Allen Ginsberg is remembered as perhaps the most influential queer poets of his time. Writing during the post World War II era and having led a full life which included drugs and a brief period of time in a mental institution, Ginsberg has all the makings of an intimate wordsmith full of experience.
Ginsberg was a prolific writer and many of his poems can be found here.
Among his multi-faceted works are included several poems directly speaking about sex. One of his more graphic poems, “Please Master,” describes a scene between a Master and sex slave of the BDSM world. BDSM refers to a kink community that can incorporate any or all of the following; Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism.
Check out the full poem here.
Alternatively, listen to Allen Ginsberg reading his poem via this video.
To read this poem is to become the sex slave, as the poem is written in in first person by the submissive partner. Over and over again as we read we beckon for the Master to give us permission. At first the poem starts out gentle, like foreplay; “can I touch your cheek… can I kneel at your feet.” Then we ask the Master for clothes to be removed; “can I have your thighs bare to my eyes…can I take off my clothes below your chair.” As the sexual act progresses we ask the Master for permission to “…pass my face to your balls…” and “…to lick your thick shaft…” The act has progressed to oral sex, however we beckon the Master for more, eventually culminating in anal sex until the Master comes. As the poem continues the requests of the Master become more graphic, “more violent.” The rigid “Please Master can I…” structure becomes a little less rigid and the sentences become longer. This feels a little more wild like the sexual act itself would feel.
The poem is such a beautiful description of a BDSM sexual scene between two men. There is “tenderness” in the act as their is in the poem describing the “sweat fuck.” Despite a very clear power dynamic in this poem and in BDSM, we read the pleasure that the submissive partner receives; “please master make me go moan on the table.” The submissive position that Ginsberg is describing is not one of oppression or degradation. It is one of pleasure giving and pleasure receiving. It is one of having power and giving it to the Master by asking for permission. It is one of conversation and openness (something that BDSM communities assert in every sexual encounter).
A major point being emphasized here is the power and pleasure received by a man who gives himself fully to his male partner. This is much like the anonymously written essay “Cocksucker” which was published in the Boston gay magazine, Fag Rag, in 1971. This essay opens with the discussion of how men who get fellatio are thought of as more masculine, but men who give fellatio are thought of negatively because “who would want to suck the cock of someone who had sucked the cock of every male in the room?” However, to be the submissive partner is not something that should be frowned upon or thought of negatively. It is the submissive partner in this poem who tells the Master what to do and sets up the entire scene to be pleasurable for both parties; and in a sexual act, is that not the very essence of power?
Another fantastically sexual poem by Allen Ginsberg is “Sphincter” which you can read here.
In this poem Ginsberg talks about his anal rectum, just as one might assume given the title. At the beginning of the poem, Ginsberg reflects on how over the past 60 years his sphincter has served him well. He hasn’t experienced any major medical complications, and it has been very receptive to pleasurable insertables.
This poem touches briefly on a more somber topic of queer sexuality; the AIDS epidemic. Ginsberg says in his poem that he will have to start using condoms to protect himself:
Now AIDS makes it shy, but still
eager to serve –
out with the dumps, in with the condom’d
As the poem comes to a close he looks towards the future hoping to still have an active, healthy sex life into his old age. He recognizes however that age can create changes to his sex life as he begins to experience aches and pains, yet he “Hope the old hole stays young/ till death, relax.”
Again with Sphincter as with Please Master, Ginsberg writes about empowerment through submission to other men. In Sphincter he speaks of his body part as “eager, receptive to phallus,” and he says he is “unashamed wide open for joy.”
Through both poems readers gain a sense of power through pleasure. Tearing down the fallacy that a man being receptive and submissive to another man in sex is a strong message being incorporated into these two erotic poems.
If you like all of this, check out the Allen Ginsberg Project.