The Jersey Shore

Ferlinghetti wrote his poems
at City Lights Bookstore
in San Francisco, hipster by the Bay,
while I write over coffee
on the cold New Jersey shore,
next door to the Shop ‘n Bag
at Lucille’s Cafe.

Ferlinghetti and his friends
talked Marcel Proust and Sartre.
Here, football and fishing are
things closer to the heart.
But at Lucille’s they also speak
of friends who died too young,
of work and its frustrations
and it’s really the same tongue—
existentialism, with a few less complications.

Lucille’s accents are tender
underneath the Jersey tough,
and sitting here I see that
Big Sur culture’s not enough
to raise up all the poems we need
to speak to all the hearts
of how things come together
and of how things fall apart.

This poem is reprinted with permission.

Listen to Parker Palmer’s On Being interview, “Repossessing Virtue: Economic Crisis, Morality, and Meaning.”