The Changing Light

- 1919-
	The changing light at San Francisco
	                         is none of your East Coast light
	                                          none of your
	                                                                 pearly light of Paris
	The light of San Francisco
	                                                is a sea light
	                                                                      an island light
	And the light of fog
	                                    blanketing the hills
	                        drifting in at night
	                                     through the Golden Gate
	                                                          to lie on the city at dawn
	And then the halcyon late mornings
	                  after the fog burns off
	                          and the sun paints white houses
	                                                           with the sea light of Greece
	                                with sharp clean shadows
	                                       making the town look like
	                                                     it had just been painted
But the wind comes up at four o’clock
                                                                    sweeping the hills
And then the veil of light of early evening
And then another scrim
                                when the new night fog
                                                                          floats in
And in that vale of light
                                           the city drifts
                                                                    anchorless upon the ocean

More by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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....

A Far Rockaway of the Heart, 2

Driving a cardboard automobile without a license
                           at the turn of the century
             my father ran into my mother
                                               on a fun-ride at Coney Island
                  having spied each other eating
                                       in a French boardinghouse nearby
And having decided right there and then
                                         that she was for him entirely
       he followed her into
                                      the playland of that evening
          where the headlong meeting
                                         of their ephemeral flesh on wheels
                    hurtled them forever together 

And I now in the back seat
                                          of their eternity
                                                     reaching out to embrace them

A Coney Island of the Mind, 11

    The wounded wilderness of Morris Graves
           is not the same wild west
                                                   the white man found
It is a land that Buddha came upon 
                                               from a different direction
    It is a wild white nest
                              in the true mad north
                                                               of introspection
           where ‘falcons of the inner eye’
                                                             dive and die
                     glimpsing in their dying fall
                                                  all life’s memory
                                                               of existence
               and with grave chalk wing
                                                draw upon the leaded sky
      a thousand threaded images
                                                  of flight

It is the night that is their ‘native habitat’
  these ‘spirit birds’ with bled white wings
          these droves of plover
                              bearded eagles
                                           blind birds singing 
                                                             in glass fields
  these moonmad swans and ecstatic ganders
                                                                       trapped egrets
                                                   charcoal owls
                                                                       trotting turtle symbols
  these pink fish among mountains
                                                       shrikes seeking to nest
                       whitebone drones
                                                   mating in air
                among hallucinary moons
And a masked bird fishing
                                          in a golden stream
     and an ibis feeding
                                   ‘on its own breast’

           and a stray Connemara Pooka 
                                                           (life size)

And then those blown mute birds 
                                            bearing fish and paper messages
       between two streams
                                  which are the twin streams
                                                                           of oblivion
           wherein the imagination
                                             turning upon itself
             with white electric vision
                                           refinds itself still mad
                            and unfed
                                            among the hebrides

Related Poems

We Are Americans Now, We Live in the Tundra

Today in hazy San Francisco, I face seaward
Toward China, a giant begonia—

Pink, fragrant, bitten
By verdigris and insects. I sing her

A blues song; even a Chinese girl gets the blues,
Her reticence is black and blue.

Let’s sing about the extinct
Bengal tigers, about giant Pandas—

“Ling Ling loves Xing Xing…yet,
We will not mate. We are

Not impotent, we are important.
We blame the environment, we blame the zoo!”

What shall we plant for the future?
Bamboo, sassafras, coconut palms? No!

Legumes, wheat, maize, old swine
To milk the new.

We are Americans now, we live in the tundra
Of the logical, a sea of cities, a wood of cars.

Farewell my ancestors:
Hirsute Taoists, failed scholars, farewell

My wetnurse who feared and loathed the Catholics,
Who called out

            Now that half-men have occupied Canton
            Hide your daughters, lock your doors!