A Letter to Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Who is not there

I was walking down Columbus
looking for America and the Great City Lights;
“You owe me,” said every poet ever made;

I met your henchmen; A pilgrim,
I stood on the doorstep of your ‘playpen,’
Ominous Odin and the Odysseus
I trekked from the netherworld,
through to the underworld to shake your hand;
An army of cretins wait your command,
While I stood facing them, you simply said,
“Don’t let that horse eat that violin!”

So I followed Alexander to China
town, far from the madding English
crowd, and found Chagall locked up
in some glass showcase in German,
Some Hitler had kidnapped him;
“I’m off to find Lawrence of Arabia,” I cried;
I went to Dublin, but Lawrence had died;
I offered him gold myrrh and frankincense,
But the king of Arabia just shook his head, rolled his eyes,
turned and walked away into the dark of immortality
And all the lost poets from thousands of years
all gather up here at the end of the pier
I came to thank you for my gift; I came and I left; I meant to recite
You’ll just have to ‘read it,’ like everyone else, if you’re still alive;

If every old man with every grey beard was a great institution,
Sailor boys would stand to attention and cross shoulders with soldiers
To phantom the champion; Your priests and your scribes and
Those stompin ‘tom’ tribes of Israel,
Camus reviews the evidence over and over
This is The Fall; This poor woman the world passes over,
again and again, like some good Samaritan Jean-Baptiste Clamence
to become a man

Here I go now to that Golden Gate
I saw the ships on the horizon
watching him,
a man on the bridge
watching the body swim
into the bay

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A Letter to Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Who is not there by 

Inspired by:

“Goya! Goya!
Oh Lawrence,
No angels dance on those bridges

From: Michael McClure,For the Death of 100 Whales


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