“I’m tired of waiting for Godot.” ~Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in Junkman’s Obligato ©1958
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journals read, not surprisingly, very much like his poetry.
This excerpt from Writing Across the Landscape (© 2015) records his thoughts attending a poetry conference at the Universidad de Concepción in Chili, in the early part of 1960:
The impression I have is that a great fat omnivorous crab named United States of America is sitting on top of the Pan-American hemisphere, sucking the marrow from its soft underside. The Coca-Colonization of the world…
I came across a trove of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s books at the used book store.
I have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy Beat Poetry. (Ferlinghetti denies he is a Beat, but at the very least there’s a kinship.) Anyway, I guess that’s where I am at the moment.
Empty our pockets
Missing all our appointments
And turning up unshaven
Old cigarette papers
stuck to our pants
leaves in our hair.
Let us not
worry about the payments
Let them come
and take it away
whatever it was
we were paying for.
And us with it.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti intended for Junkman’s Obbligato to be an eternal work-in-progress; improvised words against an improvised jazz background.
But I do think the words stand on their own. There are several transcripts on the internet, one of which is HERE.
“Every time I meet William Burroughs, I feel I’m in the presence of a feisty corpse. As a living person he seems rather bored. I asked him if he would go to the moon. ‘Of course,’ he replied. ‘I’d go anywhere. I’d leave the solar system if they came to get me in a flying saucer.’ ‘Even if there is no coming back?’ I asked. He looked at me. ‘Why come back?'” ~Sylvere Lotringer, from Forget Foucault by Jean Baudrillard
I’ve never been asked if I’d go to the moon. I’d like to converse with someone who introduced new topics like that.
My answer would be the same as his.
In this excerpt from a letter to Scott, Zelda Fitzgerald describes her mental illness in words that sound very much like Beat Poetry:
In Paris, before I realized that I was sick, there was a new significance to everything: stations and streets and facades of buildings– colors were infinite, part of the air, and not restricted by the lines that encompassed them and lines were free of the masses they held. There was music that beat behind my forehead and other music that fell into my stomach from a high parabola and there was some of Schumann that was still and tender and the sadness of Chopin Mazurkas– Some of them sound as if he thought he couldn’t compose them– and there was the madness of turning, turning, turning through the decisiveness of Litz. Then the world became embryonic in Africa– and there was no need for communication. The Arabs fermenting in the vastness; the curious quality of their eyes and the smell of ants; a detachment as if I was on the other side of a black gauze…
From Zelda by Nancy Milford, ©1970, pages 166-167.
Tom the Dancing Bug is on the web HERE.