Monday, May 31, 2010

Fare thee well dear Peter

[Cover image: Elsa Dorfman]

Snail Poem

Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired and handsome felt.
Grave root pillow, tung up from grave & wigle at blown up clowd.
Ear turnes close to underlayer of green felt moss & sound
of rain dribble thru this layer
down to the roots that will tickle my ear.
Hay grave, my toes need cutting so file away in sound curve or
Garbage grave, way above my head, blood will soon
trickle into my ear –
no choice but the grave, so cat & sheep are daisey turned.
Train will tug my grave, my breath hueing gentil vapor between weel & track
So kitten string & ball, jumpe over this mound so gently & cutely
So my toe can curl & become a snail & go curiousely on its way.

1958 NYC (Peter Orlovsky from Clean Asshole Poems & Smiling Vegetable Songs City Lights, SF)

Peter died yesterday morning at 11:30 am. We are working on the funeral arrangements now, which will take place at the Karme Choling Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont. Most likely on Tuesday, June 1. Judy and I-and particularly Peter- appreciate all your support and good wishes.

-- Chuck Lief

There will be a Buddhist Sukhavati Ceremony at 5pm, Tuesday, June 1, at Karme Choling, Buddhist Retreat Center, in Barnet VT.
This is open to the public

Thanks to Chuck and Judy for taking such good care of Peter, and thanks to Peter for loving Allen, for all the poetry and song and organic vegetables, and for being so sweet to me when I was a kid-poet. Goodbye, dear Peter.

-- Steve Silberman

Anne Waldman: Death of Peter Orlovsky

“The Shellean farmer astride hid Pegasusian tractor” as Gregory Corso once knighted him passed on today, May 30 2010 to the elysian fields, a bardo of becoming. First glance hour earlier Peter was resting with “trach” in throat in orange sheets at the kind Vt Respite Center in Williston, Vermont ( but no extra tubes/ heroic measures for this advanced cancer on his lung!), a copy of the Songs of Saraha by his pillow, photo of beloved Allen Ginsberg companion of many years on the wall, other Buddhist images, iPod of music he loved including chants by Buddhist nuns, cards from friends and out the window a bird feeder with finch and red-winged blackbirds landing/taking off. Chuck and Judith Lief, faithful guardians and friends at his side. He had been moved less than 48 hours earlier from intensive care at a hospital in Boston, finally to hospice. His body we were touching we noticed suddenly turned cold like death was in the room. We got the nurse. Judy and I stepped out when suddenly Chuck called us back. Peter had opened his eyes. Chuck said “It might be the last time”. By his side now, looking into his eyes told out love, I thanked him for his presence in our lives, his poetry his care and love for Allen, his work at Naropa. Ah, I thought a flash of recognition shivering through! slight movement of mouth, light coming in on his handsome face through the window now, and Judy singing om a hum vajra guua padma siddhi hum in crystal voice said “don’t be afraid”. Joined in. Last breathes, one coming late, staggered: his heart/breath stopt. Poet Christina Lovin in room with nurse gave gentle witness who checked the clock 11:39 I think or so a.m. Earlier we’d played recording of Peter singing his Raspberry Song with great heart-soaring yodel and “how sweet you are”. “Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired and handsome felt” ( “The Snail”). Tibetan Book of the Dead readings, in full final repose arranged with blue shirt, hands folded, consciousness a joyful gardener sprite? no fear, no fear working its way out…

Anne Waldman 5.30.2010
Vt Studio Center

[Peter Orlovsky, San Francisco, 1955. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky, San Francisco, 1955. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky, Venice, September 1957. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky & Gregory Corso, likely at Maurice Girodias' nightclub 7 rue St. Sevrin, Paris 1961. Photo c. David Hamburger]

[Peter Orlovsky, Calcutta, 1962. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovksy and beggar woman, Calcutta, 1962. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky & Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frank's Studio, NYC 1984. Photo c. Brian Graham]

[Peter Orlovsky, St. Johnsbury, VT 2006. Photo: John Sarsgard]


  1. I am beginning to feel
    old and vulnerable ...
    and sad

    things/people that I have connected with here and there
    are gone and/or going... but for my memories and library

  2. Thank you for the insights into Peter's last hours. The writing is beautiful. And the inclusion of his poem shows what a fine writer he was himself.

  3. What a lovely man he was. Rest in peace.