Brautigan > All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's poetry collection All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. Published in 1967, this collection of seventeen poems was Brautigan's fifth published poetry book. Publication and background information is provided, along with reviews, many with full text. Use the menu tabs

                     

Contents

Unless noted, the thirty-two poems collected in All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace were first published in this volume. All were collected and reprinted in The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.
By default all items are listed and are presented in ascending order. Use the checkboxes above to limit the items listed and present the items in alphabetical and/or reverse order.

 


I go to bed in Los Angeles thinking
     about you.

Pissing a few moments ago
I looked down at my penis
     affectionately.

Knowing it has been inside
you twice today makes me
     feel beautiful.

               3 A.M.
               January 15, 1967

Background
Written during Brautigan's poet-in-residency at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, California, 17-26 January 1967. Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Sunday, 15 January 1967 in order to spend the following ten days at Cal Tech. Arriving at night, they were housed in the guest suite at Ricketts House on the Cal Tech campus where they enjoyed a late night party. As he recounts, at three in the morning, Brautigan remembered his passionate morning with then girlfriend Michaela Blake-Grand.

First Published
The Communication Company, April 1967
Mimeographed letter-sized (8.5" x 11") broadside.
Learn more


She's mending the rain with her hair.
She's turning the darkness on.
     Glue / switch!
That's all I have to report.

Background
Retitled "November 24" in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster table of contents, although the poem itself retains the original title.

Selected Reprints
Four Poems. Synaesthesia Press: Tempe, Arizona, 2000.
Learn more.

San Francisco Express Times, vol. 1, no. 49, December 24, 1968: 8-9.
Learn more

The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more


ZAP!
unlaid / for 20 days

my sexual image
isn't worth a shit.

If I were dead
I couldn't attract
a female fly.

Selected Reprints
The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more


I'm sitting in a cafe,
drinking a Coke.

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.

First Published
O'er, no. 2, December 1966, pp. 107-109.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Totem, March 1966. Pasadena, CA
Learn more.

Four Poems. Synaesthesia Press: Tempe, Arizona, 2000.
Learn more.

Shake the Kaleidoscope: A New Anthology of Modern Poetry. Edited by Milton Klonsky. Simon & Schuster, 1973, pp. 274-276.
Learn more.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Telephone Door That Leads Eventually to Some Love Poems," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


Butcher, baker, candlestick maker,
anybody can get VD,
including those you love.

Please see a doctor
if you think you've got it.

You'll feel better afterwards
and so will those you love.

First Published
The Communication Company, April 1967.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed broadside.
Learn more.

Background
This poem is about veneral disease, urging anyone who thinks they have it so see a doctor. Inspiration for the poem may have come from Brautigan's possible treatment from Dr. Alex L. Finkle, a San Francisco urologist, for veneral disease in December 1964, while living with Janice Meissner at 533 Divisadero Street. Published as a broadside it is typical of the efforts of the Communication Company to inform the Haight-Ashbury community.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


     This poem was found written on a paper bag by Richard Brautigan in a laundromat in San Francisco. The author is unknown.

By accident, you put
Your money in my
Machine (#4)
By accident, I put
My money in another
Machine (#6)
On purpose, I put
Your clothes in the
Empty machine full
Of water and no
Clothes

It was lonely.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


I sit here
on the perfect end
of a star,

watching light
pour itself toward
     me.

The light pours
itself through
a small hole
in the sky.

I'm not very happy,
but I can see
how things are
     faraway.

Selected Reprints
The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more


     It's so nice
to wake up in the morning
     all alone
and not have to tell somebody
     you love them
when you don't love them
     any more.

First Published
The Communication Company, 1967.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed broadside
Learn more

Selected Reprints
The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
Brautigan's poem read by Bob Prescot, Valerie Estes, Michael McClure, Margot Patterson Doss, Bruce Conner, Michaela Blake-Grand, Donald Merriam Allen/David Schaff, Ianthe Brautigan, Imogen Cunningham, Herb Caen, Betty Kirkendall, Peter Berg, Alan Stone, Antonio, Donald Merriam Allen, Cynthia Harwood, and Price Dunn.
LISTEN to Brautigan's friends read this poem.


For Marcia

I lie here in a strange girl's apartment.
She has poison oak, a bad sunburn
     and is unhappy.
She moves about the place
like distant gestures of solemn glass.

She opens and closes things.
She turns the water on,
and she turns the water off.

All the sounds she makes are faraway.
They could be in a different city.
It is dusk and people are staring
out the windows of that city.
Their eyes are filled with the sounds
     of what she is doing.

Background
Marcia Pacaud, "Marcia," from Montreal, Canada, appeared in the photograph on the front cover of The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster.

Selected Reprints
Aura Literary/Arts Review. Thunder City Press, 1977(?).
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more.


I don't know what it is,
but I distrust myself
when I start to like a girl
     a lot.

It makes me nervous.
I don't say the right things
or perhaps I start
     to examine,
          evaluate,
               compute
     what I am saying.

If I say, "Do you think it's going to rain?"
and she says, "I don't know,"
I start thinking: Does she really like me?

In other words
I get a little creepy.

A friend of mine once said,
"It's twenty times better to be friends
     with someone
than it is to be in love with them."

I think he's right and besides,
it's raining somewhere, programming flowers
and keeping snails happy.
     That's all taken care of.

               BUT
if a girl likes me a lot
and starts getting real nervous
and suddenly begins asking me funny questions
and looks sad if I give the wrong answers
and she says things like,
"Do you think it's going to rain?"
and I say, "It beats me,"
and she says, "Oh,"
and looks a little sad
at the clear blue California sky
I think: Thank God, it's you, baby, this time
     instead of me.

First Published
Hollow Orange, no. 4 1967, n. pg.
Published at 642 Shrader Street, San Francisco, California by Cranium Press
Edited by Clifford Burke
String tied wrappers
Learn more

Selected Reprints
The American Literary Anthology. Third Annual Collection. Edited by George Plimpton and Peter Ardery. Viking, 1970, pp. 384-385.
Learn more
Corrected version

The American Literary Anthology. Second Annual Collection. Edited by George Plimpton and Peter Ardery. Random House, 1969, p. 56.
Learn more
Omitted last thirteen lines.


For Jeff Sheppard

No publication
No money
No star
No fuck          

     A friend came over to the house
a few days ago and read one of my poems.
He came back today and asked to read the
same poem over again. After he finished
reading it, he said, "It makes me want
     to write poetry."

Background
Jeff Sheppard was a poet friend of Brautigan's. Their work appeared together in Hollow Orange. See the poems "Comets," "It's Raining in Love," and "Nine Things."


We are a coast people
There is nothing but ocean out beyond us.
—Jack Spicer

I sit here dreaming
long thoughts of California

at the end of a November day
below a cloudy twilight
     near the Pacific

listening to the Mamas and the Papas
     THEY'RE GREAT

singing a song about breaking
somebody's heart and digging it!

I think I'll get up
and dance around the room.

     Here I go!

Textual References
"Jack Spicer": American poet (1925-1965) and Brautigan's mentor; the quotation is from the first of "Ten Poems for Downbeat," in The Collected Books of Jack Spicer. Edited by Robin Blaser. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1975. 263.

"The Mamas and the Papas": Popular folk-rock group of the Sixties; the song is probably the exuberant "I Saw Her Again" (1966). Brautigan's first stanza may allude to their first big hit, "California Dreamin'" (1965).

Selected Reprints
A First Reader of Contemporary American Poetry. Edited by Patrick Gleason. Merrill, 1969, pp. 23-26.
Learn more


It's not quite cold enough
to go borrow some firewood
from the neighbors.

Selected Reprints
Volta, no. 2, March 2009
Limited edition of approximately 150 copies; 50 laid into Volta the rest given away to friends of the press.
Published by Jim Camp, Synaesthesia Press.
Learn more.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


At 1:30 in the morning a fart
smells like a marriage between
an avocado and a fish head.

I have to get out of bed
to write this down without
     my glasses on.

Selected Reprints
Four Poems. Synaesthesia Press: Tempe, Arizona, 2000.
Learn more.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


I changed her bedroom:
raised the ceiling four feet,
removed all of her things
(and the clutter of her life)
painted the walls white,
placed a fantastic calm
     in the room,
a silence that almost had a scent,
put her in a low brass bed
with white satin covers,
and I stood there in the doorway
watching her sleep, curled up,
with her face turned away
     from me.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


Dance toward me, please, as
if you were a star
with light-years piled
on top of your hair,
     smiling,

and I will dance toward you
as if I were darkness
with bats piled like a hat
     on top of my head.

Selected Reprints
Aura Literary/Arts Review Thunder City Press, 1977(?).
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more.

Shake the Kaleidoscope: A New Anthology of Modern Poetry. Edited by Milton Klonsky. Simon & Schuster, 1973, pp. 274-276.
Learn more

The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more


The moon like:
mischievous bacon
crisps its desire

          (while)

I harbor myself
toward two eggs
over easy.

Selected Reprints
Volta, no. 1, March 2000
Limited edition of approximately 150 copies; 50 laid into Volta the rest given away to friends of the press.
Published by Jim Camp, Synaesthesia Press.
Learn more.


My magic is down.
My spells mope around
the house like sick old dogs
with bloodshot eyes
watering cold wet noses.

My charms are in a pile
in the corner like the
dirty shirts of a summer fatman.

One of my potions died
last night in the pot.
It looks like a cracked
Egyptian tablecloth.

Selected Reprints
Aura Literary/Arts Review. Thunder City Press, 1977(?).
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more.


January 26, 1967
at 3:15 in the afternoon

Sitting here in Los Angeles
parked on a rundown residential
     back street,
staring up at the word
     HOLLYWOOD
written on some lonely mountains,
I'm listening very carefully
to rock and roll radio
     (Lovin' Spoonful)
     (Jefferson Airplane)
while people are slowly
putting out their garbage cans.

Textual References
"Lovin' Spoonful" and "Jefferson Airplane": Two popular rock groups of the time, from New York City and San Francisco, respectively.

Selected Reprints
The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more


Magic is the color of the thing you wear
with a dragon for a button
and a lion for a lamp
with a carrot for a collar
and a salmon for a zipper.

     Hey! You're turning me on: baby.
     That's the way it's going down.

          WOW!


For Susan

Last night (here) a long pretty girl
asked me to write a poem about Albion,
so she could put it in a black folder
that has albion printed nicely
     in white on the cover.

I said yes. She's at the store now
getting something for breakfast.
I'll surprise her with this poem
     when she gets back.

Background
Althea Susan Morgan and Brautigan first met Friday, 27 January 1967 in Isla Vista/Goleta, California, where Brautigan participated in a poetry reading at the Unicorn Book Shop. Morgan visited Brautigan in San Francisco several times and during one visit Brautigan wrote and dedicated the poem "Albion Breakfast" for Morgan. He typed, signed, and dated (24 March 1967) a copy for Morgan.

Although "albion" was often used as poetic reference to England, especially by the English Romantic poets, Morgan recalled a different genesis for this poem.

Feedback from Susan Morgan

On one of my visits to Richard at his apartment on Geary Street [probably late January], where he lived without a refrigerator, he wrote Albion Breakfast. The day before, we had been walking through the City and I had found, in the gutter, a pile of sales catalogs for high-end bathroom fixtures. I took one of the folders from the pile because it was so elegant. It said Albion on a solid black folder. I asked Richard if he would write me a poem to put in it. The next morning while I went to the grocery store to buy something to eat for breakfast he wrote the poem.
— Althea Susan Morgan. Email to John F. Barber, 4 December 2005.

Morgan lived in Santa Barbara, California, where Brautigan visited her and wrote another poem, "The Sitting Here, Standing Here Poem," for her.

Morgan and Brautigan exchanged letters about this poem and other topics.

Erik Weber photographed Brautigan and Morgan in Brautigan's Geary Street apartment in March 1967. LEARN more


There are comets
that flash through
our mouths wearing
the grace
of oceans and galaxies.

     God knows,
     we try to do the best
     we can.

There are comets
connected to chemicals
that telescope
down out tongues
to burn out against
the air.

     I know
     we do.

There are comets
that laugh at us
from behind our teeth
wearing the clothes
of fish and birds.

     We try.

First Published
Hollow Orange 4 1967, n. pg.
Published at 642 Shrader Street, San Francisco, California, by Cranium Press. Edited by Clifford Burke
String tied wrappers
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Aura Literary/Arts Review. Thunder City Press, 1977(?).
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more.


I am desolate in dimension
circling the sky
          like a rainy bird,

wet from toe to crown
wet from bill to wing.

I feel like a drowned king
at the pomegranate circus.

I vowed last year
that I wouldn't go again
but here I sit in my usual seat,
     dripping and clapping

as the pomegranates go by
in their metallic costumes.

December 25, 1966

Selected Reprints
A First Reader of Contemporary American Poetry. Edited by Patrick Gleason. Merrill, 1969, pp. 23-26.
Learn more

Aura Literary/Arts Review. Thunder City Press, 1977(?).
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more.


Yup.
A long lazy September look
in the mirror
says it's true:

I'm 31
and my nose is growing
     old.

It starts about
     an inch
below the bridge
and strolls geriatrically
     down
for another inch or so:
     stopping.

Fortunately, the rest
of the nose is comparatively

First Published
O'er, no. 2, Dec. 1966, pp. 107-109.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed sheets of different colored construction paper. 128 pages. Staple binding
Published in San Francisco, California, by Cranium Press.
Edited by David Sandberg.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Totem, March 1966. Pasadena, CA
Learn more.


I don't care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I'm bored.

It's been raining like hell all day long
and there's nothing to do.

               Written January 24, 1967 while poet-in-residence
               at the California Institute of Technology

Background
Written during Brautigan's poet-in-residency at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, California, 17-26 January 1967. Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Sunday, 15 January 1967 in order to spend the following ten days at Cal Tech. Rain fell throughout the day, Tuesday, 24 January, and Brautigan recorded his boredom in this poem. He shared the poem with Cal Tech students during Le Grand Farewell Appearance, the following day, Wednesday, 25 January, 11:00 A.M. in the Winnett Lounge.

First Published
Totem, May 1967. Pasadena, CA
LEARN more

Selected Reprints
Four Poems. Synaesthesia Press: Tempe, Arizona, 2000.
Learn more.

San Francisco Express Times, vol. 1, no. 49, December 24, 1968, pp. 8-9.
Learn more

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
     one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
     of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
     somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
     at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."


1. Get enough food to eat,
    and eat it.

2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
    and sleep there.

3. Reduce intellectual activity and emotional noise
    until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
    and listen to it.

4.

First Published
The Communication Company, April 1967.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed broadside. Imprint: The Communication Company
Learn more

Selected Reprints
"Three Poems." London Magazine, Nov. 1970, p. 65.
Learn more


I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
     (right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
     (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

First Published
The Communication Company, 1967.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed broadside with hand-lettered title and imprint (Communication Company). All else type-written.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
TriQuarterly no. 11, (Winter) 1968, p. 194.
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The Digger Papers. August 1968, p. 11.
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The Realist, no. 81. August 1968, p. 11.
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Sun, vol. 9, no. 7 August 1968.
Learn more

San Francisco Express Times, vol. 1, no. 49, Dec. 24, 1968, pp. 8-9.
Learn more

The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more

The Ways of the Poem. Edited by Josephine Miles. Prentice Hall, 1972, pp. 376-377.
LEARN more.

Shannon, L. R. "The Promise, the Reality and the Hope." New York Times, 8 December 1987, p. 27.
Learn more

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.

Connections
Gangeware, Robert J., editor. "All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace." The Exploited Eden: Literature on the American Environment. Harper and Row, 1972, p. 376.
Included the following introduction, "American poets seldom portray the happy marriage of technology and the natural world. Thus the optimism of the following poem is somewhat unique—unless the reader detects irony, in which case the poem joins the mainstream of antitechnological American verse."

New York State Regents Exams Comprehensive English Test
Wednesday, 19 June 2002, 9:15—12:15 AM.
Brautigan's poem, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, was included in this exam.
Learn more

Charles Perry, commenting on the debate over technology, says, "The "robots will do all the work" vision of utopia was certainly widesread, the subject for instance of Richard Brautigan's famous poem, 'All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace' and one of the recurring ideas in the Leary-Snyder debate in Oracle No. 7."
The Haight-Ashbury. A History. Rolling Stone Press, 1984, p. 261.


I had a good-talking candle
last night in my bedroom.

I was very tired but I wanted
somebody to be with me,
     so I lit a candle

and listened to its comfortable
voice of light until I was asleep.

Recorded
"Listening to Richard Brautigan." Harvest Records.
On one track of this album, titled "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," Brautigan reads sixteen poems collected in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, including this one.
LISTEN to Brautigan read these poems.


It's night

and a numbered beauty
lapses at the wind,

chortles with the
branches of a tree,

     giggles,

plays shadow dance
with a dead kite,

cajoles affection
from falling leaves,

and knows four
other things.

One is the color
of your hair.

First Published
Hollow Orange, no. 4, 1967, n. pg.
Published at 642 Shrader Street, San Francisco, California, by Cranium Press
Edited by Clifford Burke
String tied wrappers
Learn more

Selected Reprints
The Thunder City Press Broadside Series, No. 5 Richard Brautigan 8 Poems. Thunder City Press, February 1976.
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more


Her face grips at her mouth
like a leaf to a tree
or a tire to a highway
or a spoon to a bowl of soup.

She just can't let go
     with a smile,
     the poor dear.

No matter what happens
her face is always a maple tree
     Highway 101
     tomato.

Textual References
"Highway 101": Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs along the coast from Seattle, Washington, to Los Angeles, Californina.


There are doors
that want to be free
from their hinges to
fly with perfect clouds.

There are windows
that want to be
released from their
frames to run with
the deer through
back country meadows.

There are walls
that want to prowl
with the mountains
through the early
morning dusk.

There are floors
that want to digest
their furniture into
flowers and trees.

There are roofs
that want to travel
gracefully with
the stars through
circles of darkness.

Selected Reprints
Aura Literary/Arts Review. Thunder City Press, 1977(?).
11" x 17" broadside.
Learn more.

Dugdale, Anthony. "Romantic Renegades." Architectural Design, vol. 48, no. 7, 1978, pp. 444-46.
Learn more.

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