So Long, Lamantia

Beat Generation Poetry Tributes
Poet Philip Lamantia passed away last week at the age of 77. His obituary is available at the San Francisco Chronicle, but I thought, in tribute, I'd put up a couple of his poems. Please feel free to share your thoughts about the poet or his work.

I have given fair warning


I have given fair warning
Chicago New York Los Angeles have gone down
I have gone to Swan City where the ghost
of Maldoror may still roam
The south is very civilized
I have eaten rhinoceros tail
It is the last night among crocodiles
Albion opens his fist in a palm grove
I shall watch speckled jewel grow
on the back of warspilt horses
Exultation rides by
A poppy size of the sun in my skull
I have given fair warning
at the time of corpses and clouds
I can make love here as anywhere


There is this distance between me
and what I see


There is this distance between me and what I see
everywhere immanence of the presence of God
no more ekstasis
a cool head
watch watch watch
I'm here
He's over there . . . It's an Ocean . . .
sometimes I can't think of it, I fail, fall
This IS this look of love
there IS the tower of David
there IS the throne of Wisdom
there IS this silent look of love
Constant flight in air of the Holy Ghost
I long for the luminous darkness of God
I long for the superessential
light of this darkness
another darkness I long for the end of longing
I long for the
it is Nameless what I long for
a spoken word caught in its own
meat saying nothing
This nothing ravishes beyond ravishing
There IS this look of love
Throne Silent look of love

6 Responses to "So Long, Lamantia"

by Steve Plonk on

A Poppy the Size of the Sun..."A Poppy the Size of the Sun:In Honor of Philip Lamantia."A poppy the size of the sunCame up in my windowWhen the day begunThe scent nectar of light awakened me,Filtered through the curtainsPsychedelically informed my senses...A poppy the size of the sunShowed the flowers whichWay to turn their headsTo follow the huge shining flowerIn the morning sky.A poppy the size of the sunMelted the sleet which cameDown as rain and the waterBegan to run in riverletsOf shining crystal H20Down into the garden spotBelow a hughmongus georgia pine.Meanwhile, the poppy the size of the sunShines the way for Philip Lamantia's SoulWhich is flying toward God's sonFor a wonderful judgement day...As we speak the muse for The soul of a beknighted oneA seer of San FranciscoWhose mind's eye held The light of this glorious poppy.Who imagined in print for us to see-Reminiscing verses which nurtured our soulsAs we hoe our garden spot...We give this title back to him.

by WIREMAN on

Cool GraceSunglassed splendor steppin' outta limosall over town.Six Gallery readingJack passin' roundthe bottle, Whalen, Allenhowlin, McClure, Snyder,Beat Surrealist obscuringthe shade. Lamantia sliding into the fray, reading thatstarted a revolution, callit no confusion, resonatingtill this very day.

by judih. on

My words inadequateLamantia's voice is such a multi-dimensional tapestried voice, that all i can offer is more of his own words:Oneiric Reversal I implore the raven of dust to drop his signet, water-drawn, fury's flower, dawn's bucket, that reconnoiters the winding terrace to the absolute tuber.The Night in her golden lancet sings over the skyscraper I hunt, my doorway adrift to the heat the child's mind leaps.A room of spiked faces replaced by the shredded lake-at-arms where she walks the street of floating sparks... and I, medused... What sleeps away returns an entrance kicked back by the shadow opening the great flower of Night...Sun-downthe evening side upblack lipstick and corolla of thirstall the children are necrophiles at bayThe river, peeling dust, salutes this walking prey: cobbled limestone of a glance more dangerous than clover's sighing foot.The road to the pit in the sky: to see a dog typing into a cat's liver. No breakfast for the flying spider. The dream of a labyrinth is the shark's love for humanity leaning to the unknown the geometric wave's scorpion biting on a window pane of sodomized glass. (from Becoming Visible, City Lights Books, Pocket Poets Series Number 39)

by ARAHH on

Disciples of Disciplines"I Am ComingI am following her to the wavering moonto a bridge by the long waterfrontto valleys of beautiful arsonto flowers dead in a mirror of loveto men eating wild minutes from a clockto hands playing in celestial pocketsand to that dark room beside a castleof youthful voices singing to the moon.When the sun comes up she will live at a skycovered with sparrow's bloodand wrapped in robes of lost decay.But I am coming to the moon,and she will be there in a musical night,in a night of burning laughterburning like a road of my brainpouring its arm into the lunar lake."(Selected Poems 1943-1966, City Lights Pocket Poets Series No.20)I held this poem out to my long hair, then, exactly 32 years ago, walking along the river Seine,and felt like I had imitated the crystal music, the halo spheresof his poems already during puberty and early twenties' flows.Somehow associative writing I thought, stream of consciousness -but with another functional giving the order, the echo, wind chimes.And when I read this now, or that magnificent 'Bed of Sphinxes', I'm still amazed, touched, carried away, more than by my own poems which I thought were written with the same texure, at least for me.It's like a rare meeting, of a fellow spirit, a special radiance within a gem, also time-dependent in its sparkle. For me, his work is also central-BEAT, for I'm no critic, I'm allowed to blur the boundaries.So long, beautiful mind !BreakerThe load found its new way through magificent ashesprimates' greetings filling the air, the flowers kissed by rainthat only they would find a tune a change a hollowed signa mason's portal eyesunsleeping veeringdaring clusters, within her nightbed's ease, ridiculous sins swarmed the rivers unsleepingwhenyou wouldn't leave anywaythese losses of tracks, your shoes, the red of your cheeksreal artistry on glassy threads, red-hot ravens, transitions, secrets in the cold hall interactions by the waterfall, crises, separations, dizzy multi-layers of solvents wherethe snake yawned at new-born children, bubbling colors of questions,monopoly of informations chalked paths to impregnated laughter tears efforts changesnothing to lose in all this strange dreampetals, proposals and sometimes a good friend by the windmill orpeeping from the caveand an eery taste of balance:morning's first warmtha tender relief -your hand dripping

by Lord Frankenbaum on

Take It Cool, PhilHis poetry shows that he was well prepared for his passage hence.

by Poetrybay on

A Poem For PhilipGeorge WallaceFALLING RAIN for Philip Lamantiaa blind man walking in a city is a black bird flying through a burning forest. a black bird flying through a burning forest is a street map to a blind man. a blind man is a black bird flying at night through a burning forest who recognizes the smell of rain. in fact it is night. in fact it is raining. in fact a black bird flying through a burning city is a streetmap of rain to a blind man. in fact a blind man at night in rain recognizes the streets of a city like the back of his hand. in fact a blind man who recognizes the tender smell of rain in a burning forest is a black bird. in fact the back of a blind man's hand is a burning forest when a black bird is flying through it. a black bird is instinctual. a blind man stepping off a curb into the streets of a city is instinctual. rain falling in a burning forest at night is instinctual. a blind man walking through a city is rain falling in a burning forest. a blind man who has a tattoo of a black bird on the back of his hand resembles falling rain.