Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature: over 400,000 monthly users

Abby Zimet: Time of Useful Consciousness

A belated 98th birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, indefatigable poet, bookseller, anti-Fascist, First Amendment activist, environmentalist, publisher, painter, creator of community, patron saint of the Beat artists, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, living monument to the arts, “old-ass anarchist” and dazzlingly prescient speaker of truth whose City Lights bookstore has served as a beacon of enlightenment, creativity and resistance since the 1950s. Ferlinghetti inspired the 2009 documentary “A Rebirth of Wonder,” he titled his 2013 collection of poems “Time of Useful Consciousness” for the vital moment a pilot is aware of coming disaster and can still act, and he is working on a stream-of-consciousness memoir he likes to call “Portrait of the Artist As An Old Red.”

In a riff on Kahlil Gibran’s “Pity the Nation,” Ferlinghetti wrote his own searing version ten years ago; it could be today. Likewise prophetically, he began his 2007 prose book, “Poetry as Insurgent Art,” with, “I am signaling you through the flames.” They continue to rise. May he, too.

Pity the Nation

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.

― Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Copyright 2017 Abby Zimet. First published in Common Dreams.


One comment on “Abby Zimet: Time of Useful Consciousness

  1. Vox Populi
    April 6, 2017

    Thanks for catching the typo.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 12,123 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 4,308,569 hits


%d bloggers like this: