‘Baseball Canto’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Legendary San Francisco poet and founder of City Lights Bookstore and publishing company Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a baseball fan, too. The card-carrying Beat writer and publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and several books by Jack Kerouac, including “Book of Dreams” and “Pomes All Sizes,” has a most fitting poem for this World Series week. Click here to hear Ferlinghetti reading the poem.—PM


Baseball Canto

Watching baseball
sitting in the sun
eating popcorn
Reading Ezra Pound
and wishing Juan Marichal
would hit a hole right through
the Anglo-Saxon tradition
in the First Canto
and demolish the barbarian invaders
When the San Francisco Giants take the field
and everybody stands up for the National Anthem
with some Irish tenor's voice
piped over the loudspeakers
with all the players struck dead in their places
and the white umpires like Irish cops
in their black suits and little black caps
pressed over their hearts
standing straight and still
like at some funeral of a blarney bartender
and all facing East
as if expecting some Great White Hope
or the Founding Fathers
to appear on the horizon
like 1066 or 1776 or all that
But Willie Mays appears instead
in the bottom of the first
and a roar goes up
	as he clouts the first one into the sun
		and takes off
			like a footrunner from Thebes
	The ball is lost in the sun
		and maidens wail after him
			but he keeps running
				through the Anglo-Saxon epic
And Tito Fuentes comes up
	Looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes

		    And the rightfield bleachers go mad
			With Chicanos & blacks & Brooklyn beerdrinkers
				"Tito! Sock it to him, Sweet Tito!"
		     And Sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
			         and smacks one that don't come back at all
			and flees around the bases
		         like he's escaping from the United Fruit Company
			as the Gringo dollar beats out the Pound
			       and Sweet Tito beats it out
			       like he's beating out usury
			       not to mention fascism and anti-semitism
		And Juan Marchial comes up
		    and the Chicano bleachers go loco again
			as Juan belts the first fast ball
			       out of sight
				  and rounds first and keeps going
                         		and rounds second and rounds third
						and keeps going
					          and hits pay-dirt
			     to the roars of the grungy populace
		As some nut presses the backstage panic button
for the tape-recorded National Anthem again
to save the situation
but it don't stop nobody this time
in their revolution round the loaded white bases
in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics
in the Territorio Libre of Baseball
 Lawrence Ferlinghetti Live at the Poetry Center by Lawrence Ferlinghetti cover
---Lawrence Ferlinghetti (c)