Friday Poems: Diane di Prima

Today's poem is by Diane di Prima. I had never heard of her until last night when I was reading about her in Word of Mouth (which I was reading again because it's due back at the library today). 

An Italian-American poet and major figure of the beat movement, how have I never run across her considering my dad came of age in the 60s and my English degree?


photo courtesy of The University of Louisville

From the book's introduction: "She believes there is a worldwide war going on against the imagination, and that we have to resist at all costs the flattening and deadening of our dreams." This anthology of poems was published in 2003 so I really wonder if her opinion has changed considering the explosion of creativity on the web via blogs, Etsy, etc.

Here now is our Friday Poem, which di Prima wrote for her maternal nonno.

April Fool Birthday Poem for Grandpa
by Diane di Prima

Today is your
birthday and I have tried
writing these things before,
but now
in the gathering madness, I want to
thank you
for telling me what to expect
for pulling
no punches, back there in that scrubbed Bronx parlor
thank you
for honestly weeping in time to
innumerable heartbreaking
italian operas for
pulling my hair when I
pulled the leaves off the trees so I'd
know how it feels, we are
involved in it now, revolution, up to our
knees and the tide is rising, I embrace
strangers on the street, filled with their love and
mine, the love you told us had to come or we
die, told them all in that Bronx park, me listening in
spring Bronx dusk, breathing stars, so glorious
to me your white hair, your height your fierce
blue eyes, rare among italians, I stood
a ways off, looking up at you, my grandpa
people listened to, I stand
a ways off listening as I pour out soup
young men with light in their faces
at my table, talking love, talking revolution
which is love, spelled backwards, how
you would love us all, would thunder your anarchist wisdom
at us, would thunder Dante, and Giordano Bruno, orderly men
bent to your ends, well I want you to know
we do it for you, and your ilk, for Carlo Tresca,
for Sacco and Vanzetti, without knowing
it, or thinking about it, as we do it for Aubrey Beardsley
Oscar Wilde (all street lights shall be purple), do it
for Trotsky and Shelley and big/dumb
Kropotkin
Eisenstein's Strike people, Jean Cocteau's ennui, we do it for
the stars over the Bronx
that they may look on earth
and not be ashamed.


Phew, I don't know half of those people but it's okay! I know my grandma loved Italian opera, especially Caruso and later Bocelli of course. I wonder if my dad went to the Bronx and listened to her grandpa Dominic Mallozzi stir up the masses? And, by the way, I *totally* believe that part about the hair pulling.

Happy Friday friends, and don't forget you can enter my giveaway until 5 p.m. PST today! I will announce the winner bright and early on Monday morning.