Sunday, 21 February 2016

Ted Berrigan

Ted Berrigan – do I have to write much of an introduction?

One of the key figures of the second generation of New York School poets; charismatic leader of the bohemian literary scene of the Lower East Side in the 1970s; a master of intricate, subtle modulations in emotion and cadence; unique and passionate poet who’s poetry projected a “sensibility that is confiding, sad, graceful, affectionate, and indistinguishable from the sensibility he projected in person” (Poetry Foundation).

In his short career – brought to an early end by his death in 1983 – he published more than 20 books of poetry. If he had had his will, his grave stone at the military cemetery Calverton National on Long Island would read: “Nice To See You.” But cemetery regulations wouldn’t allow it. Instead a volume of essays, poems and reminiscences by his many friends and fellow poets now bears this name (Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan, edited by Anne Waldman, Coffee House Press, 1991).


My silly, little poem below merely borrowed from Berrigan in the use of a sonnet-like form. Better to steer free from any temptation to sound like him…

~ - ~


Shut down your local motor garage
It sends the wrong signals
You don’t want to encourage
Drivers by fixing their cars

Let the wrecks of abandoned vehicles
Block the entrance of every road and highway
Let the fools break their toes
Kicking their malfunctioning cars

I don’t just say it out of spite
Proudly waving my bus pass
Or seeking revenge of each time they sped
Through a puddle on the side of the road

It’s just that the evidence now so is overwhelming:
At this rate we are heading for a 5-degree-rise.

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