coney island 1
Belated Thanks to Lawrence Ferlinghetti
by David Bachner

During winter break my freshman year of college
I bought A Coney Island of the Mind.

Reading it, over and over, night after night,
I was carried into a whole new way

of seeing and feeling, a new way
of thinking about poetry.

And still she dances
dances still
and still she comes
at me
with breathing breasts
and secret lips
and (ah)
bright eyes…

In 1969, suffering a doomed graduate school stint
at Berkeley, I would escape across the Bay

to browse in Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore.
I could never summon up the nerve to approach

the store’s famous owner and thank him
for his book’s impact on me.

Then I thought of sending him a letter.
In the end, I did neither.

The volume I bought in 1962 remains, though,
shelved always close to my desk

to read whenever my muse needs a nudge.
Will I ever experience a late-life repeat

of that transformative teenage moment,
that first Ferlinghetti rush?

I’m still waiting,

…awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

PHOTO: Coney Island at sunset by drpavloff, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The soaring energy of Ferlinghetti’s work—his lines and rhythms and lyrical riffs, his topics so persistently relevant—has stimulated me for nearly 60 years.  I hope my gratitude, long deferred but ever deep, comes through in this homage.

PHOTO: The author holding his copy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s collection, A Coney Island of the Mind. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bachner’s poetry has been published in the chapbook Capital Ironies, the anthology Seeing Things, and Poetry and Places. More work is forthcoming in Sequestrum, and his novel Kirinski’s Life & Times is scheduled for publication by Woodland Arts Editions in 2021. David lives in Washington, DC.