Norman Mailer’s Poem to JFK


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

November 23, 1961, Vol. VII, No. 5

Open Poem to John Fitzgerald Kennedy

By Norman Mailer

is the hormone
of the small town mind

a fallout shelter
is sex

think how warm
at the thought
are all of Mr U
and little Mrs. USA
bonging the gong
while bigcity flesh
all that blond hair
and black hair
straight and long
short and highly curled
floating in through
the trees
a dew
of homogenized bone
and blood mist

atom bombs
are not so bad
says small-time
in the town mind
they disinfect
the big city
and jazz us to the toes
out here in God’s country

fingering is lovely
on the edge of the grave.

Mr. President
you realize of course
that your shelter program
for every home owner
is sexing up the countryside
and killing us in the
bigcity bar.
If this is good
for the vitality
of the nation
(I mean that countryside
could stand some sex)
then Mr. President
you are a genius
and corporation executives
living in the suburbs
with the five thousand
ought to salute you.
I do.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]