Paul Thornquist

Beautiful Kids

6th Ave

When I moved to NYC in 1979 my first roommate-friend was Paul Thornquist. He was from Milwaukee, an artist and reluctant Punk. He taught me how to be an artist, writer and better Man. We lost touch in the 80s, going our seep rate ways. When I rode through the village the other day I saw so many young men who looked like us: confused, overconfident and alive with youth. Johnny 19 died of Aids some while ago, but I think of him often. The haikus below are are a meditation on our youth living on in this new crop of New York Youth. In some way they are our children.

1. We have beautiful/
Children you and I Johnny/
Here in the future/

2. The styles we fought for/
By refusing to fit in/
Have become the norm/

3. You said “the only/
Real punks can’t avoid looking/
Like punks: thrift store style/

4. “Those St. Marks peacocks/
Their lacquered rainbow Mohawks/
Are just copy cats”*/
*Just want attention/

5. “Real Punks can’t help it/
They just refuse to conform/
Collect together/

6. The punk we fought for/
Was to be left all alone/
Not to be on stage/

7. Some: drunks and junkies/
Lost are just punk refuseniks/
Opting out on life/

8. The “life” they avoid/
Is a purchase driven sham/
Of “thing” defined”selves”/

9. Not some suicide/
But a punk affirmation/
Sharp-loud sensation/

10. They search out beauty/
In the detritus of life/
Where consumers can’t/

11. They are our children/
Though AIDs killed your thin body/
And I just conformed/

12. Our rebellious selves/
“Live” on in these new people/
Doing what we did/

13. They ride on track bikes/
Call them “fixies” (that’s the style)/
“affirming” city/
# haiku

14. Track bike aesthetics/
reject the baroque pullies/
Of derailieured bikes/

15. They are our children/
With their wheat pasted xerox/
Pictures of icons/

16. You glued Sargent Rock/
All over the West Village/
Called him a great faG/

17. Christopher Street/
They are still fucking outside/
Just like you once did/

18. Yes, we have children/
Although we never made love/
They still came to be/

19. Everybody/
Parents a generation/
Not just D.N.A/

20. Biological/
Parents donate a culture/
That kids must reject/

21. That is how they’re ours/
We provide the rebellion/
From biology/

22. My own “real” children/
Must reject my whole world view/
To become themselves/

23. They will have “style dads”/
Who will help them to become/
Who they want to be/

24. I wish you could see/
How you live on Paul Thornquist/
In New Yorkers’ style/


9 responses to “Paul Thornquist

  1. I am sorry to hear about Paul’s death, but these haikus celebrate his life, poems 9 and 24 especially.

  2. Funny, R. I think of the haiku as a series and 9 wouldn’t make sense without 8 and 10. Any thoughts about this “codependence of haikus?”

  3. Paul was my brother. How wonderful to unlock this little part of his life. I’m glad you knew each other.

    • Paul was my buddy and mentor. He taught me so much. I am glad you saw this and I miss him so much, though we drifted even before he passed. I’ll email you later. ( is this the central American field work brother?)

  4. Paul was my uncle. I just lost a young friend who also loved ‘alternative’ music, rebellion, and challenging the dominant culture. I love the conception of “children” that goes beyond the biological. We are all inspired from both within, and without, our biological families. Thank you for sharing this.

    • I am so sorry for your loss.
      I hope you can keep living a life your friend would be happy to know and hang out with.
      It’s been decades since I’ve seen Paul, but I still think of him regularly & remember lessons he taught me in the village in 1981.

  5. I met Paul in 1971 in the suburb of Milawukee where we grew up. He was truly inspired to venture onto the skinny branches. There was a bunch of us who were cultural adventurers in a place without a lot of culture. Although a pretty soft spoken guy Paul was in the front looking, seeking, and experimenting. A couple years out of high school we mostly lost touch alb tough I did see him him NYC a couple of times. I think of him often and am indebted to him for setting an example of exploration and curiosity like Marco Polo….

    • Glen,
      Thanks for your comment: I am digressing now. In 1976 in my neighborhood in Boston David Waters stabbed his best friend Eruc Warner to death (stupid childhood accident?) and I first met death. I told myself then, at 16, that I was now obliged to live every day for Eric, who had been gypped out of his life. This has been a mainspring of my life’s philosophy ever since. I continue to explore and enjoy New York, Music and Art for Paul with a ravenous curiosity. Often when I hear a new song or read a new book I think of how Paul would’ve liked it. I went to the Warhol show at The Queens Museum (that included a lot of ephemera like our apartment was full of) and felt strongly of Paul’s 15 minutes that never came: I miss him.

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