A Coney Island of the Mind, 6

Lawrence Ferlinghetti - 1919-
              They were putting up the statue
                           of Saint Francis
                      in front of the church
                           of Saint Francis
                                 in the city of San Francisco
           in a little side street
                                    just off the Avenue
                                                                   where no birds sang
             and the sun was coming up on time
                                                                    in its usual fashion
                        and just beginning to shine
                                                       on the statue of Saint Francis
                             where no birds sang

              And a lot of old Italians
                                                    were standing all around
                in the little side street 
                                                     just off the Avenue
                 watching the wily workers
                                                    who were hoisting up the statue
     with a chain and a crane
                                            and other implements
   And a lot of young reporters
                                                in button-down clothes
     were taking down the words
                                                of one young priest
         who was propping up the statue
                                                          with all his arguments

                  And all the while 
                                              while no birds sang
                                                                 any Saint Francis Passion
and while the lookers kept looking 
                                                   up at Saint Francis
           with his arms outstretched
                                                    to the birds which weren’t there
     a very tall very purely naked
                                                   young virgin
       with very long and very straight
                                                straw hair
          and wearing only a very small
                                                          bird’s nest
                in a very existential place
                                             kept passing thru the crowd
                                                                                    all the while
                          and up and down the steps 
                                                                 in front of Saint Francis
                her eyes downcast all the while
                                                                  and singing to herself

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