Revolutionary Letter #8 – Diane di Prima

Revolutionary Letter #8 – Diane di Prima

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 this 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

Ellen Bass – Relax

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat —
the one you never really liked — will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up — drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs halfway down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice — one white, one black — scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.