The Scroll is adding to our poetry output with Scroll Verse, a recurring feature that introduces the works of Jewish poets–or in some cases, poets who write on Tablet themes or have Jewish souls. Last week’s excellent poem was “Untitled,” by Talia Lavin. Our latest installment features a poem by Allen Lowe, updating Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”Hell: A Jew in MaineI lost my mind in Maine\nSending emails in deranged tongues\nTo organizations of the deaf and the dumb –\nTo Amy, Queen of Ovations, sipping tea\nOn Congress Street – oh Amy do you see the smoke across the water,\nThe late night calls, oh angry daughter\nof the monarch?I saw other minds of other generations\nWalking Portland streets, the empty page, no, the empty stage of life –\nIn Maine, where everything is closed on Sundays – and Mondays and every\nOther day; or the Space, where life is younger than the consciousness of life.\nI bared my soul to your stages, Amy, but\nyou sent my letters back – with accusation and lies, Amy.So here I sit, in Maine, in hell,\nNo hope left not even coins or wishing well.\nBleeding from my brain my mind the ears the eyes\nBoth eyes blinded\nBy Amy’s spear of sharpened light – unprotected day, or night\nI sit at my screen exposed to the infra red of the dying and the dead\nWho call me daily, to assemble with them in Congress Square –\nOr is it Longellow, where the poet watches performances by folkies saddened\nBy the end of folklore? Or does he see the tired world musicians who sit with oud and wail?Not all are dead here, most just stare with hollow eyes.\nBut the dead call me in my sleep and I answer “let me earn my keep”\nTo which they say you died the day you set foot in Portland –\nand I say nothing; they are right. They are right. They are right.Here homeless Jews cower in temples\nwhere the ink on Torah runs\nlike blood in the Minsk-like streets of Maine,\nof Maine where a Jew’s best days\nWere fueled by benzadrine and smoked weeds, if only they could\nBrave the light: take the pill and light the paper –\nFor tenements in Maine are in the mind –\nAnd prison here is in the mind – and dying here is in the mind,\nand death seems a spot on my left lobe –\nbut the mind has taken over.\nAmy do you hear me?\nVermont is where the lakes run over –\nMaine was where you took the high ground –\nwhy did you tell lies, in public, about the things I sent?I don’t know where the best minds of my generation have gone\nI only know my own mind leaks like a silver sieve –\nScattering Ideas that roll around my feet, so I kick them under the bed with\nthe books, the music, the dust balls and the last sentence\nthat I spoke before a dream took over and killed the last sentence\nthat I spoke.The schwitzes of the dead give off corpse-like steam\nThe automat is where I dreamt of Philo Farnsworth\nMan of tele- vision, Barbara told me – “meet his daughter.”\nWest end Avenue and Brownsville streets;\nAmy have you visited these places where my dead sleep?\nDo you know a thing of Dave Schildkraut and his friend Triglia,\nwho both now sleep In Bird’s nest, remembering, in sleep, their better days,\nWhen Lester Young told Dave he understood his ways?\nAmy do you know the life beyond the dancing troupes of grants and seminars,\nWhere unconscious scholars tell you what you already know?\nDid Julius just tell me that I shouldn’t care\nBecause his kidney never arrived and he sat up In bed and fell back down,\nAnd watched the ceiling sink into his heart?\nWhere were you, Amy, when that happened? Did you call the medics,\nDid you try to defibrillate before it was much, much too late?\n(so sorry Julius, that death came so soon; I keep your picture on my wall\nalone; I will not share the space).Amy did you sit with me at The West End when Dicky Wells\npointed his slide at the wall and sent a message to the ages?\nDid you hear Al Haig’s tales of Billy Berg’s, or of Bird’s last call?\nDid Tommy Potter open the door of his brownstone castle and\nTell you why Doris was Bird’s real wife? Did Percy France give you advice on life?\nDid you listen to Duke Jordan spit and curse, his voice cutting like a knife?\nDid Jaki Byard tell you, as a young 25, that he trusted you because you understood his life?\nDid you sit and talk of three bosses with Francis Paudras while Bill Evans lay\nin his coffin and Joe Puma took the stage?\nDid Curley Russell smile when he talked of side life in the shadow of Bird ?Or did Dizzy tell you tales of Schildkraut’s strange but genius ways?\nDid Walter Bishop narrate, for you, the Life of Bud Powell?\nDid Joe Albany mention casually as you eased along on the East Side Highway the horse-drugs he took, or the reason why, for 10 long years, he never spoke to Bird?\n( “I will call my autobiography ‘I Licked Bird’s Blood’ he says, in memory of needles shared.)\nDid Bill Triglia tell you of the Orthodox wedding where Bird showed up to play with him and Wilbur Ware, and where an old Jewish man, inspired by Bird song, danced on a table?\nDid Jackie McLean offer you a job?\nOr did you simply send my message back, Amy?Did you speak with Martin Luther King in Coney Island while the waves beat against the sand?\nDid you hear Dwight McDonald call your name?\nDid you share a stage with Eubie Blake or Roswell Rudd\nor with Doc, who once pushed the valves while Bessie sang?\nDid Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary stare you in the eye with lysergic innervision while 200,000 children of America screamed in unison for Nixon to fly away?\nDid you watch the Dead in Central Park in 1967 while Garcia drove the band, Pigpen gave them life, and thousands stared in disbelief?\nDid you stand next to Genet while Mingus fired his drummer?\ndid Charlie Haden explain to you, in 1969, with patient cadence, how he accompanied Ornette?\nDid you sit at Muddy Waters’ feet and feel the earth move? Did your mother tell you of the one-armed Wittgenstein who taught her, or of Ravel’s shimmering gift?\nOr did you simply send my message back, Amy?Because you knew I was long dead.\nA shade, a shadow, a body, not at rest\nBut a body just the same.\nDrained of fluid by the embalming Portland night;\nYou knew, Amy, that the dead cannot talk back\nYou knew, Amy that the dead cannot argue with the money in your hand\nYou knew, Amy that the dead cannot find an audience for their grievances\nYou knew, Amy that the dead have lost their voice\nYou knew, Amy that the dead are dead are dead are dead are dead.\nForever.Allen Lowe is a saxophonist, guitarist, and American music historian who has written extensively on jazz, the blues, country music, and American popular song. As a musician he has recorded with Marc Ribot, Julius Hemphill, Roswell Rudd, Matt Shipp, Erin McKeown, Doc Cheatham, David Murray, and Don Byron. His last CD, Blues and the Empirical Truth, was chosen as one of the Top 15 of 2011 by the New Republic, and his next CD, Autobiography of an Ex White Man, is due out this winter. He is currently trapped in South Portland, Maine.