‘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
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 (c)