In Honour Of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

A wonderful poet, one of my favourites and by gum he lived a long life, 101 when he died on the 22nd February only two days ago. He was wry, funny and insightful. Read him, you’ll like his way with words.

Here is ‘Don’t Let that Horse’ which I am posting as an image because WP doesn’t make unusual layout for poems easy at all. More shall follow.

Thank you, Lawrence, you were all of that and a bag and chips to me. x

Underwear

I didn’t get much sleep last night
thinking about underwear
Have you ever stopped to consider
underwear in the abstract
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something we all have to deal with
Everyone wears
some kind of underwear
Even Indians wear underwear
Even Cubans
wear underwear
The Pope wears underwear I hope
The Governor of Louisiana wears underwear
I saw him on TV
He must have had tight underwear
He squirmed a lot
Underwear can really get you in a bind
You have seen the underwear ads for men and women
so alike but so different
Women’s underwear holds things up
Men’s underwear holds things down
Underwear is one thing
men and women do have in common
Underwear is all we have between us
You have seen the three-color pictures
with crotches encircled
to show the areas of extra strength
with three-way stretch
promising full freedom of action
Don’t be deceived
It’s all based on the two-party system
which doesn’t allow much freedom of choice
the way things are set up
America in its Underwear
struggles thru the night
Underwear controls everything in the end
Take foundation garments for instance
They are really fascist forms
of underground government
making people believe
something but the truth
telling you what you can of can’t do
Did you ever try to get around a girdle
Perhaps Non-Violent Action
is the only answer
Did Gandhi wear a girdle?
Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle?
Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep?

And the spot she was always rubbing –
Was it really her underwear?
Modern anglosaxon ladies
must have huge guilt complexes
always washing and washing and washing
Out damned spot
Underwear with spots very suspicious
Underwear with bulges very shocking
Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom
Someone has escaped his Underwear
May be naked somewhere
Help!
But don’t worry
Everybody’s still hung up in it
There won’t be no real revolution
And poetry still the underwear of the soul
And underwear still covering
a multitude of faults

in the geological sense –
strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks!
If I were you I’d keep aside
an oversize pair of winter underwear
Do not go naked into that good night
And in the meantime
keep calm and warm and dry
No use stirring ourselves up prematurely
‘over Nothing’
Move forward with dignity
hand in vest
Don’t get emotional
And death shall have no dominion
There’s plenty of time my darling
Are we not still young and easy?
Don’t shout.

The Bird With Two Right Wings

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games

at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They’re interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who’s busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that’s fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny

Number 8

It was a face which darkness could kill
in an instant
a face as easily hurt
by laughter or light

‘We think differently at night’
she told me once
lying back languidly

And she would quote Cocteau

‘I feel there is an angel in me’ she’d say
‘whom I am constantly shocking’

Then she would smile and look away
light a cigarette for me
sigh and rise

and stretch
her sweet anatomy

let fall a stocking

Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]

I am signaling you through the flames.
The North Pole is not where it used to be.
Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.
Civilization self-destructs.
Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?

The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.

You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words….