A 21st Century Howl

A 21st Century Howl

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by…”
~ opening line of Howl by Allen Ginsberg

What sphinx of algorithms and data bashed open their skulls?
Moloch! Facebook! Moloch! Twitter! Moloch!
Moloch who promised an egalitarian utopia!

Moloch who makes our friends! Moloch who gives us followers!
Moloch who demands likes and shares!
Moloch who whispers FOMO!

Moloch whose eyes are cellphone cameras! Moloch whose ears are smart speakers!
Moloch whose blood is intimate information!
Moloch whose heart is advertising!

Moloch the deceiver! Moloch the marketer of outrage!
Moloch who prods lambs to electric anger!
Moloch who herds sheep to capitol riot!

We’re tracked by Moloch! We’re tagged by Moloch!
We’re fed into a cold database by Moloch!
We’re shredded to statistics by Moloch!

We gave Moloch our rapt attention! We gave Moloch our waking lives!
We broke our backs lifting Moloch to Heaven!
Time to let go.

I’m not sure if one needs to know Allen Ginsberg’s masterpiece, Howl, to enjoy this poem. I intend to pay homage and to update, specifically to the second section, where I steal some lines outright.

If you haven’t read Howl before, let me know if this work on it’s own and then go read Howl!

If you have read Howl before, is this just a cheap knock-off?

About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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12 Responses to A 21st Century Howl

  1. mbrazfieldm says:

    genius and poignant, bravo!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Cassa Bassa says:

    I never read Howl or his work and I like it. And I like your 21st century howl 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  3. JeanMarie says:

    I like your version a lot. It makes sense to me as a stand alone, even before I looked up Moloch. I had read Howl but it’s been a while so I went back to it. This isn’t a knock off of the original but more like an homage to it.


    Liked by 3 people

  4. Just as Ginsberg’s spoke to his time, your Howl speaks to this time. Excellent.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Howl for 2022 – Words from JeanMarie

  6. It’s new… it’s fresh… it speaks to what the Cyber World is doing to us when we worship at the feet of Moloch… I read Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” years ago, and I don’t find this a knock-off… yours stands alone, has its own flavor, and cuts just as deep…!

    Liked by 1 person

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