Downfall and Abandonment
“An Open Poem to the Prophets and Their Apostles” is a scathing criticism of the leaders of the Summer of Love and their idealistic, yet inefficient and actually detrimental, movement of free love and open communes. The Haight-Ashbury district quickly became overcrowded and the notions of the movement led to starvation and despair instead of hope and prosperity. The poem talks about the “turned on kids” who have bought into the drug culture of the time, yet they have been exposed to a series of maladies such as sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, and sexual exploitation. While the movement started with promise and positivity, it quickly devolved into gloom and misery.
While the Summer of Love set out to attract people who were tired of mainstream culture and establish a society free of cultural norms and requirements, the overwhelming drug use and lack of productivity of its inhabitants led to the quick destruction of the center of its existence – the Haight-Ashbury district. People were not able to fend for themselves, as they had to scrap for food from its few available sources, live in overcrowded rooms, and were exposed to many diseases, both sexually transmitted and otherwise. The movement that tried to enlighten people and establish a viable counterculture failed in creating a safe or productive environment, which ultimately led to its downfall. By the fall of 1967, the Haight-Ashbury district had been largely abandoned, leaving only a trail of destruction as evidence of the Summer of Love that had started with such hope and promise.