Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The introduction to Lawrence Ferlinghetti's book, A Coney Island of the Mind, reads like this:

The title of this book...expresses the way I felt about these poems when I wrote them--as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul.

I went down to Coney today. Because I had to see if the rumors were true. They were:

The Shore Hotel for Lease
More stuff for Lease

The Wonder Wheel with no cars on it

Just some lady walking around in the freezing cold in her pajamas.

Commerce. Greed. Property. Equity. These are not the makings of a circus, not for the soul or the mind or the heart. If there is any kind of festival left on Surf Avenue and 8th Street, it is of the memory.

A man saw me taking pictures. "Getting your last ones in, huh?" he asked me. "It's so sad, ain't it?" He told me he'd been living in the neighborhood for thirty-three years. "It used to make me so happy," he said, "come summertime, when you'd see all the crowds coming off the subway. I came home from work, it was nice to see people have a good time."

People who thought Coney Island was depressing--because of its seediness, the poverty, the projects--they missed it.

And yet gobble up at last
to shrive our circus souls
the also imaginary
wafers of grace

1 comment:

-R said...

I like the poetics at the end. Is that yours? It really took me there...