L.F. / 1958
by Gary Carter

ferlinghetti in fifty eight / rattling round a coney island of the mind /
revealed himself waiting for the deepest south to just stop reconstructing itself
in its own image

yet here we are / way down the line / gray ghosts rising again from the mist /
bugles blaring / seeding gut-deep dread of purest white muddied by turgid waters / drowning as old man river keeps on rolling / delusions breeding illusions / conflict rumbling from sea to shining sea / as even god refuses a misshapen myth of america
that defies morality amid fantasy of immortality

like ferlinghetti / i am still waiting / we are still waiting / hoping & praying

PAINTING: Southern Exposure by Helen Frankenthaler (2005).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Upon the news of the poet’s demise, I searched out my old copy of A Coney Island of the Mind, purchased new probably around 1971. It was the New Directions paperback, priced at just one dollar (hard to fathom in this time), with cover notes pronouncing that it was “now in its twentieth printing with a total of 600,000 copies in print,” still a wondrous number for a book of poetry. But more important was that I was drawn once more into the words on the yellowed pages, and found myself startled at their relevance and resonance, words spoken as if from a far shore but rolling in waves onto ours. In particular, the line from “I Am Waiting” in “Oral Messages” that triggered this poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Based in North Carolina, Gary Carter’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in such eclectic outlets as Nashville Review, Deep South Magazine, Steel Toe Review, Dead Mule, The Voices Project, Real South, Delta Poetry Review, and Read Short Fiction. Forthcoming is a collection of short fiction entitled Kicking Dante’s Ass. His novel, Eliot’s Tale, is a reverse-coming-of-age road trip and love story dealing with things done and left undone. He also writes for print and online pubs, and sells a little real estate on the side.