A Coney Island of the Mind, 13

Lawrence Ferlinghetti - 1919-
Not like Dante

                     discovering a commedia

                                                       upon the slopes of heaven

I would paint a different kind

                                           of Paradiso

in which the people would be naked

                                            as they always are

                                                                   in scenes like that

                                          because it is supposed to be

                                                                a painting of their souls

but there would be no anxious angels telling them

                      how heaven is

                                          the perfect picture of

                                                                       a monarchy

                    and there would be no fires burning

                                        in the hellish holes below

                            in which I might have stepped

                    nor any altars in the sky except

                                                               fountains of imagination

More by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Americus, Book I [excerpt]


I.

To summarize the past by theft and allusion
With a parasong a palimpsest
A manuscreed writ over
A graph of consciousness at  best
A consciousness of   felt life
A rushing together 
Of the raisins of wrath
Of living and dying
The laughter and forgetting
The maze and amaze of life.

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