I ALWAYS WANTED TO MEET LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI
‘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
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
groaning with babies and bayonets
under cement skies
in an abstract landscape of blasted trees
bent statues bats wings and beaks
cadavers and carnivorous cocks
and all the final hollering monsters
‘imagination of disaster’
they are so bloody real
it is as if they really still existed
And they do
Only the landscape is changed…’
I’m sitting in a square near my home where I sometimes go to sketch.
This evening got dark early due to a day that was grey and rainy.
My seat is on a bench under a lamppost where I start to draw anything automatically.
Traffic rushes up Avenue of the Americas.
An overdramatic fountain in the square’s center—redundantly spewing water into the air of an already wet city.
Church bells attempt to make the square feel like an authentic piazza.
Seated on an opposite bench is an older, sea-fairing-like man with a hat and white beard, proudly taking in the place.
I always wanted to meet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I once read how Tom Waits took his copy of ‘A Coney Island of the Mind’ to the City Lights Café in San Francisco where Ferlinghetti hangs out, and left it for him to sign.
I’d like to do the same.
We share things in common, the poet and I.
Apart from our last names rhyming with spaghetti; he was born in Yonkers—I grew up there.
He lives on the west coast—I’m left-handed.
He was born in March, 1919, and wrote a great piece a long time ago called, “The Old Italians Dying.”
Whenever I used to sit down at the table to eat as a kid, my Nonna, to no avail, would always try and put the fork in my right hand.
Opening excerpt from A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, Poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A New Directions Book. ‘The title, A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, is taken from Henry Miller’s INTO THE NIGHT LIFE. It is used out of context but expresses the way I felt about the poems when I wrote them – as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul.’ – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
General’s Sketching Pencil U.S.A. 529-2B, quaderno Quodlibet edizioni ©2014 Thomas Libetti
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