The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics

A Poem by Joan Gelfand

“All that we see, or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” Edgar Allan Poe

I: The dream within the dream within the dream
What is it, Ferlinghetti,
Taking star turns in my dreams?
Strolling in front of cars
Haunting alleyways, stairways,
Bars? Beating moth like flitting through
San Francisco’s sex fraught avenues? In North Beach
Where XXX marks art and
Nasty commerce collide, intersect Columbus,
Telegraph Hill, Jack Kerouac Way.
You are fog whispering in from the sea
On another sunny day.

“There’s a breathless hush on the freeway tonight,
Beyond the ledges of concrete/Restaurants fall into dreams
With candlelight couples/Lost Alexandria still burns.” *

Ferlinghetti’s words sink, weighted
On the business end of an invisible fishing line,
Dredging last nights’ dream to surface, gasping for air
Shivering like some catfish
Eyes bulging, wet lake water dripping off its scales.
The knife of memory slices open
That dream, finds me on haunted streets,
Instructing small boy:
“You gotta go to the Ferlinghetti school. It’s totally rad
and completely cool.”

II:  Ferlinghetti Makes an Appearance
Phantom audience shouts:  “Higher! Higher!”
Egg the poets on – after all, they’re not on the wire.
Higher? We spin the memory wheel until there’s my father
Strolling through his own Coney Island
And there he is again winning a goldfish
The clerk hands it over fish circling in plastic bag
Big Daddy pretends
It’s all for the kids.
He needed to win like that fish needed water.

III: The Poet Reconsiders
Is the skill of life just keeping on
All the gears oiled, the doors open?
Even if the past keeps drowning and the knifed open
Dream fish still swims around?

In dream theater Ferlinghetti arrives.
Was it the Regal, the Royal or the Metreon?
I rise to make room for he who started everything
Got the wheel of poetry turning, broke
Open language, letters. Vaporized
While he drifts
Haunting my dreams.

*From “Wild Dreams of A New Beginning” by L. Ferlinghetti

Joan’s new book, “You Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C’s of Successful Authors: Craft, Commitment, Community and Confidence,” published by Mango Press July, 2018 is on Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases. The author of three poetry collections and an award winning book of short fiction, Joan is the recipient of numerous writing awards, commendations, nominations and honors.Joan can be found writing and coaching writers at EcoSystms co-working space in SF. http://joangelfand.com 

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