Patti Smith, the Poet.

Patti is not just a wonderful rocker, an engaged artist, an activist and a rebel, but she is also a talented wordsmith. These are just a few reasons for which I admire her. At her last concert here in Rome, in the Summer of 2010, it was a pleasant surprise to discover how much she loved Pasolini's works and how she had felt compelled to visit the place where he had been murdered. Her autobiographical book "Just Kids" is a great ride. But, her poems--permeated with her love for William Blake and Arthur Rimbaud--blow me away every time I read them. Her words have the power to scratch my soul. I welcome the bleeding.

THE WRITER'S SONG

I did not wish to work
I did not wish to earn
but to curl with my jar
in the sweet sorghum
I laid my mat among the reeds
I could hear the freeman call
oh my life
what does it matter
will the reed cease bending
with the leper turn
I had a horn I did not blow
I had a sake and another
I could hear the freeman
drunk with sky
what matter me cry
will the moon swell
will the flame shy
bonsai bonsai
it is better to write
then die
in the blue crater
set with straw
I could hear
the freeman call
the way is hard
the gate is narrow
what matter I say
with the new mown hay
my pillow
I had a sake and another
I did not care to own nor rove
I wrote my name upon water
nothing but nothing above
bonsai bonsai
it is better to write
then die
a thousand souvenirs
a thousand prayers
set away in earthenware
we drew the jars
from the shelves
drink our parting
from ourselves
so be we king
or be we bum
the reed still whistles
the heart still hums


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