Thanks to Sonya Bhagat for introducing me to today's poem
(Poem #614) The pennycandystore beyond the El
The pennycandystore beyond the El is where I first fell in love with unreality Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom of that september afternoon A cat upon the counter moved among the licorice sticks and tootsie rolls and Oh Boy Gum Outside the leaves were falling as they died A wind had blown away the sun A girl ran in Her hair was rainy Her breasts were breathless in the little room Outside the leaves were falling and they cried Too soon! too soon!
Note: The El was the New York City '9th Avenue Elevated' railway line Today's poem touches upon another of my favourite themes - the magic unreality that childhood can imbue the world with. The pennycandystore (and don't you just love the way it's runtogetherasoneword?) takes on the aspect of an enchanted cave, a little enclave of magic, wonder and, of course, candy offering a retreat from the grey September day. The contrasting images are nicely drawn - the glowing jellybeans and the cat atop the counter within, and without, the rain, the sunlessness, and the 'leaves falling as they died'. And as a distinct chord, there's the fact that the half-light, the rainy autumnal setting has a magic all its own - a slightly more personal reading of the poem, perhaps, but one borne out by phrases like 'a wind had blown away the sun', and the girl whose hair was 'rainy'. It's mostly the connotations of the words - 'wet' is damp, sodden, unattractive. 'Rainy' is little drops of water sparkling even in the semi-gloom of the afternoon, complementing the image of the flushed, 'breathless' girl. Of course, the symbolism in the last verse is a gloomy reminder that all this is evanescent, that childhood passes too soon. But, as the girl running into the candy store seems to proclaim, for the moment, it doesn't really matter, does it? Biography: Levi Asher's 'Literary Kicks' site has an excellent biography and assessment of Ferlinghetti. Quoting a bit I particularly liked Ferlinghetti is still active today as a poet and as the proprietor of City Lights. I hope I won't seem politically incorrect for saying this, but after immersing myself in the writings of the guilt-obsessed asexual Jack Kerouac, the ridiculously horny Allen Ginsberg and the just plain sordid William S. Burroughs ... it's nice to read a few poems by a guy who can get excited about a little penny candy store under the El or a pretty woman letting a stocking drop to the floor. -- http://www.litkicks.com/People/LawrenceFerlinghetti.html I'd strongly encourage you to go read the full thing, and explore the rest of the site while you're at it. Links: For a beautiful page on the El, complete with pictures, see [broken link] http://www.nycsubway.org/irt/irt-els/9th-ave-el.html Penny candy seems to be a dying tradition, albeint one being revived by nostalgists. See http://lkwdpl.org/lore/lore148.htm for example. Let me recommend once again the Literary Kicks site http://www.litkicks.com, a vibrant paean to the Beat generation, and Asher's other project, a self-styled 'web album' entitled 'Queensboro Ballads' which no lover of NYC should miss, at http://www.levity.com/brooklyn/. The first poem today's called to mind was Millay's 'The Unexplorer', poem #49 Not far behind it was Heaney's 'Song', poem #61 And, on the New York front, 'Teasdale's Central Park at Dusk', poem #464 -martin