butter, jelly, jolly

white sugar! No more DES

all-American steaks or hamburgers either!

Goodbye, frozen fish! (dipped & coated w/

aureomycin) Fried eggs over easy w/

hormones, penicillin & speed.

Goodbye, frozen fish! (dipped & coated w/

Carnation Instant Breakfast, Nestle’s Quik.

Fritos, goodbye! your labels are very confusing.


All I can say

is what my daughter age six once said to me:

“if I can’t pronounce it

maybe I shouldn’t eat it.”

or, Dick Gregory

coming out of a 20-day fast:

“the people of America are controlled

by the food they eat”


All thru Amerika

all I see & find is

Indian America

the forms & shapes of



The forms proliferate.

As we spin (further) from the light

our bodies sprout new madnesses

congenital pale disease, like new plants

on the edge of (radioactive) craters

we sprout new richness of design

baroque apologies for Kaliyuga

till Kether calls us home

hauls in the galaxies like some

big fish.



Over & over I’ve look for

the picture in the cloth: man

standing idle & tall against

horizon: “savage” landscape

we stare, poverty-struck

at New England pewter in

farmhouse window: quote

Adams, Jefferson, hew

map of the sacred meadow


this was the

land we were promised,

wasnt it? is Fresno

new Jerusalem? where

is Dallas? how wd Olson/

Pound/Tom Paine explain

Petaluma. Over & over Kirby Doyle


tells tale of his grandfather walking out

of the desert

his wife & two sons waiting in a wagon

(he had the mule)

& the boats

in Gloucester, Newfoundland & Greece

(the same)

the wood

carved in Alaska & New Guinea...

Over & over we seek that savage man

sufficient & generous; we find

Rockefeller, Nixon;

sad letters of Jefferson

mourning the ravaging of moundbuilders’ land

requesting his daughter not to neglect her French.

We; over & over; seeking line & form

gold-leaf as in Sienna

“outline” as Blake

we sit on shifting ground

at the edge of this ocean

“as far from Europe as you can get”

& watch the hills flicker like dreamskin


What we need to know is laws of time & space

they never dream of. Seek out

the ancient texts: alchemy

homeopathy, secret charts

of early Rosicrucians (Giordanisti).

Grok synchronicity Jung barely

scratched the surface of.



(remnants of pre-colonized pre-Roman Europe):

Insistent, hopeful resurgence of communards

free love & joy; “in god all things are common”

secret celebration of ancient season feasts & moons.

Rewrite the calendar.


Head-on war is the mistake we make

time after time

There is a way around it, way to outflank

technology, short circuit

“energy crisis”: retreat & silence


courage & love


Look to the cities, see how “urban renewal”

tears out the slums from the heart of town

forces expendable poor to the edges, to some

remote & indefensible piece of ground:

Hunters Point, Lower East Side, Columbia Point

out of sight, out of mind, & when bread riots come

(conjured by cutting welfare, raising prices)

the man wont hesitate to raze those ghettos

& few will see, & fewer will object.


First Observable Effects of So-Called “Energy Crisis” (Fall 1973)

1. off-shore drilling renewed, Santa Barbara & elsewhere

we can expect

new off-shore wells to be opened

regardless of consequences

2. price of crude oil shoots sky-high, making

the extraction of shale oil feasible (profitable)

which shale oil territory has been prepared

for exploitation by forcing beef prices up, advocating

beef boycots, forcing

smaller ranches toward bankruptcy

3. Peabody Coal plans to occupy Cheyenne land

on legal grounds they are “incapable”

of exploiting its “natural resource”, i.e.

dont wait to extract minerals at the cost

of all else

4. grim austerity consciousness

empty shelves & stiff upper lip

& plenty of hoarding, reminiscent

of early 40’s, conditioned reflex

right psychological climate for WW III

5. of course, police & military will have enough gas

& how will you like

to be stationary populace in the grip

of a mobile army?


Take a good look

at history (the American myth)

check sell out

of revolution by the founding fathers

“Constitution written by a bunch of gangsters

to exploit a continent” is what

Charles Olson told me.

Check Shay’s rebellion, Aaron Burr, Nathan Hale.

Who wrote the history books where you

went to school?

Check Civil War: maybe industrial north

needed cheap labor, South had it, how many

sincere “movement” people

writers & radicals played

into their hands?

Check Haymarket trial: it broke the back

of strong Wobblie movement: how many jailed, fined,

killed to stop that one? What’s happening to us

has happened a few times before

let’s change the script


What did it take to stop the Freedom Riders

What have we actually changed?

month I was born

they were killing onion pickers in Ohio

Month that I write this, nearly 40 years later

they’re killing UFW’s in the state

I’m trying somehow to live in. LET’S REWRITE

the history books.

History repeats itself

only if we let it.


check Science: whose interest does it serve?

whose need to perpetrate

mechanical dead (exploitable) universe

instead of living cosmos?


whose dream those hierarchies: planets & stars

blindly obeying fixed laws, as they desire

us, too, to stay in place

whose interest to postulate

man’s recent blind “descent” from “unthinking” animals

our pitiable geocentric isolation:

lone voice in the stars


what point in this cosmology but to drain

hope of contact or change

/oppressing us w/“reason”


Free Julian Beck

Free Timothy Leary

Free seven million starving in Pakistan

Free all political prisoners

Free Angela Davis

Free Soledad brothers

Free Martin Sobel. ....’

Free Sacco & Vanzetti

Free Big Bill Hayward

Free Sitting Bull

Free Crazy Horse

Free all political prisoners

Free Billy the Kid

Free Jesse James

Free all political prisoners

Free Nathan Hale

Free Joan of Arc

Free Galileo & Bruno & Eckhart

Free Jesus Christ:

Free Socrates

Free all political prisoners

Free all political prisoners

All prisoners are political prisoners

Every pot smoker a political prisoner

Every holdup man a political prisoner

Every forger a political prisoner

Every angry kid who smashed a window a political prisoner

Every whore, pimp, murderer, a political prisoner

Every pederast, dealer, drunk driver, burglar

poacher, striker, strike breaker, rapist

Polar bear at San Francisco zoo, political prisoner

Ancient wise turtle at Detroit Aquarium, political prisoner

Flamingoes dying in Phoenix tourist park, political prisoners

Otters in Tucson Desert Museum, political prisoners

Elk in Wyoming grazing behind barbed wire, political prisoners

Prairie dogs poisoned in New Mexico, war casualties

(Mass grave of Wyoming bald eagles, a battlefield)

Every kid in school a political prisoner

Every lawyer in his cubicle a political prisoner

Every doctor brainwashed by AMA a political prisoner

Every housewife a political prisoner

Every teacher lying thru sad teeth a political prisoner

Every Indian on reservation a political prisoner

Every black man a political prisoner

Every faggot hiding in bar a political prisoner

Every junkie shooting up in John a political prisoner

Every woman a political prisoner

Every woman a political prisoner

You are political prisoner locked in tense body

You are political prisoner locked in stiff mind

You are political prisoner locked to your parents

You are political prisoner locked to your past

Free yourself

Free yourself

I am political prisoner locked in anger habit

I am political prisoner locked in greed habit

I am political prisoner locked in fear habit

I am political prisoner locked in dull senses

I am political prisoner locked in numb flesh

Free me

Free me

Help to free me

Free yourself

Help to free me

Free yourself

Help to free me

Free Barry Goldwater

Help to free me

Free Governor Wallace

Free President Nixon.

Free J Edgar Hoover

Free them;

Free yourself

Free them

Free yourself

Free yourself

Free them

Free yourself

Help to free me

Free us


May 1968-Dec 1971.


Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1934, a second generation American of Italian descent. Her maternal grandfather, Domenico Mallozzi, was an active anarchist, and associate of Carlo Tresca and Emma Goldman. She began writing at the age of seven, and committed herself to a life as a poet at the age of fourteen. For the past thirty-four years she has lived in northern California, raising five children. In the late ’60s she took part in the political activities of the Diggers and is widely considered the most important woman writer of the Beat movement.