Saturday, August 8, 2015

70 Years After the Bomb

I first read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poetry in college, after I went to hear him read it in an auditorium somewhere on the Chapel Hill campus, his own alma mater. I have also made several pilgramages to his City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, sat upstairs in the poetry room and run my hand over the many books of poets that were published there. I had forgotten about Ferlinghetti's service in World War II, though, and thought it a worthy thing to post his own thoughts as we all reflect on the great destruction wreaked by our country seventy years ago.

No matter what you think dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese civilian population did or didn't do for mankind, the lives lost and what was ushered in are worthy of reflection.

Here's one of his poems that I always loved from his collection A Coney Island of the Mind.

Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)

Constantly risking absurdity
                                             and death
            whenever he performs
                                        above the heads
                                                            of his audience
   the poet like an acrobat
                                 climbs on rime
                                          to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                     above a sea of faces
             paces his way
                               to the other side of day
    performing entrechats
                               and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
                               and all without mistaking
                     any thing
                               for what it may not be

       For he's the super realist
                                     who must perforce perceive
                   taut truth
                                 before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                     with gravity
                                                to start her death-defying leap

      And he
             a little charleychaplin man
                                           who may or may not catch
               her fair eternal form
                                     spreadeagled in the empty air
                  of existence


  1. A monstrous, racist act. How did I not think this before?

  2. Wow! Thank you for sharing, I've always loved the Beats. I didn't know he was there. I would give anything to visit City Lights one day.



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