Greenpoint, October, 2015

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"I Went Southwest" - Lew Welch, Part II

Iain Sinclair tells the story well, at the end of a London Review of Books piece about Gary Snyder. In May 1971, Lew Welch had been visiting Snyder in Nevada County, in northern California. He planned to build a cabin on adjoining land, which he'd bought from Allen Ginsberg. He walked into the woods, taking Snyder's revolver and leaving this note in his parked car, along with many empty beer cans:
Truckee, CA (Courtesy
"I never could make anything work out right … I had great visions but never could bring them together with reality. I used it all up. It’s all gone … I have $2000 in Nevada City Bank of America – use it to cover my affairs and debts. I don’t owe Allen G. anything yet nor my mother. I went southwest. Goodbye."

They never found Welch's body or the gun. Leaving the car seems to me as meaningful as anything else in this sad story. Welch's poetry is riddled with references to driving, from the "Taxi Suite," cited earlier in this series, to one called "In Safeway Parking Lots, Old Men Drive Slowly. Backwards" (the title itself is a poem).

A late, previously uncollected poem appears in Ring of Bone: Collected Poems.

Sometimes I Talk to Kerouac When I Drive


Yesterday I thought of something
I never had a chance to tell you
and now I don't know what it was


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