I ask you

I have always been into the Beats. I used to write “beat” style poetry to copy them. then in 1980 I said fuck it. I am going to write as I would write it, not some guy in San Francisco. This is a poem from 1969 which I revised in 1980.

I ask you
“The best writing is what’s right in front of you. Sometimes I’d walk down the street with poets and they wouldn’t see anything. I’d have to shake their arm and say, ‘Look! Look!” Lawrence Ferlinghetti

so I ask you
What is poetry?
you give some long winded pretentious ass answer
which I promptly forget and move
on to my own answer.
What is a poet I ask you.
You ramble and natter on
saying this that and the other.
When I say a poet is a terrorist
and that a poet sometimes speaks truth
but mostly they write what they think
the world wants to read
and say, this is so evocative
this is so powerful
this is raw.
this is so beautiful.
I turn my back on you and laugh at you.
And I ask you if all the cathedrals burn down
and all the temples churches mosques
cathedrals burn down
will there still be a god and prayers?
You weep and mourn for the burned down
cathedrals mosques temples churches.
better weep for those these
churches cathedrals mosques temples


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. erbiage
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 16:00:41

    I’m keen to know the ’69 version


  2. Sherry Blue Sky
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 16:16:59

    Wow. You Knew early on. That ending – stark and true.


  3. kanzensakura
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 16:20:56

    Sherry, I knew since I began writing poetry at 16. I was an angry young kitten. Now I am an angry old woman who is no longer shocked by anything.


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 16:32:46

    It is so much easier to cry for a burning monument than to heal what’s murdered


  5. Herotomost
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 16:36:26

    I am not sure that any answer is the right one, or if any of them make sense. Its just about the writing, its about the longing and the desperation. It doesn’t make us poets, but it makes us humans. Great social comment….


  6. Ellecee
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 19:14:20

    It can be very scary to look directly at the truth, bit it’s may the only way to change. A strong commentary you’ve created here ❣️


  7. Yvonne Osborne
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 19:28:31

    Poets as terrorists. So be it! Ginsberg’s “Howl” still one of the best. Good one.


  8. Susie Clevenger
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 19:52:34

    Evidently I don’t write what the world wants to read, but I ink on. Poets as terrorists…perhaps we should be/are


  9. SatyaPriya
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 20:35:17

    Thankyou. May we all be terrorists together, burning down edifices so that people can run free.


  10. Jim
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 23:41:55

    Very fitting for the day, still. Even to the cathedrals burning. Keep doing what you are doing, Toni.


  11. kim881
    Apr 17, 2019 @ 03:35:16

    A hard-hitting poem, Toni, and a pertinent question:
    ‘And I ask you if all the cathedrals burn down
    and all the temples churches mosques
    cathedrals burn down
    will there still be a god and prayers?’


  12. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Apr 17, 2019 @ 04:42:45

    Wow, this is powerful!


  13. anmol(alias HA)
    Apr 17, 2019 @ 05:11:20

    Yes, yes — your words ring with that rage and a blatant honesty of your thoughts without superseding it to the believes widely held to be true and solemn. A poet as a terrorist made me wonder of how terrorizing certain ideas can be for the mainstream. Let the poet terrorize then and say what they have to say. I love your last lines!


  14. sanaarizvi
    Apr 17, 2019 @ 05:15:14

    I can’t help but feel the urge to read the ’69 version! Eloquent write.


  15. Kerry
    Apr 17, 2019 @ 09:47:10

    Everyone is entitled to express themselves in the way that is most meaningful to them.


    • kanzensakura
      Apr 17, 2019 @ 10:00:42

      Yes they are, even if writers get tiresome writing tbe same old stuff in tbe same old way which inckudes me. ❤

      Get Outlook for Android



  16. Suzanne
    Apr 17, 2019 @ 20:25:28

    Great stuff Tori. Like you I have long enjoyed the poetry of the beats. You capture the feeling of those poems well here.


  17. coalblack
    Apr 18, 2019 @ 07:59:41

    Ferlinghetti was an early favorite of mine. I have carried around “A Coney Island Of The Mind” for 40+ years now.


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