The Yage Letters / An Excerpt

January 15, 1953
Hotel Colon, Panama
Dear Allen,

I stopped off here to have my piles out. Wouldn't do to go back among the Indians with piles I figured...I checked into the hospital junk sick and spent four days there. They would only give me three shots of morphine and I couldn't sleep from pain and heat and deprivation besides which there was a Panamanian hernia case in the same room with me and his friends came and stayed all day and half the night - one of them did in fact stay until midnight.

Recall walking by some American women in the corridor who looked like officers' wives. One of them was saying, "I don't know why, but I just can't eat sweets."

"You've got diabetes, lady," I said. They all whirled around and gave me an outraged stare.

After checking out of the hospital I stopped off at the U.S. Embassy. In front of the Embassy is a vacant lot with weeds and trees where boys undress to swim in the polluted waters of the bay home of a small venomous sea snake. Smell of excrement and sea water and young male lust. No letters. I stopped again to buy two ounces of paregoric. Same old Panama, whores and pimps and hustlers.

"Want nice girl?"
"Naked lady dance?"
"See me fuck my sister?"

No wonder food prices are high. They can't keep them down on the farm. They all want to come in the big city and be pimps.

I had a magazine article with me describing a joint outside Panama City called The Blue Goose. "This is anything goes joint. Dope peddlers lurk in the men's room with a hypo loaded and ready to go. Sometimes they dart out of a toilet and stick it in your arm without waiting for consent. Homosexuals run riot."

The Blue Goose looks like a Prohibition era roadhouse. A long one story building run down and covered with vines, I could hear frogs croaking in the woods and swamps around it. I remembered a prohibition era roadhouse of my adolescence, and the taste of gin rickey's in the mid west summer. (Oh my God! And the August moon in a violet sky and Billy Bradshinkel's cock. How sloppy can you get?)

Immediately, two old whores sat down at my table without being asked and ordered drinks. The bill for one round was $6.90. The only thing lurking in the men's room was an insolent demanding lavatory attendant. I may add that far from running riot in Panama I never scored for one boy there. I wonder what a Panamanian boy would be like. Probably cut. When they say anything goes, they are referring to the joint, not the customers.

(The Yage Letters, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, c. 1963.)

Copyright 2002-2008 by Burroughs-Ginsberg/

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