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After the Cries of the Birds

Narrated by Bill Wolak

New Jersey

Lawrence Ferlinghetti – After the Cries of the Birds

Hurrying thru eternity

              after the cries of the birds has stopped

I see the “future of the world”

                       in a new visionary society

                      now only dimly recognizable

                         in folk-rock ballrooms

               free-form dancers in ecstatic clothing

                      their hearts their gurus

                       every man his own myth

                         butterflies in amber

                                  caught fucking life

   hurrying thru eternity

                         to a new pastoral era

 I see the shadows of that future

       in that white island

                            which is San Francisco

       floating in its foreign sea

                                   seen high on a hill

                        in the Berkeley Rose Garden

        looking West at sunset to the Golden Gate

           adrift in its Japanese landscape

                     under Mt. Tamal-Fuji

                     with its grazing bulls

                                    hurrying thru heaven

             the city with its white buildings

                 “a temple to some unknown god”

                         (as Voznesensky said)

    after the cries of the birds has stopped

         I see the sea come in

                         over South San Francisco

      and the island of the city

                               truly floated free at last

         never really a part of America

            East East and West West

                and the twain met long ago

   in “the wish to pursue what lies beyond

                                    the mind”

    and with no place to go but In

               after Columbus recovered America

   and the West Coast captured by some

                                Spanish Catholics

     cagily getting the jump by sea

         coveredwagons crawling over lost plains

                                hung up in Oklahoma

              Prairie schooners into Pullmans

while whole tribes of Indians

                shake hopeless feather lances

                and disappear over the horizon

      to reappear centuries later

                          feet up and smoking wild cigars

             at the corner of Hollywood & Vine

hurrying thru eternity

        must we wait for the cries of the birds

                                               to be stopped

                                     before we dig In

After centuries of running

                 up & down the Coast of West

  looking for the right place to jump off

                                           further Westward

    the Gutenberg Galaxy casts its light no further

          the “Westward march of civilization”

         comes to a dead stop on the shores of

            Big Sur Portland & Santa Monica

              and turns upon itself at last

                after the cries of the birds has stopped

   must we wait for that

                       to dig a new model

                        of the universe

                      with instant communication

                         a world village

          in which every human being is a part of us

       though we be still throw-aways

                         in an evolutionary progression

 as Spengler reverses himself

                Mark Twain meets Jack London

                   and turns back to Mississippi

                     shaking his head

       and the Last Frontier

                     having no place to go but In

       can’t face it

                    and buries its head

 Western civilization gone too far West

                             might suffer a sea-change

          into Something Else Eastern

                                   and that won’t do

   The Chinese are coming anyway

                        time we prepared their tea

       Gunga Din still with us

         Kipling nods & cries I told you so!

             the French King hollers Merde!

                and abandons his Vietnam bordel

but not us

             we love them too much for that

though the Mayflower turned around sets sail again

  back to Plymouth England (and the

                                   Piltdown letdown)

   misjudging the coast & landing in Loverpool

      American poets capture Royal Albert Hall

        The Jefferson Airplane takes off

                                       and circles heaven



It all figures

                  in a new litany

                                     probably pastoral

  after the cries of the birds has stopped

         Rose petals fall

                        in the Berkeley Rose Garden

where I sit trying to remember

                the lines about rose leaves

  in the Four Quartets

                 Stella kisses her lover in the sunset 

                           under an arbor

          A Los Angeles actor nearby goes Zap! Zap!

                           at the setting sun

    It is the end

                 I drop downhill

            into a reception for Anaïs Nin

               with a paperbag full of rose leaves

      She is autographing her Book

              I empty the bag over her head from behind

            Her gold lacquered hair sheds the petals

               They tumble red & yellow on her

                                           signed book

    Girl again she presses them

                               between the leaves


                               like fallen friends

              Her words

                        flame in my heart

                     Virginia Woolf under water

                             she drifts away on the book

      a leaf herself blowing skittered

                                    over the horizon

    The wish to pursue what lies beyond the mind

                  lies just beyond

           Ask a flower what it does

                  to move beyond the senses

   Our cells hate metal

                      The tide turns

    We shoot holes in the clouds’ trousers

          and napalm sears the hillsides

       skips a bridge

    narrows to a grass hut full of charred bodies

 and is later reported looking like

             “The eternal flame at Kennedy’s grave”

      A tree flowers red It can’t run


Shall we now advance into the 21st century?

     I see the lyric future of the world

         on the beaches of Big Sur

              gurus at Jack’s Flats

        nudes swart maidens swimming

          in pools of sunlight

          Kali on the beach

   guitarists with one earring

lovely birds in long dresses and Indian headbands


                 What does this have to do with Lenin?


  Die-hard Maoists lie down together crosswise

                           and out comes a string

                           of Chinese firecrackers

              and after the cries of the birds

                                    has stopped

          Chinese junks show up suddenly

            off the coast of Big Sur

    filled with more than Chinese philosophers

                         dreaming they are butterflies

  How shall we greet them? Are we ready

                              to receive them?

     Shall we put out koan steppingstones

                             scrolls & bowls

          greet them with agape

        Tu Fu and bamboo flutes at midnight?

           Big Sur junk meet

               Chinese junk?

Will they ride the breakers into Bixby Cove?

      Will they bring their women with them

            Will we take them on the beach

         like Ron Boise’s lovers in Kama Sutra

  face them with Zen zazen & tea

 made from the dust of the wings

       of butterflies dreaming

                they’re philosophers?

Or meet them with last war’s tanks

   roaring out of Fort Ord

      down the highways & canyons

        shooting as they come

  flame-throwers flaming jelly

                      into the Chinese rushes

                      under the bridge at Bixby?

 The U.S. owns the highway but is Big Sur

                                   in the USA?

       San Francisco floats away

       beyond the three-mile limit

  of the District of Eternal Revenue

       No need to pay your taxes

     The seas come in to cover us

    Agape we are & agape we’ll be



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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