New Poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

"THE FIRST AND THE LAST OF EVERYTHING"

The first fine dawn of life on earth
The first cry of man in the first light
The first firefly flickering at night
The first song of love and forty cries of despair
The first voyage of Vikings westward
The first sighting of the New World
                   from the crow's nest of a Spanish galleon
The first Pale Face meeting the first native American
The first Dutch trader in Mannahatta
The first settler on the first frontier
The first Home Sweet Home so dear
The first wagon train westward
The first sighting of the Pacific by Lewis & Clark
The first cry of "Mark, twain!" on the Mississippi
The first desegregation by Huck & Jim on a raft at night
The first buffalo-head nickel and the last buffalo
The first barbed-wire fence and the last of the open range
The last cowboy on the last frontier
The first skyscraper in America
The first home run hit at Yankee Stadium
The first ballpark hotdog with mustard
The last War To End All Wars
The last Wobbly and the last Catholic Anarchist
The last living member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
The last bohemian in a beret
The last homespun politician and the first stolen election
The first plane to hit the first Twin Tower
The birth of a vast national paranoia
The first President to become an international criminal
          for crimes against humanity
                   making America a terrorist state
The dark dawn of American corporate fascism
The next-to-last free speech radio
The next-to-last independent newspaper raising hell
The next-to-last independent bookstore with a mind of its own
The next-to-last lefty looking for Obama Nirvana
The first fine day of the Wall Street Occupation
to set forth upon this continent a new nation!

 

 

 

"SONG OF THE THIRD WORLD BIRDS"

A cock cried out in my sleep
         somewhere in Middle America
                      to awake the Middle Mind
                                                          of America
And the cock cried out
               to awake me to see
                              a sea of birds
                                       flying over me
                                                   across America

And there were birds of every color
                 black birds & brown birds  
                      & yellow birds & red birds 
                              from the lands of every 
                                      liberation movement          

And all these birds circled the earth
        and flew over every great nation
                     and over fortress America
                                     with its great eagle
                                         and its thunderbolts

And all the birds cried out with one voice
      the voice of those who have no voice
      the voice of the invisibles of the world
  the voice of the dispossessed of the world
             the fellaheen peoples of earth
   
And which side are you on
                                                sang the birds
       Oh which side are you on
                         in the Third World War
                 the war against the Third World?
           

 


"PITY THE NATION"
(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
   And whose shepherds mislead them
 Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
            Whose sages are silenced
  And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
 Pity the nation that raises not its voice
          Except  to praise conquerers
       And acclaim the bully as hero
          And aims to rule the world
              By force and by torture
          Pity the nation that knows
        No other language but its own
      And no other culture but its own
 Pity the nation whose breath is money
 And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
      Pity the nation oh pity the people
        who allow their rights to  erode
   and their freedoms to be washed away
               My country, tears of thee
                   Sweet land of liberty!


                         



"ARE THERE NOT STILL FIREFLIES"

Are there not still fireflies
Are there not still four-leaf clovers
Is not our land still beautiful
Our fields not full of armed enemies
Our cities never bombed to oblivion
Never occupied by iron armies
speaking iron tongues
Are not our warriors still valiant
ready to defend us
Are not our senators still wearing fine togas
Are we not still a great people
Is this not still a free country
Are not our fields still ours
our gardens still full of flowers
our ships with full cargoes

Why then do some still fear
the barbarians are coming
coming coming
in their huddled masses
(What is that sound that fills the ear
drumming drumming?)

Is not Rome still Rome
Is not Los Angeles still Los Angeles
Are these really the last days of the Roman Empire

Is not beauty still beauty
And truth still truth
Are there not still poets
Are there not still lovers
Are there not still mothers
sisters and brothers
Is there not still a full moon
once a month

Are there not still fireflies
Are there not still stars at night
Can we not still see them
in bowl of night
signalling to us
our so-called manifest destinies?

 

 

"CODA"

Cut down cut down cut down
Cut down the grassroots
Cut down those too wild weeds
in our great agri-fields and golf courses
Cut down cut down those wild sprouts
Cut down cut down those rank weeds
Pull down your vanity, man, pull down
the too wild buds the too wild shoots
Cut down the wild unruly vines & voices
the hardy volunteers and pioneers
Cut down cut down the alien corn
Cut down the crazy introverts
Tongue-tied lovers of the subjective
Cut down cut down the wild ones the wild spirits
The desert rats and monkey wrenchers
Easy riders and midnight cowboys in narco nirvanas
Cut down the wild alienated loners
Cut down cut down all those freaks and free thinkers
Wild-eyed poets with wandering minds
Soapbox agitators and curbstone philosophers
Far out weirdos and rappers
Stoned-out visionaries and peace-niks
Exiles in their own land!
O melting pot America!

 

 


"HISTORY OF THE AIRPLANE"

And the Wright brothers said they thought they had invented
something that could make peace on earth
(if the wrong brothers didn't get hold of it)
when their wonderful flying machine took off at Kitty Hawk
into the kingdom of birds but the parliament of birds was freaked out
by this man-made bird and fled to heaven

And then the famous Spirit of Saint Louis took off eastward and
flew across the Big Pond with Lindy at the controls in his leather
helmet and goggles hoping to sight the doves of peace but he did not
Even though he circled Versailles

And then the famous Yankee Clipper took off in the opposite
direction and flew across the terrific Pacific but the pacific doves
were frighted by this strange amphibious bird and hid in the orient sky

And then the famous Flying Fortress took off bristling with guns
and testosterone to make the world safe for peace and capitalism
but the birds of peace were nowhere to be found before or after Hiroshima

And so then clever men built bigger and faster flying machines and
these great man-made birds with jet plumage flew higher than any
real birds and seemed about to fly into the sun and melt their wings
and like Icarus crash to earth

And the Wright brothers were long forgotten in the high-flying
bombers that now began to visit their blessings on various Third
Worlds all the while claiming they were searching for doves of
peace

And they kept flying and flying until they flew right into the 21st
century and then one fine day a Third World struck back and
stormed the great planes and flew them straight into the beating
heart of Skyscraper America where there were no aviaries and no
parliaments of doves and in a blinding flash America became a part
of the scorched earth of the world

And a wind of ashes blows across the land
And for one long moment in eternity
There is chaos and despair

And buried loves and voices
Cries and whispers
Fill the air
Everywhere