On the Death of Ferlinghetti or Remembering Ferlinghetti… Again

And so Mr Ferlinghetti has left us to continue on without him. He was a great inspiration to me. I wrote this a number of years ago before cancer and the sad effects of chemotherapy on my cognitive abilities. It’s about discovering Ferlinghetti and includes my first and favourite poem of his:

ON FERLINGHETTI

He’s often forgotten as one of the great beat poets of the fifties and remembered more for opening City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco which is an amazing place. I’ve been several times now and I still regret not visiting it more.

When I was in my twenties Beat Poets made me think of Kerouac and Ginsberg. I knew of Ferlinghetti and City Lights Bookstore but I hadn’t read him.

One day I stumbled across this poem in an anthology of poetry in the library in downtown Oklahoma City. I used to spend my lunch hour there when I worked for the water department in City Hall.

He published it in 1958. I was probably 5.

I discovered it in the early 70s in the midst of the Vietnam War and anti-war protests, Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire in protest, and the civil rights movement and women fighting to be recognised and heard and LSD and music, so much music. The first concert I attended was to see Jimi Hendrix and then a little later, Led Zeppelin, in 1970. I had already lost my heart to a musician who would end up being the father of my child. It was a world in upheaval and tremendous creativity and alternative thinkers and hope and belief in our ability to create a better world and days of dark despair and colour everywhere. But most days you woke up filled with hope and determination and ended them with sadness and confusion or escaped for days in music and hallucinogens that made the world a prettier place.

And in the midst of all that I discovered this. I couldn’t stop reading it. I just sat in my library and read it over and over until I pulled out my journal and copied the entire poem in its pages. I think it was a defining moment for me. I don’t think I had truly grasped just how powerful words could be until then. I had an epiphany in my tiny local library.

So this one will always be my favourite Ferlinghetti poem:

I Am Waiting

BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

Original link can be found [HERE][https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/42869] from The Poetry Foundation Website.

Time

Time
beckons
chimes
clangs
against
my memories
against
my heart

while
the sea
throws itself
against the rocks

I practice
breathing
hold myself
back
from the need
of the sea
as it reaches
oblivion
amongst
bleached
rocks
of promises
that
are never met

Still
from seas
far away from you
I hold you
in my heart
and dream of you
of us
of California sunsets

Do you
dream of me?

04 August 2020

image
From the Mendocino Botanical Garden

Listening for Silence

‪We are trying to do‬
‪silence‬
‪today‬
‪but I can hear‬
‪traffic‬
‪racing on wet roads‬
‪in the distance‬
‪and the hum‬
‪of the air cleaner‬
‪and my phone‬
‪with its constant reminders‬
‪and my breath‬
‪which is my life‬
‪and if I hold it‬
‪for a minute‬
‪or two‬
‪I can hear ‬
‪my heart‬
‪and him
I can hear him
I can pretend
I hear
his heart too
just before
the silence
slips
under the door.

27 June 2020

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Winter Wind

The wind is dancing
loud, rhythmic
pressing
against my windows
night twirling
out of control
until the sun breaks
and my world
is filled with
debris
brittle leaves
forgotten bits
of refuse
promises
broken and damaged
unrecognisable

Tomorrow
never comes
but if you stop
and listen
to the night
swirl around you
it ceases to matter

22 February 2020

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