A Supermarket in California
by Allen Ginsberg
A Supermarket in California Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys. I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel? (4-5)
The speaker imagines that Whitman is a lonely old man who hits on grocery boys. Is this how the speaker sees himself as well? Will he grow up to be a Whitman?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective. We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier. (6-7)
The speaker imagines that he and Whitman are outlaws—they steal food! They're hunted by the store detective! Perhaps he sees themselves as poetry outlaws, too. After all, Whitman's poetic techniques were way outside the box in his day.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight? (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.) (8-9)
The speaker looks to Whitman as a source of knowledge, and asks for advice about the direction of his life. He feels a bit silly about it all, though. He thinks of Whitman's famous book Leaves of Grass, and feels pretty silly about the whole supermarket scenario that he's been imagining.