Tue 12 Nov, 2002 06:36 pm
The Green Street Mortuary Marching Band
marches right down Green Street
and turns into Columbus Avenue
where all the café sitters at
the sidewalk café tables
sit talking and laughing
and looking right through it
as if it happened every day in
little old wooden North Beach San Francisco
but at the same time feeling thrilled
by the stirring sound of the gallant marching band
as if it were celebrating life and
never heard of death
And right behind it comes the open hearse
with the closed casket and the
big framed picture under glass propped up
showing the patriarch who
has just croaked
And now all seven members of
the Green Street Mortuary Marching Band
with the faded gold braid on their
beat-up captains' hats
raise their bent axes and
start blowing all more or less
out comes this Onward Christian Soldiers like
you heard it once upon a time only
much slower with a dead beat
And now you see all the relatives behind the
closed glass windows of the long black cars and
their faces are all shiny like they
been weeping with washcloths and
all super serious
like as if the bottom has just dropped out of
their private markets and
there's the widow all in weeds, and the sister with the
bent frame and the mad brother who never got through school
and Uncle Louie with the wig and there they all are assembled
together and facing each other maybe for the first time in a long
time but their masks and public faces are all in place as they face
outward behind the traveling corpse up ahead and oompah oompah
goes the band very slow with the trombones and the tuba
and the trumpets and the big bass drum and the corpse hears
nothing or everything and it's a glorious autumn day in old
North Beach if only he could have lived to see it Only we
wouldn't have had the band who half an hour later can be seen
straggling back silent along the sidewalks looking like hungover
brokendown Irish bartenders dying for a drink or a last hurrah
.... Lawrence Ferlinghetti
ah, ferlinghetti, the best of them all -- and a healthy person and good businessman, to boot.
there'd've been no brautigans without him (or is it the other way 'round?)...
(or is there such a thing as convergent evolution?)...
I LIKE this poem.
I had read a little of Ferlinghetti and thought I didn't like his stuff.
think I'll go back and look again.
he's really does two kinds of things -- free form bits like this (usually about a page) and long rambling ballads that can go on and on and on. they're pretty different in character.
Sometime in the next few days I'll have to drop by Barnes and Noble where I can sampl his stuff for an hour or so.
I believe Ferlinghetti's most ... I started to say popular, but that carries some excess baggage in his case (portfolio?) so I'll say ... most frequently anthologized piece is Constantly Risking Absurdity
which can be read, along with a coupla others, on the following website.