Poem| Akhu Chingangbam

Artwork : Matthew Bialer 

Embrace Me Burma

Burma, if you have a heart
Embrace me please
I have stopped looking at my own shoes
Now I look beyond these lofty mountains
I see nothing in them except a handful of useless dust
I stop looking towards west
To me it is all just a waste
I stop leaning on India
Delhi crushed me among its skyscrapers and DTC buses
Mumbai left me stranded in the railway tracks
Bangalore didn't let me smoke at my own will
Kolkata is perpetually revolutionary.
Tamil Nadu is still mourning for Prabhakaran
Madhya Pradesh is still a nightmare after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Gujarat is for Modi and his fundamentalism
Pune is for Marathis
And we have been the niggers of India;
Read Pacha. 

Burma if you need a lover
That's me
Embrace me
kiss me please
Let me spread my wings in your poppy fields
Let me sail in your smallest river with all my songs
Let me cry out all the tears that I save in this punctured heart
Let me shit out what I have eaten
I have eaten what did not grow in my land
I ate hilsha from the Barak River
I ate wheat that grows in Uttar Pradesh
I slept on the mattress that was made in Delhi
I sang Guthrie and Seeger
I wear VIPs
I drank 8pm from Haryana at 8am in morning
I danced to the songs of Indian Ocean
I climbed the Western Ghats with Iranians
I smoked the dry leaves of Manali
I watched both Hollywood and Bollywood movies
And still I was my own man standing alone
Singing "Ema Nangumbi Leite"

Now, I can't praise my land with my poverty
Now I need a new land
That can erase my appetite and memories
And Burma that's you
You are the closest. 

Burma, let me see your prisons
And feel I suffer less
Less than your outlaws and criminals
I was told you dump your criminals in a Polang
Like chickens in Chingmeirong Bazaar

Burma, embrace me
Let me wear that bamboo hat
Like farmers that farm everything
You will not regret to be my lover
No great poet wrote a line for your Tamu
And cheap sex inside your wooden cabin.
But I do, if you don't believe me
Look at e-pao.net
You will find me whistling, singing
Like my favourite gay poet:
Go fuck yourself with your AFSPA
Along the Indo-Myanmar border. 

Burma, just give me  shelter
You are the closest.
Let me measure the angles of the Golden Triangle
Let me snort cocaine, let me smell you
Let me bleed out all this blood
That this heart churns, breathing oxygen,
That comes out from the dead, fake revolutions. 

I will pretend I love no monks
I will pretend I hate protests
(I will close my eyes when they kill your Rohingyas)
Drown in Seven-Year- Old Monk,
with all its bitterness.

I even hate that U2's song on Aung Sang Suu Kyi
I don't know what the freedom fighters do in your Jungles
I haven't heard about a single hero of guerrilla warfare
Who emerged from your jungle.
But I know what I can do with myself
If you provide me shelter and a guitar
A blank page and a poppy flower,

Embrace me, Burma!
You will find me very fine. 


Poems | Sameera Rashid

Artwork : Matthew Bialer 



Fly swans
and the lake waters
mirroring angular flights
the  tremulous moments


Beach sand-worms
burrow patterns
onto the fossilized footprints
time’s scripts
are redrawn


Clocks ‘for sale’
on the roadside stalls
time trapped in dials
peeping inside
I move the needle of hushed memories


Whirling Alastonia leave
collides mid-air
with the pigeon feather
rustle in the silent grove
lovelorn songs


An old man strolls today
in temple ruins
or was it yesterday?
for him
time flows in a Minotaur maze

I pinch lover’s body
to draw out
a few drops of comfort    
I inhale some and fall asleep
Ends lovemaking


Himalayan winds
rustling through the birch trees
icy heartbreaks
and spent passions


As leaves depart
the frangipani tree
autumn sun
the lonesome flowers


TSC Interviews| Brian Hassett

Kevin Pennington (KP) Interviews Brian Hassett(BH) for The Sunflower Collective.

Kevin had the chance to digitally sit down with Brian Hassett of Beat Generation and Merry Pranksters' fame. Brian attended in 1982 the largest gathering of Beats in Boulder, Colorado. He is the author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac: The Adventure of the Boulder '82 On The Road Conference - Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin' in the Rockies".

KP: Do you consider the Beat Generation a specific literary and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

BH: Good question.  I gotta say it's both.  There are some who are very strict about who and what is Beat.  They usually have a cut-off year.  Gregory Corso was funny in that he thought anybody who came along after him in 1955 was totally out of the game.   

It was a literary/artistic movement . . . but it's also a state of mind.  I'm Beat.  I meet late-teens / early-20's people all the time now, and some of them are Beat in how they think and live — yet they may have never read a single one of the authors.  Similarly, I meet young people who are Pranksters, whether they've ever heard of Ken Kesey or not.  When Kesey was asked, "How does someone become a Prankster?"  he answered, "We just recognize each other."

I think that's true for both Pranksters & Beats.  In fact, I'll meet someone who's got Abbie Hoffman's* spirit surging through them — and they've never heard of him.

The reason is because this stuff is resonant and eternal — it's why it's still with us today in so many ways.  The founding fathers of both movements were tapping into an immortal Spirit.  Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia were channels — antenna picking up the signal, real clear — and broadcasting it back to the world.

But it was here before them — the Surrealists, Chaplin, the Jazz Vipers, the Ragtime scenes, and even Michelangelo and the gang got up to some pretty crazy shit in Florence back in the day.  We're just the current choir tuning into the eternal frequency of creative, passionate, playful bodhisattvas.

KP: What is the story of how you became a Beat?

BH: Well, I just wrote a whole book about this — "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac" - how I hitchhiked from Vancouver to Boulder in 1982 for the largest gathering of the Beats that ever happened.  It was "follow your dreams to the living rooms of your heroes" — because I ended up getting invited back to my hero Ken Kesey's home in Oregon.

It took a book to answer this question.  

KP: How does the underlying philosophy of On the Road impact you?

BH:  I live "on the road" — whether traveling or not.  It's about the search, the journey, discovery, curiosity ... and also work.  I mean, the work of writing the book.  As a writer myself, I know the work that goes into it, and what Jack went through to get that book out, all the drafts, all the stay-at-home-ness, the focus, the voice, the work.

Which also connects to the Joan Anderson (in a related conversation earlier-ed) letter you were asking about.  That was the letter Neal wrote to Jack in Dec. 1950; that was the lightbulb revelation for Jack and changed his approach to writing — which was coming anyway — but that letter was the kick in the head.  Write your novels like long letters to a friend — like you're sitting in a bar telling somebody a story.  And then he taped together these 12-foot long strips of tracing paper he found left over in a friend's apartment and could write without stopping to change pages.  But anyway — it's about the work.  He had to stop chasing chicks, stop running around, stay home and get it down.  I used to live too much and not get enough work done.  Now that I'm a little older & wiser, I make sure there's lots of writing / work-time scheduled into my life.

On The Road is about Adventure.  It's Huck Finn with cars.  Reading it was proof other people before me were going through the same experiences in life — on the road — hitting it.  I grew up in a small mid-western town in Canada — and the only way out if you're poor and young was The Road.  And here was somebody who'd written a book about it — just as The Grateful Dead were playing the soundtrack. (see chapters 13 & 14

KP: You were recently a speaker at the Beat Shindig. What was that experience like?

BH: I wrote a story about it on my website. It was amazing, wonderful, creative, connective, playful, silly, informative, happy, tank-filling and spirit-reinforcing.

The Beat Museum has this perfect vibe — exactly what I'd try to have if I ever did something like that.  A clubhouse, or hangout, and bookstore, and museum, and salon.  It was all emanating from there and taking over North Beach. I love those collective gatherings — like what Boulder '82 was — like what you can find when a bunch of like-minded people get together — your tribe.  And then go dancing with them, metaphorically and otherwise.  

I got to finally meet and hang with Al Hinkle!  One of those dream-come-true events.  And spend lots of time with the Cassadys — who took me to Kesey's house in La Honda!  It was pretty dream-like.  And Ruth Weiss and Gerd Stern and all these cool people I'd never met — but the lasting feeling for me was from all the people you've never heard of who were just there.  The power of the collective.  Everything from kids to old folks.  They've all got the twinkle.  They all get the joke.

And that's why you should always go to one of these gatherings when they happen.   

KP: Can you describe your connection to the Merry Pranksters?

BH: From the time I was a teenager, I was part of a collective of people putting on real Acid Tests in Winnipeg circa 1977-79.  Long story, but we'd rent a hall or church, have multiple bands, light shows, and lots of electric kool-aid.  We did them, directly inspired by everything we'd been able to learn back in the pre-digital days about the original Tests.  And we pulled it off with swirling colors.  Then I moved to Manhattan in 1980, and met and worked with my other hero besides Kesey, Bill Graham.  Once I realized I could do that, I set out to meet Kesey in the summer of '82.  Again, that's what the book is about, including how I ended up running the projector at their first-ever "Kesey & Babbs Present Cassady" show. (ch. 15)   Then got invited back to his house after it was over, and we stayed in touch on and off forever after that.  (ch. 29-31)

I hooked up with the new Prankster scene at (Max) Yasgur's farm in 2014 when his son Zane took The Bus out on the 50th anniversary tour of the famous '64 trip.  (story about it here ) That year the Bus was a giant magnet that was pulling all these human iron shavings out of their hidden hovels all around the country — all these people who "got it" but didn't know anybody else who did.  But they knew to go to The Bus.  And from there, everybody met, then stayed connected ever since, and now there's Prankster "chapters" all around the country doing crazy shit, and connecting with other groups, and collaborating in festivals and one-off shows . . . there's quite a vibrant, heartening scene going on out there — all over the continent, all the time.  

Over the years, I ended up becoming friends with a few of the original Bus krewe ... just spent a bunch of time with George Walker on the "Going Furthur" film tour ... and they've all still got the original spirit that put them On The Road and On The Bus in the first place. 



* A 60's peacenik and political activist 


Poem | Pongkhi Bujporbarua

Photo : Lee La


Sundays are about to explode
Mondays are a rhombus
Not sure which way they are tilted
Tue wed thu fri
Diced and cooked, rolling in flavors
Saturdays have a sloped tin roof
Rainwater streaking neatly down the undulations

Endless iteration of contours
Incidence, emotion, memory, experience
Emotion, memory, incidence, incidence2
Experience, emotion, memory, experience2
No convergence, number of iterations exceeded

Hard shell suitcase
Petite xs
Upholstery in the late 30s
Through the scanner
Hope detected.