Blind Poet By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

(To be performed with a blindfold)

I am a blind poet but I am not Homer

I am your blind poet and painter full of

fantastic phrases and images


I am painting the landscape of my soul

and the soul of mankind

as I see it

I am giving it a voice

I am singing folksongs

about the workers

I am singing about the downtrodden masses

and the rich on their fat asses


I am the painter who feels

with his fingers

I am the blind seeing-eye poet

I see what you can’t see


I eat well and drink well

and dream of great epics

I am your postmodern pastmodern multimedia artist

I am the most avant of the avant


I’m site-specific and totally


Even the greatest critics have been baffled

by my profundity


I once knew Andy Warhol

I’ve slept with you know whom

And I’m a fast-speaking man

I am your deconstructed language poet


your far-out poet

full of ecstasies and visions

your wandering workshop poet

your university poet


with tenure

your Buddhist quietest poet

I go on poetry reading tours

where everything is paid for


I hear everything

and it’s grist to my mill

I use it all

to make great sound poetry


or great concrete poetry

that no one can see through

Life is a real dream

and I am dreaming it


And I’ve got it all in my head

the Song of Humanity

and the Song of Inhumanity

I’ll paint you a profound picture


an action painting

a gestural painting

nothing but pure gesture

I’ll write you a far-out song


of common people

If I take off my mask

I’ll see the real world

for the first time


But I won’t take it off

It fits too well

It’s a perfect fit

It’s too comfortable


And I’ve got my career to think of

my life to think of

We only live once

and living very well is the best revenge


Get your own blindfold

You can’t have mine

You’ll have to face the world

without it


And anyway I’m too young to die

I’m an American

and Americans don’t die

We’re the conquerors


We’re the new Roman emperors

We’re conquering the world

with global capitalism

I can see it but you can’t see it


It’s the Invisible Empire

And democracy is capitalism

No more poor people

No more starving and dying


No more Huddled Masses

In our empire

The rising tide lifts all boats

If you’ve got a boat


If you’ve got a boat

If you’ve got a boat ....

On April 28, Lawrence Ferlinghetti received the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement. He recited “Blind Poet” on that occasion. He is the author most recently of “How to Paint Sunlight: New Poems” and the founder of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.