Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Favorite Poemer

April was National Poetry Month and I managed to nearly let it slip by unnoticed. Several of my blogroll buddies have been far more dedicated. The Geekwif has been including poems in nearly every post this month. Karen from Read/Think/Live posted about a really cool haiku-style poem form based on the Fibonacci Series. And of course, Lisa Manzi from Lam(b) is a real life published poet.

I find being a professional poet a very devoted calling since "nobody gets paid to be a poemer" to quote Bucky the Cat. That may not be totally true, but poetry is definitely one of more underpaid career choices.

My favorite poet is the late Richard Brautigan. Brautigan is one of the minor Beat poets known for his quirky metaphors and non sequitor style. His novel Trout Fishing in America is his most famous work, but I find his poetry just as mind expanding and intriguing.

In high school, I found a rather tattered copy of Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt at the used bookstore I practically lived in. I would get to English class a little early and write one of his poems on the chalkboard as an alternative to all the traditional poems we would study in class. I’m not sure my teacher appreciated my contribution, but she at least tolerated it.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Have You Ever Felt Like A Wounded Cow

Have you ever felt like a wounded cow
halfway between an oven and a pasture?
walking in a trance toward a pregnant
seventeen-year-old housewife’s
two-day-old cookbook?
Propelled By Portals Whose Only Shame

Propelled by portals whose only shame
is a zeppelin’s shadow crossing a field
of burning bathtubs,
I ask myself: There must be more to life
than this?
Nice Ass

There is so much lost
and so much gained in
those words.

The last poem was always particularly provocative. People who were offended by it (and there were many) obviously just didn’t “get it.”

Richard Brautigan died of a self-inflicted gun-shot wound in 1984. His body wasn’t found until about six weeks after his death. Friends had become suspicious of his absence and broke into his home to find him.

A poet’s life can be very lonely, but no one should die that alone.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

So let me get this straight... you wrote a poem called "Nice Ass" on the classroom chalkboard - and your teacher tolerated it?

I would loved to have walked into the classroom that day!

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

Very profound, yellojkt. I'd have given you an A.

Impetua said...

This is a favorite poem given to me by one of my friends:

Little men
In little chairs
Go bippity-boppity
Down the stairs.

It has no deeper meaning except to illustrate the absurd...

yellojkt said...

I'm not sure I ever used the "Nice Ass" poem in school. The other poems were twisted enough.

Anonymous said...

I remember clearly the day that Brautigan's death became a news item.

One of my many favorites of his:


I remember all those thousands of hours
that I spent in grade school watching the clock,
waiting for recess or lunch or to go home.
Waiting: for anything but school.
My teachers could easily have ridden with Jesse James
for all the time they stole from me.

Anonymous said...

Man, I love Richard Brautigan!

When I was in high school, a friend told me about Trout Fishing in America, and when I read that I knew she was the coolest friend I would ever have in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

One of my favorites:

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Francisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, "Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it."
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, "What kind
of a hamburger stand
is this?"

I also love the essay called "Complicated Banking Problems" and the one where he replaces his plumbing with poetry--it's been a while, and the details have faded, but not the imagery and the memory of what a thrill it was to discover Brautigan's work.

Thanks for this trip down memory lane!

Anonymous said...

Trout Fishing in America

I blame Achenblog for making me forget that the more evolved blogs have italics!!

Bonvallet said...

That style of writing kind of reminds me of Tom Waits.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, I went through the collected poems of Frank O'Hara for national poetry month, and I realized that trying to read 600 pages of poetry in a month is a mistake. However, it did inspire a thought that I later found out a great poet had already said -- even great poets just have a handful of great poems in them. I loved "Lana Turner has collapsed", but so many of the other poems in the book didn't interest me at all. This year I went with Philip Larkin's "High Windows". It's 44 pages and had two poems I liked. That was a much better ratio.

Anonymous said...

I posted something about Brautigan in April as well...this is one of my favorites....

A fly is sleeping…on a paper napkin. I have to wake him up, so I can wipe my glasses. There's a pretty girl I want to look at.

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