A Tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Poetry written this day 2/23/2021

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, AP photos

I've never been to Coney Island,
I've never been to L.A.,
but I know these places all the same,
their ephemeral visages and skylines,
their storybook stories of love, of injustice,
of adventure like a ferris wheel
careening down a city street to the sea,
all its lights flickering and shooting sparks.

I've seen the wind act like a whiffle bat
smacking its ball, the sun,
back and forth across the sky,
with the moon dodging this play
by erasing itself slowly as a quarter
taking thirty days to disappear
when flipped from a magician's hand.

Sure, I've wanted to be a firefly,
a poet, a saboteur of ugliness,
but I've long been a refugee,
an escape artist constantly
breaking the surface of the water
after escaping the safe
he had promised the crowd
he could drown in.

But see, it's all performance
and subterfuge, a game of words
and music and pretend,
where we ask ourselves silent
as huddled charliechaplin men,
I don't know, man, is poetry
even relevant? Again?

Look at all those stars,
if you can still see them through the smog.
And if you can't, I promise
they're still back there, beating
their seemingly forever beats,
luring madness from the pores of the night.
And that is the kind of beauty
that leans out and over
the guard rails of the soul,
whispering some faint promise of purpose.

No one is born a poet.
The words build up
through rainstorms drumming
their beatitudes within
the great dark vault of the heart,
and only the lucky or the damned
who spend their lives chipping
away at the wall of that dam,
ever break through it,
releasing that flood of pent up
agonies, observances, soliloquies
sealed up in metrical screams
or unbridled dreams gone mad,
and isn't it beautiful
that all this chaotic energy
gets born through breath?

You tell me, is that madness,
or is poetry just the river
of the world,
and we are the light
kissed by its waters,
knowing that neither
was never meant
to be contained.

Provocative truth teller, author of 14 poetry collections. Cat dad. Dog dad. Currently working from Portland, Oregon. Learn more at: Jaysizemore.com.

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