A Ferlinghetti of the Mind – (San Francisco)

Beat culture abounds in San Francisco; it may even be responsible for the crazy creative vibe that seems to emanate up from the sidewalks and flow from the faucets.

In wandering, we happened upon City Lights bookstore, the love child of beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  In addition to the impressively esoteric collection of books for perusing and purchase, there was paraphenalia hung all over the walls, including a photo collection of the artists of the day with short captions.  Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Laurence Ferlingetti, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, et al.

Chris bought Ferlinghetti’s magnum opus, A Coney Island of the Mind.  Below, I included the first poem of this collection; it touched me so, and amazed me that it still rings true more than 50 years after it was published.

Please enjoy!

 

In Goya's greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
'suffering humanity'

They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of adversity

Heaped up
groaning with babies and bayonets
under cement skies
in an abstract landscape of blasted trees
bent statues bats wings and beaks
slippery gibbets
cadavers and carnivorous cocks
and all the final hollering monsters
of the
'imagination of disaster'
they are so bloody real
it is as if they really still existed

And they do
Only the landscape has changed

They still are ranged along the roads
plagued by legionaires
false windmills and demented roosters

We are the same people
only further from home
on freeways fifty lanes wide
on a concrete continent
spaced with bland billboards
illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness

The scene shows fewer tumbrils
but more strung-out citizens
in painted cars
and they have strange license plates
and engines
that devour America
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