Kenneth Patchen on audience

"I don't usually think of it [audience] in terms of people I know or people who are reading reviews, or buying books, or what-have-you. I'd like to just say that I hope my audience includes somehow... the spirits of some of the men now dead who worked in poetry and in the other arts and I don't feel that they're dead at all. This is perhaps a sentimental way of putting it, but it's a very real thing to me. I'm often consoled thinking about some of the poets and artists who have had no 'audience,' as people think of audience, someone like William Blake for instance... These men who were read by no one, known by no one in their time, yet command a hearing by men of spirit. And all artists have anyway, is this one little pinpoint of light in the darkness, the fact that out of all the morass of mediocrity and conformity there is this small current of communication, not with an audience limited or confined to a period of time, but an audience which resides solely in terms of the human spirit, and if anything lasts on earth, if is this, a small thing, but a thing which, until now at least, has sown more endurance than anything else that man has advanced before him, this small light, this small desire to be true, not so much to art, no man knows anything about that, but true to the best instincts and feelings in himself in regard to what he does. This thing to me is all of it, the rest of it just talk, hot air."

The Crying Woman

I was in my old room at a previous address with an Asian-looking woman. She seemed manic and was becoming gradually more hysterical. Her left leg was missing from the knee down.

At one point I went to my mom for help because I'd been trying to get the woman to leave, but she wouldn't. Nothing worked, and I was becoming exhausted.

Eventually, the woman threatened to kill herself, or maybe did it.

I left the room for just a moment and she'd vanished.


We flew to London in a small ship to meet her parents at a doctor’s office. Much of the city was underwater but looked amazing as we approached. Our pilot was an authoritative but gentle-seeming young woman who didn't smile much. It was a pleasant and quick flight.

At the doctor’s, She told her parents I had news for them. But I didn’t want to tell them my news, so instead I joked that the news was that She wasn’t pregnant. I felt self-conscious about my crooked and missing teeth as we all laughed.

Later, She and I ended up in a park. A younger couple was sitting at a table across the grass from us, making out and listening to generic hard rock music. A few moments later I was rubbing and scratching my back against a tree when I heard the boy saying something, so I turned around.

He was closer now and facing us.

Then we were all a lot closer.


I was afraid we may have eaten some bad tamales for dinner. I decided I would wait and see if She mentioned feeling sick at all before I said anything.

The Jumpers

I was in a rocky, mountainous area, and saw a man and woman painting the ground and walls of flat space between two cliffs, near a giant chasm. They were painting abstract patterns which were meant to be seen from a specific angle (the one from which I approached).

The man explained to me what they were doing, but was speaking a foreign language that I somehow understood.

The man (or possibly the woman) eventually jumped from the flat space, into the giant hole in the ground. Somehow the person who jumped had survived, climbed back onto the flat space and explained what they were doing.

He/she told me that they were jumping into a volcano, to their death, and they expected me to do the same.

So I jumped, but landed just a few feet down from the flat space and climbed back up.