lawrence ferlinghetti | populist manifesto no. 1

2 01 2013


POETRY DISPATCH #387 | January 1, 2013

New Year’s Day


Part I—(of a possible Part II)…

Editor’s Note: Let us now praise…Felinghetti, while he furiously finds the words to hurl amongst us, age 93, never missing a beat. America’s only true American poet of conscience, given our time. Which is forever his time, whether one goes back to his beautiful CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, or peeks into his present take on America singing, crying in his two ‘instant’ classic works: AMERICUS, Book I (2004) and TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS, Americus, Book II (2012), where he takes on Williams, takes on Olson, Ginsberg, Kerouac…takes on the wonder of Whitman and becomes them all in their love and angst over America the beautiful bad.

Before that though, in keeping with the new year, in keeping with the always new-old Ferlinghetti…let us celebrate (poets and readers) the new day with a reminder of a poet’s work. Let us listen, sing, think, write our hearts out to this beat in the days ahead.
We are all in need of manifestoes. — Norbert Blei



Poets, come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed-up too long
in your closed worlds.
Come down, come down
from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills,
your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills,
your Mount Analogues and Montparnasses,
down from your foot hills and mountains,
out of your tepees and domes.
The trees are still falling
and we’ll to the woods no more.
No time now for sitting in them
As man burns down his own house
to roast his pig.
No more chanting Hare Krishna
while Rome burns.
San Francisco’s burning,
Mayakovsky’s Moscow’s burning
the fossil-fuels of life.
Night & the Horse approaches
eating light, heat & power,
and the clouds have trousers.
No time now for the artist to hide
above, beyond, behind the scenes,
indifferent, paring his fingernails,
refining himself out of existence.
No time now for our little literary games,
no time now for our paranoias & hypochondrias,
no time now for fear & loathing,
time now only for light & love.
We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.
Poetry isn’t a secret society,
It isn’t a temple either.
Secret words & chants won’t do any longer.
The hour of oming is over, the time for keening come,
time for keening & rejoicing
over the coming end of industrial civilization
which is bad for earth & Man.
Time now to face outward
in the full lotus position
with eyes wide open,
Time now to open your mouths
with a new open speech,
time now to communicate with all sentient beings,
All you Poets of the Cities’
hung in museums, including myself,
All you poet’s poets writing poetry about poetry,
All you dead language poets and deconstructionists,
All you poetry workshop poets
in the boondock heart of America,
All you house-broken Ezra Pounds,
All you far-out freaked-out cut-up poets,
All you pre-stressed Concrete poets,
All you cunnilingual poets,
All you pay-toilet poets groaning with graffitti,
All you A-train swingers who never swing on birches,
All you masters of the sawmill haiku
in the Siberias of America,
All you eyeless unrealists,
All you self-occulting supersurrealists,
All you bedroom visionaries and closet agitpropagators,
All you Groucho Marxist poets
and leisure-class Comrades
who lie around all day
and talk about the workingclass proletariat,
All you Catholic anarchists of poetry,
All you Black Mountaineers of poetry,
All you Boston Brahmins and Bolinas bucolics,
All you den mothers of poetry,
All you zen brothers of poetry,
All you suicide lovers of poetry,
All you hairy professors of poesie,
All you poetry reviewers drinking the blood of the poet,
All you Poetry Police—
Where are Whitman’s wild children,
where the great voices speaking out
with a sense of sweetness and sublimity,
where the great new vision,
the great world-view,
the high prophetic song of the immense earth
and all that sings in it
And our relation to it—
Poets, descend
to the street of the world once more
And open your minds & eyes
with the old visual delight,
Clear your throat and speak up,
Poetry is dead, long live poetry
with terrible eyes and buffalo strength.
Don’t wait for the Revolution
or it’ll happen without you,
Stop mumbling and speak out
with a new wide-open poetry
with a new commonsensual ‘public surface’
with other subjective levels
or other subversive levels,
a tuning fork in the inner ear
to strike below the surface.
Of your own sweet Self still sing
yet utter ‘the word en-masse’—
Poetry the common carrier
for the transportation of the public
to higher places
than other wheels can carry it.
Poetry still falls from the skies
into our streets still open.
They haven’t put up the barricades, yet,
the streets still alive with faces,
lovely men & women still walking there,
still lovely creatures everywhere,
in the eyes of all the secret of all
still buried there,
Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there,
Awake and sing in the open air.


lawrence ferlinghetti | i am waiting

4 07 2012

Photo by Norbert Blei

POETRY DISPATCH #378 | July 4, 2012


I Am Waiting

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

[ from A Coney Island of the Mind. Copyright © 1958 New Directions, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti]

john bennett | the silent treatment

16 09 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No.352 | September 16, 2011

The Silent Treatment
John Bennett

Sitting around
over his
print shop
on upper Green
40 years ago
after Bukowski’s
City Lights
with Ferlinghetti
Rip Torn &
a host of
someone said
you’re the
only one
done it &
I said
no one’s
done it
or we
still be
trying to
do it &
Ferlinghetti said
the Beats
did it.

The Beats?
I said.
But then,
you’re Ferlinghetti
aren’t you.

The room
got very
still &
down into
his beer
cradled on
his great
of gut
& said
Now you’ve
done it

stared at
me with
ice blue
that said
going to
silence you.

Which they
never did.

John Bennett

Battle Scars

John Bennett

30 new poems.

All 125 books signed by the author. Twenty-five of the books come with a signed watercolor by Henry Denander.

Mini-chapbook format, in wraps.

Cover art by Henry Denander.

Please click here… if you are interested in buying this book.

norbert blei | used books / old friends

25 01 2008


NOTES from the UNDERGROUND… No.130 | January 24, 2008

Used Books/Old Friends by Norbert Blei

As much as I love the sight, smell, feel, surprise, seduction of new books; as much as I welcome a brand new hot-off-the-press-book from a publisher with my own name on it; as much as I enjoy publishing new chapbooks for others…the anticipation of tearing open the first box, How will it look? grabbing the first copy, Is it what I envisioned? checking the cover, sifting through the pages, there’s something about old, used books that call you home. Remember me? Have you ever read me? Heard of me? Been meaning to read me for the past twenty years?

Once upon a time many of us, readers for sure, writers in particular, thrived on used bookstores, old books, because that was all we could afford. Used books were treasure hunts–more so than today where everything appears easier, affordable, more accessible. If you were reading seriously, if you were on that path, some books you searched for, yearned for, were hard to come by. Certain titles almost sacred–books we absolutely had to own or our lives as ‘writers-in-progress’ would be sorely diminished. We really couldn’t survive without owning a copy of…Kenneth Patchen’s, JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT, whatever shape it was in.

Battered, beaten, torn covers and pages, pages yellowed with age, missing, coffee-stained, under-lined, marginal notes in pen or pencil, rejected/stamped by libraries from god knows where…50¢, 75¢, $1.00. Diagonally creased/turned corner-tops of a page to mark one’s place in a story that had become ours. And those of us (who were extremely lucky) had favorite used bookstores not because of the pricing or quality of stock, but because the place felt good, smelled good, welcomed us into the silence for minutes or hours, and possessed just the atmosphere we craved—to be alone with books. And, if one were really lucky, had a bookman who was always there, sort of recognized you, and who, if he was as good as the ones I was fortunate to know, (one bookman in particular that I have written about before, “Paul Romaine” in CHI TOWN), could introduce you to authors, literary movements, languages, places in the world a writer needed to know, art and artists, rare books, first editions, political philosophies, small presses, music…a man who so loved books, that when he slowly took one off the shelf, held it in his hands, carefully opened it to something he wanted to show you, you felt he was handling something ancient, rare, holy…a sacred text that held the answer to everything you needed to know.

Occasionally someone will tell me he was in a city, or another part of the country entirely, walked into a bookstore, found an old book of mine marked down to $5. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what the message was, but in time I came to love the fact a book of mine had attained the status of ‘used’ or ‘old’—or even ‘bargain.’ And had traveled to those places! I am more than pleased to know that a used copy of one of my short story collections in on the shelf in Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books in San Francisco. Not to mention other works in well known New York bookstores. I almost hope no one ever buys them, I’m so pleased to find a home, be marked down (sometimes ‘up’), denoted used in those locations.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Photo: Mark Weber

That’s a whole other life and time-frame for something you spent a good part of your own life trying to put down in words…the best words possible. The best story or poem or essay you could write to communicate what you thought was important then—and hopefully will continue to register in the minds and hearts of others, years down the road, regardless of the price of admission. You want and need your words to live. If not on the shelves, in the private libraries of families and friends and people you never met—then that vagabond book life…torn dust jackets, marked pages, books feeling and showing time… books on the road–left on planes, buses, trains, cars and trucks, the waiting rooms of dentists and doctors, books in restaurants and coffeehouses, books in bars. Books For Sale in libraries, and garage sales…just as long as the words are still there, and the meaning waiting to be delivered.

Some of you may have received a used book from me at various times in the past…some of you may still be waiting. No promises. It’s always a spur of the moment thing. I look at a book and something clicks. Yeah, this is for…so-and-so. I often buy used books at library and garage sales. Sometimes the book is one I love and in such perfect condition that I know, just know, somebody out there should have this book. Sometimes I spot a copy and immediately associate something about that book with—a writing student who once took a workshop with me; somebody in my immediate family; an established writer-friend that THIS book would be perfect for (and I know or suspect he or she has not read); a friend who loves the work of a particular author as much as I and to my knowledge has never seen this hard-to-find book; a beginning writer who needs to know this book; a woman I once shared time with and shared a writer’s work with; someone I just met who expressed an interest in the material, ideas found in the book I am presently holding in my hand—yes, this is the right book for him/her.

Books never die. They are always out there, waiting to be rediscovered.


Sometimes I just add another copy of a book (let’s say Camus’, THE STRANGER) to the two or three other copies on my shelf. I stockpile the great ones. Sooner or later THE STRANGER will find its way from my shelf to someone who will take him in. Make him a friend. Give him warmth, care, the loving attention he deserves. Make a home for him, for keeps.