The above chronicles my obligatory pilgrimage to City Lights Bookstore during my San Francisco sojourn in October 2019. Its co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti passed away yesterday at the age of 101! Only a couple of months ago I was marveling aloud about the fact that he was still alive during my Coney Island Christmas talk (the fact that he penned A Coney Island of the Mind being the obvious connection). Beware gushing about the longevity of the very old. It’s a sure fire jinx.
Ferlinghetti was not only an important Beat Poet, but a publisher, promoter, and trafficker in the works of the other Beats. He had actually been arrested for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, which of course accomplished nothing but making celebrities and stars out of both of them. Ferlinghetti outlived Ginsberg by 23 years, William S. Burroughs by about the same, Gregory Corso by 19, Kenneth Rexroth by 39, Jack Kerouac by 52. Neil Cassady by 53. Gary Snyder, 90, still lives.
A Coney Island of the Mind, 20
The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum
Outside the leaves were falling as they died
A wind had blown away the sun
A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room
Outside the leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!