poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, © 1958 – New Directions, 1958, trade paper
April is National Poetry Month, so naturally I decided I should read some poetry. For some reason I’d had a line or two from a Ferlinghetti poem in my mind for a few days, so I went looking, on my poetry shelves, for the book it was in, this book. No luck. I know I had it… wait a minute, that was the book that got loaned and never returned. Darn.
I could find, and did, the particular poem I wanted to read on the internet, but I wanted the book not a poem on the screen (I suppose if you’re under a Certain Age you wouldn’t understand that). The book is out of print – poetry volumes, except the biggest names, don’t stay in print long. No problem though, as used copies are easy to find on the web. The copy arrived, I read it, savoring the poems and the memories of reading them over the years, several of these poems are like old friends.
So it’s April, read some poetry. This might be a pretty good place to start, depending on your tastes in poetry. Works for me. Here’s the poem I went looking for in the first place, one of Ferlinghetti’s best known, and an especial favorite of mine.
“Dog,” by Lawrence FerlinghettiThe dog trots freely in the street and sees reality and the things he sees are bigger than himself and the things he sees are his reality Drunks in doorways Moons on trees The dog trots freely thru the street and the things he sees are smaller than himself Fish on newsprint Ants in holes Chickens in Chinatown windows their heads a block away The dog trots freely in the street and the things he smells smell something like himself The dog trots freely in the street past puddles and babies cats and cigars poolrooms and policemen He doesn’t hate cops He merely has no use for them and he goes past them and past the dead cows hung up whole in front of the San Francisco Meat Market He would rather eat a tender cow than a tough policeman though either might do And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory and past Coit’s Tower and past Congressman Doyle of the Unamerican Committee He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle although what he hears is very discouraging very depressing very absurd to a sad young dog like himself to a serious dog like himself But he has his own free world to live in His own fleas to eat He will not be muzzled Congressman Doyle is just another fire hydrant to him The dog trots freely in the street and has his own dog’s life to live and to think about and to reflect upon touching and tasting and testing everything investigating everything without benefit of perjury a real realist with a real tale to tell and a real tail to tell it with a real live barking democratic dog engaged in real free enterprise with something to say about ontology something to say about reality and how to see it and how to hear it with his head cocked sideways at street corners as if he is just about to have his picture taken for Victor Records listening for His Master’s Voice and looking like a living question mark into the great gramophone of puzzling existence with its wondrous hollow horn which always seems just about to spout forth some Victorious answer to everything