Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Poem of the Day

Ever since I posted the note on Friday about the Nike ad, soccer star Wayne Rooney and the very odd fact that representing the Crucifixion became a cottage industry over the past millenium, I've had this poem in mind. The poet really seems to capture the oddness of it all—

Sometimes During Eternity

Sometimes during eternity
some guys show up
and one of them
who shows up real late
is a kind of carpenter
from square-type place
like Galilee
and he starts wailing
and claiming he is hip
to who made heaven
and earth
and that the cat
who really laid it on us
is his Dad
And moreover
he adds
It's all writ down
on some scroll-type parchments
which some henchmen
leave lying around the Dead Sea somewheres
a long time ago
and which you won't even find
for a coupla thousand years or so
or at least for
nineteen hundred and fortyseven
of them
to be exact
and even then
nobody really believes them
or me
for that matter
You're hot
they tell him
And they cool him
They stretch him on the Tree to cool
And everybody after that
is always making models
of his Tree
with Him hung up
and always crooning His name
and calling Him to come down
and sit in
on their combo
as if he is the king cat
who's got to blow
or they can't quite make it
Only he don't come down
from His Tree
Him just hang there
on His Tree
looking real Petered out
and real cool
and also
according to a roundup
of late world news
from the usual unreliable sources
real dead

—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti is the official "poet laureate" of San Francisco. He owned and still owns the City Lights Bookstore, which has a publishing arm famous for bringing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" to the world. The bookstore just celebrated its 50th anniversary, and Ferlinghetti at 84 is sporting an earring and disavowing his Beat sensibilities.

This is what came out of his interview with Evelyn Nieves—

Almost everyone, he says with the hint of a sigh, wants to know what it was like to be a Beat. Hip and bohemian, the Beats were notable for consciously rejecting academic verse and forging new concepts in prose and poetry.

"But I was never part of the Beat group," he says, sipping a Heineken.... "I've been telling people for decades that my poetry comes from a different sensibility," he says. A PhD (from the Sorbonne, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the city as symbol in modern poetry), he says he was heavily influenced by Marcel Proust. "Yet inevitably," he adds, "a story will run with a headline that says, 'The Beat goes on.'"

Well, just say it's my nose, but the whiff I get from that poem is not of madeleines.

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