Lawrence Ferlinghetti: poems on poetry-making and paintings

(header image of one of the paintings currently in progress)

Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)
Constantly risking absurdity
                                             and death
            whenever he performs
                                        above the heads
                                                            of his audience
   the poet like an acrobat
                                 climbs on rime
                                          to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                     above a sea of faces
             paces his way
                               to the other side of day
    performing entrechats
                               and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
                               and all without mistaking
                     any thing
                               for what it may not be
       For he’s the super realist
                                     who must perforce perceive
                   taut truth
                                 before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                     with gravity
                                                to start her death-defying leap
      And he
             a little charleychaplin man
                                           who may or may not catch
               her fair eternal form
                                     spreadeagled in the empty air
                  of existence
And two more Ferlinghetti poems inspired on paintings:
In Goya’s Greatest Scenes We Seem to See . . .
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
                                                             ‘suffering humanity’
          They writhe upon the page
                                        in a veritable rage
                                                                of adversity
          Heaped up
                     groaning with babies and bayonets
                                                       under cement skies
            in an abstract landscape of blasted trees
                  bent statues bats wings and beaks
                               slippery gibbets
                  cadavers and carnivorous cocks
            and all the final hollering monsters
                  of the
                           ‘imagination of disaster’
            they are so bloody real
                                        it is as if they really still existed
    And they do
                  Only the landscape is changed
They still are ranged along the roads
          plagued by legionnaires
                     false windmills and demented roosters
They are the same people
                                     only further from home
      on freeways fifty lanes wide
                              on a concrete continent
                                        spaced with bland billboards
                        illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness
                        The scene shows fewer tumbrils
                                                but more strung-out citizens
                                                                     in painted cars
                               and they have strange license plates
                           and engines
                                           that devour America
Don’t Let That Horse . . .
Don’t let that horse
                              eat that violin
    cried Chagall’s mother
                                     But he
                      kept right on
                                     painting
And became famous
And kept on painting
                              The Horse With Violin In Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
                                        and rode away
          waving the violin
And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across
And there were no strings
                                     attached
note:
https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/poetry-from-art-online-anthology-2012

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