Beatnik Duncan, cat burglars and full moons

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First Full Moon of the New Year

If you have a calendar, you have an invitation. Just circle the first Saturday night after the first full moon of every new year. This year the first Saturday was the first full moon so I thought it was a well-fated night to attend my first beatnik cat burglar party.

The beatnik cat burglar party  may be the longest running poetic event in Beaufort County, at least according to David Adams, the underground, unofficial leader of this throwback group of hippies and appreciators of Beatnik poetry. The only rules are there has to be a bonfire, words must be spoken and black must be worn. At times during the history of the beatnik cat burglar party there have been rumors of all-nighters, scantily-clad women and full-throated R-rated poetry.  I can’t attest to that, but I can tell you that nobody blinked an eyelash when I threw out the first P-bomb of the evening. (That’s the word “penis” used in the service of poetry) Actually, I should give Duncan Miller the credit. I was reading some passages from his unpublished novel, “The Air-Drawn Dagger.”

Duncan’s work was rejected by the New York publishing world, and I’m not sure he ever submitted to the good people at City Lights because he might not have considered his work counter-cultural or beatnik at all. But when a group of my sisters-by-Byrne gathered to read some of his books, we all got that impression. Duncan wrote six novels from 1933 to his death in 1992 and if he was as well-read as he was prolific he surely was influenced by the likes of Anaïs Nin, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg.

So at the beatnik cat burglar party twenty years after Duncan Miller’s death, I took the liberty of excerpting four separate passages from the book he began writing when he lived in Santa Fe (yes, Byrne and Duncan were that cool, contemporaries of Georgia O’Keefe) Judging from the sounds of fingers snapping around a bonfire, Duncan might have had more success as a beat poet.

From Air-Drawn Dagger

Am I mad?

or are my nerve endings stretched wire thin

acting as antennae picking up the sounds stored in my cortical library

always ready to respond to the push button pressure

of my penis?


I am no longer an air-borne spore but

a parasitic growth that must suck on the vitals of others

to survive


I have only been half alive til now –

that I feel the winds blowing against parts of me never exposed or even suspected before.

with buffetings of fear that shake articulated bones against areas of heart

I never knew I had,

hurricanes of love roaring in caverns, the depths of which

I have never plumbed before.

I am at last

Naked to the world!


Perhaps it is strange that I do not remember her name

or see her face yet see the opal in her hands clearly.

But that may be the way of memory which, like a river rolling on to its mouth

picks up debris along the way.


Word. Duncan.


Noun 1. beatnik - a member of the beat generationbeatnik – a member of the beat generation; a nonconformist in dress and behavior

beat generationbeatniksbeats – a United States youth subculture of the 1950s; rejected possessions or regular work or traditional dress; for communal living and psychedelic drugs and anarchism; favored modern forms of jazz (e.g., bebop)
recusantnonconformist – someone who refuses to conform to established standards of conduct


4 thoughts on “Beatnik Duncan, cat burglars and full moons

    Artemus_Prime said:
    January 31, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    May have been ur first BeatnikCatburglar party but One would never think it ur first Beat Lik. Thx for sharing Duncan’s words. As usual, was good to see your shape in a drape, and Citizen Gary – we can always use a Claws Sharp Cat in the bag. Nothin L7 about That, you dig? Which reminds me, looking forward to ur interpretive Cat Burglar Danze next year!
    Right on, Write on!


    Shrews said:
    January 31, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    funny irony to life sometimes…: Originally it was the Catburglar Beatnik party…because, when the idea came up at Emily’s one late, LATE night we were saying we were Beatniks who slink around like Catburglars ( not Catburglars who sneak around like Beatniks)! Somehow the translation got skewed over the years.

    …but damn what a party. I remember at the first one, David Adams and I ended up sharing a bottle of rum on the beach at Lands End as the sun came up. It was AWESOME. The second one is a blur from beginning to end but I do recall dropping acid and accusing some random guy I didn’t even know of being a undercover narc!…it rained like hell too, but I don’t remember it being that cold…I seem to also remember someone saying they saw the phantom red lights on Lands End road that night too…some of the best people on the planet and some of the worst poetry — mine specifically: here is the first stanza, at least how I remember it, from the first poem I wrote for that inaugural CBP.

    moonlight raining drops of dreams
    puddles forming at my feet
    catburglar beatniks fill the air
    and there and there
    and there and there

    embarrassing now, but seemed like gold to me back then. alcohol and drugs helped.

    by the way…I think someone still has the original flyer for this. I’ll see if I can dig it up. It was a cool graphic. I wonder if it is still in use.


    teresabrucebooks said:
    January 31, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Bring on the beat flyer!


    Artemus_Prime said:
    January 31, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Those early parties are like Vegas…don’t reveal too much…breathe deeply, with eyes closed…smile quietly. Oh by the way, I’ve seen a couple of those flyers around…


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