Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)

Constantly risking absurdity

                                          and death

            whenever he performs

                                       above the heads

                                                           of his audience

   the poet like an acrobat

                                 climbs on rime

                                         to a high wire of his own making

and balancing on eyebeams

                                    above a sea of faces

             paces his way

                             to the other side of day

    performing entrechats

                               and sleight-of-foot tricks

and other high theatrics

                               and all without mistaking

                     any thing

                              for what it may not be

 

       For he’s the super realist

                                  who must perforce perceive

                  taut truth

                               before the taking of each stance or step

in his supposed advance

                                toward that still higher perch

where Beauty stands and waits

                                   with gravity

                                             to start her death-defying leap

 

      And he

             a little charleychaplin man

                                        who may or may not catch

               her fair eternal form

                                   spreadeagled in the empty air

                of existence

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)” from A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems. Copyright © 2008 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1958).