I was all set to put up a post about Gerald Stern (it would begin “I’m in love with Gerald Stern”) when, thanks to The Writer’s Almanac, I realized yesterday was the anniversary of Richard Brautigan’s birth.
I can’t think of anything more momentous for the small press than Richard Brautigan’s birth. In fact, I can’t think of anything more lyrically momentous than Richard Brautigan’s birth when it comes to the legacy of that flower generation. You know who you are out there: bankers, lawyers, cheats, lovers, cowards, colleagues, lechers, thieves, poets, screamers, corpses, parents, betrayers. There was a moment in your lives, all your lives, when, briefly, in your field of vision, in the middle distance, everything coalesced; it all made perfect sense, there, there it is: and like a wisp of scent, it wafted off.
Richard Brautigan, gone. What he left behind has been praised, ridiculed, despised, laughed at, admired, wept over, and, most tragically, forgotten. Among others, he was the reason that an entire generation of men let down their guard. What a thought! How many took up the pen when they realized they could say, with varying degrees of proficiency, what they felt rather than what they knew. Imagine that!
So, I scurried off to my bookshelf to leaf through my collection of Brautigan poesy for something momentous to post and, lo and behold, it’s almost nowhere to be found. Just two copies of Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt and a copy of Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. This is what happens when you decide to patch some plaster and the next thing you know, you are painting two rooms and moving everything around, including the floor to ceiling books that were stuffed into said rooms. In a panic, I head off on the net only to discover, at brautigan.net, that his poetry collections, annotated at that, are all up and online. The presentation isn’t very appealing but it is what it is: the work. I highly recommend you knock yourself out. For some it will be nostalgia, for others, truth.
I believe, for me, the word is love.
Well, I can hardly continue without at least one Brautigan gem, to entice you toward the others. From Rommel …
Feasting and Drinking Went on Far into the Night
Feasting and drinking went on far into the night
but in the end we went home alone to console ourselves
which seems to be what so many things are all about
like the branches of a tree just after the wind
This week’s featured back issue of Lilliput Review is #142, published in January 2005:
Another good day.
No one wanted my life
and I returned the favor.
Pencil Sharpener: Hand-Held
Dunce cap with a razor crease
Thin plastic on the outside,
but the cone recedes
to infinity. Perhaps there is
a tree of knowledge. You
get wood shavings, lead dust.
fronds, their dog, balm of gilead
stories unfold in the ferns
if you know how to find them
and pick with respect
you can live on what you hear
and never go hungry
and never get full
I’d like to think that Richard would have liked these poems. Very much.
Till next week,