Patti Smith – “ladies and gentlemen blaise cendrars is not dead” (1971)

April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm (Patti Smith, Poetry & Literature)

ladies and gentleman
blaise cendrars is not dead

     by patti smith

Ladies and gentlemen
Blaise Cendrars is not dead
that rummy you buried in such
grave ceremony was his own enemy
true the right arm gone
Blaise slashed it himself
that little puff box run
run at the mouth
was jack rolling our hero
with a wicked pack of cards
But Blaise a jack dandy himself
noted the error
(all the chips were on puff boxes’ side)
and like the great Hammurabi
Blaise cut him down
right hand for that bad hand of poker

He is alive in every marked deck
every poker chip
he has a pair of slick dice
and he’ll wheel you straight to hell
and when you dial round the black market
you deal with him
yes it’s our man who drops that cigar ash
on the receiving end
yes it’s him crooning liquid music
and sonorous tin pan
through every cable line
linking every slob sister swindler
little snakesman two bit gambler
even slightly illegal and angel
has an ash in their vest pocket
and a kodak of that scoundrel
vainer now one armed crack face
than this mock hardy youth
he drags me in and out
of every photo booth
and praises in bad poetry
the polaroid sixty second snap

A fool hearty documentarian
his choppers have spun the globe
and for want of a straw hat we were trapped
knee deep in the swamps of Panama
we suffered malaria
and as a result
slaughtered 2/3 the mosquito population
of that hot hole
Christ it was a lusty battle
we were sick with laughter
and sick ourselves
runny assed and cunt with clap
hair red with crabs and lice
in our boots we rolled our own smokes
twisted up a few panama reds
and plotted the destruction of that wily insect
we danced to Vulcan our private god of flame
and sacrificed a few of those blood suckers
snapping their heads with our nails
which turned our hero slightly pale

Some years I bragged the beauty of my hands
I cried,
“I have music neath these fingernails”
and true these fists never failed
to spiel whole logs full of
literatures Roman a clef
and now it’s come to this
mosquito in fire
mosquito death hiss

Christ then it began again
the old fever and thirst
for raging fire
with torches we ran whole lengths
of those Panama fields
and as the brush caught up
I cried out in my most disgusting French
Blaze on Blaise
and that bastard burnt me with a cigarette

Like a great epic movie
we’ve reeled the world
why only six months ago
I assisted that cur in the most marvelous
hoax of the gentle midwest
Our wagon rolling in a dry bone state
Blaise posed as Louis Saucer
humble rainmaker prophet in rain boots
but when the clouds cracked
the white rain was liquor
and all of Iowa was soused with tequila
every pour sap that poured to the scene
of the great rain left drenched
to the teeth
and drunk to the teeth

Blaise curled that famous lip
and we laughed and laughed
and caused more mischief since
It was his ticklish fingers
that caused Mick the jagger
to dance like a fish
he shot lightning from the theatres
robbed the actors of their shadows
and backstage mirrors
it was his sassy diseased kiss
that laid miss universe out with the mumps
the recession? our man’s been pinballing
with the Jewish jewel thieves
feeding opium into IBM
and sparing no one the bugger
robs school children

The dirty shit still spits poetry
between his clicking spaced teeth
tracing aerial views of Greenland
land of the treacherous iceage
and fanatic hun
gold mine dreams in goat canyon
charting the gold where the moon slaps
then drunk with that special glitter
running lyrics in gold dust inks.



  1. Christine Le Quellec Cottier said,

    I publish a journal issue, on the work of the writer Cendrars, and for the 60th birthday of his dead, I wish to publish Patti Smith “Ladies and gentlemen…”.
    Is it OK for you with this note : © Patti Smith
    The Beat Patrol. Music and Beat literature-related blogsite

    Thanks for your answer !! Christine

  2. Christine Le Quellec Cottier said,


    I asked you, the 1st of June 2021, if I can publish Patti Smith poem “Ladies and gentlemen, …”
    It’s for an academic journal (Constellation Cendrars), 500 prints, and no earnings on publication.

    We will precise © Patti Smith.
    Is it ok for you, or for her ?

    Thank you for your reply.

    If I do not hear from you I will take that as sign of your acceptance.

    Christine Le Quellec

    • jmucci said,

      Yes, go ahead.

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