Brautigan > Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork

This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information and resources about Richard Brautigan's poetry collection Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Published in 1976, this collection of ninety-four poems was Brautigan's ninth published poetry book. Publication and background information is provided, along with reviews, many with full text. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.

Publication

Publication information regarding Richard Brautigan's poetry collection Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.

First USA Edition

1976
New York: Simon and Schuster
5.75" x 8.25"; 127 pages; ISBN 0-671-22263-5
Hard Cover, grey cloth covered board, with dust jacket

Covers

Front dust jacket photograph by Erik Weber of Brautigan
Back dust jacket features smaller version of same photograph
Design by Robert Anthony

Proof Copy

Advance uncorrected proofs in yellow printed wrappers.

Close

Background

First published 1976, Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, a collection of ninety-four poems, was Brautigan's seventh collection of poetry; his ninth published poetry book. This collection was unique in that the poems were grouped in eight titled sections and featured the crow as a dominant figure throughout.

Dedication

For Jim Harrison and Guy de la Valdene
"Friendship"

Both Jim Harrison and Guy de la Valdene were part of a group of writers, artists, and actors living near Brautigan's ranch in Pine Creek, Montana, just south of Livingston in Paradise Valley. Members included writers Thomas McGuane (92 in the Shade), Jim Harrison (Farmer) and his wife Marge, and William R. Hjortsberg (Falling Angel) and his wife Marian. Actors Peter Fonda and his wife Becky (Rebecca Crockett; McGuane's ex-wife), Jeff Bridges, and Warren Oates, film director Sam Peckinpah, cinematographer Michael Butler, and painter Russell Chatham also lived nearby. Other writers (like Guy de la Valdene), artists, and musicians often visited. The group called itself "The Montana Gang." Brautigan was impressed with the machismo and the ability of some members to achieve financial security by turning their novels into movies.

Close

Contents

Unless noted, the ninety-four poems in this collection were first published in this volume in the order listed below. The poems were grouped in eight titled sections and featured the crow as a dominant figure throughout.

CROWS AND MERCURY

Postcard

I wonder if eighty-four-year-old Colonel Sanders
ever gets tired of travelling all around America
     talking about fried chicken.

Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork

Loading mercury with a pitchfork
your truck is almost full. The neighbors
take a certain pride in you. They
     stand around watching.

First Published
The World, no. 21, Jan. 1971, n. pg.
Published in New York, New York. Edited by Anne Waldman. Magazine of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church In-the-Bowery.
8.5" x 14" mimeographed sheets.
Featured four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam Driven Tennis Courts," and "It's Time To Train Yourself."

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Marks Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971, p. 345.
Included four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "It's Time To Train Yourself," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," and "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam-Driven Tennis Courts."

It's Time To Train Yourself

It's time to train yourself
to sleep alone again
and it's so fucking hard.

First Published
The World, no. 21, Jan. 1971, n. pg.
Published in New York, New York. Edited by Anne Waldman. Magazine of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church In-the-Bowery.
8.5" x 14" mimeographed sheets.
Featured four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam Driven Tennis Courts," and "It's Time To Train Yourself."

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Marks Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971, p. 345.
Included four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "It's Time To Train Yourself," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," and "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam-Driven Tennis Courts."

The Act of: Death-Defying Affection

The act of: death-defying affection
insures the constancy of the stars
and their place at the beginning of
     everything.

Two Guys Get Out of a Car

Two guys get out of a car.
They stand beside it. They
don't know what else to do.

First Published
The World, no. 21, Jan. 1971, n. pg.
Published in New York, New York. Edited by Anne Waldman. Magazine of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church In-the-Bowery.
8.5" x 14" mimeographed sheets.
Featured four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam Driven Tennis Courts," and "It's Time To Train Yourself."

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Marks Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971, p. 345.
Included four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "It's Time To Train Yourself," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," and "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam-Driven Tennis Courts."

Punitive Ghosts Like Steam-Driven Tennis Courts

Punitive ghosts like steam-driven tennis courts
haunt the apples in my nonexistent orchard.
I remember when there were just worms out there
and they danced in moonlit cores on warm September
     nights.

First Published
The World, no. 21, Jan. 1971, n. pg.
Published in New York, New York. Edited by Anne Waldman. Magazine of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church In-the-Bowery.
8.5" x 14" mimeographed sheets.
Featured four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam Driven Tennis Courts," and "It's Time To Train Yourself."

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Marks Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971. 345.
Included four poems by Brautigan: "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork," "It's Time To Train Yourself," "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," and "Punitive Ghosts Like Steam-Driven Tennis Courts."

Crow Maiden

     Starring a beautiful young girl and twenty-
three crows. She has blonde hair. The crows are
intelligent. The director is obsessed with the
budget (too low). The photographer has fallen
in love with the girl. She can't stand him. The
crows are patient. The director is a homosexual.
he girl loves him. The photographer
daydreams murder. "One hundred and seventy-
five thousand. I was a fool!" the director says
to himself. The girl has taken to crying a lot at
night. The crows wait for their big scene.

     And you will go where crows go
     and you will know what crows know.

     After you have learned all their secrets
     and think the way they do and your love
     caresses their feathers like the walls
     of a midnight clock, they will fly away
     and take you with them.

     And you will go where the crows go
     and you will know what crows know.

First Published
Harper's Oct. 1971, p. 58.

Information

Any thought that I have right now
isn't worth a shit because I'm totally
     fucked up.

Are You the Lamb of Your Own Forgiving?

I mean: Can you forgive yourself / all
     those crimes without victims?

First Published
Clear Creek, no. 3, June 1971, p. 30.

Autobiography (Polish It Like a Piece of Silver)

     I am standing in the cemetery at Byrds, Texas.
What did Judy say? "God-forsaken is beautiful, too."
A very old man, who has cancer on his face and takes
care of the cemetery, is raking a grave in such a
manner as to almost (polish it like a piece of silver.
An old dog stands beside him. It's a hot day: 105.
What am I doing out here in west Texas, standing in
a cemetery? The old man wonders about that, too.
My presence has become a part of his raking. I know
that he is also polishing me.

First Published
Esquire, Sept. 1972, p. 50.
The reference to "Byrds" is a small town in central Texas near Brownwood.
The reference to "Judy" is Judy Gordon. She and her husband, Roxy, were friends of Brautigan and he visited them in Austin, Texas, in August 1970. Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt, a collection of poetry, was dedicated to Roxy and Judy Gordon.

Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)

     When the moon shines like a dead garage
I travel with gasoline ghosts down all those haunted
miles of the past, twenty-seven Model A miles an hour
in 1939, going to where I have forgotten.

First Published
CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1975, p. 49.
Published by Point in Sausalito, California.
Featured six poems by Brautigan: "We Are In A Kitchen," "January 4 3," "A Penny Smooth As A Star," "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes," "Seconds," and "Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)." All collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Also featured work by Robert Creeley, Paul Krassner, Gurney Norman, and Anne Waldman.

Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)

The telephone rings in San Francisco,
     "This is Ultra Violet."
I don't know her except that she
is a movie actress.
She wants to talk to me.
She has a nice voice.
We talk for a while.
Then she has to go someplace.
     "Good-bye."

Textual References
"Ultra Violet": Stage name of Isabelle Collin-Dufresne, one of Andy Warhol's "superstars" and author of Famous for Fifteen Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol (1988).

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.
Included six poems by Brautigan: "Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Impasse," "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence," "We Were the Eleven O'Clock News," and "Nobody Knows What Experience Is Worth."

January 4 3

I've started off with a mistake
but I'll try to get better
and put the day in good order.

First Published
CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1975, p. 49.
Published by Point in Sausalito, California.
Featured six poems by Brautigan: "We Are In A Kitchen," "January 4 3," "A Penny Smooth As A Star," "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes," "Seconds," and "Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)." All collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Also featured work by Robert Creeley, Paul Krassner, Gurney Norman, and Anne Waldman.

They Are Really Having Fun

They are really having fun,
     drinking glasses of wine
and talking about things
     that they like.

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But

We meet. We try. Nothing happens, but
afterwards we are always embarrassed
when we see each other. We look away.

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.
Included six poems by Brautigan: "Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Impasse," "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence," "We Were the Eleven O'Clock News," and "Nobody Knows What Experience Is Worth."

Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony

Home again home again like a turtle to his balcony
     and you know where that's at.

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me

                                        (For Rilke)
You will have unreal recollections of me
like half-developed photographs
for all the days of your life, even though
you have never met me because I have dreamt
you. Soon it will be morning, the dream
over.

Textual References
"Rilke": Rainer Marie Rilke (1875-1926), German poet.

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

Finding Is Losing Something Else

Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
     what I lost to find this.

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

Impasse

I talked a good hello
but she talked an even
     better good-bye.

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt.

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.
Included six poems by Brautigan: "Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Impasse," "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence," "We Were the Eleven O'Clock News," and "Nobody Knows What Experience Is Worth."

Homage To Charles Atlas

A daydream exercises your mind
for a moment or two like an invisible
muscle. Then it's gone, totally
     forgotten.

Textual References
"Charles Atlas": American body builder and fitness instructor (1893-1972).

First Published
"A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." California Living, 16 May 1971, pp. 7-10.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.

Introduction reads, "Richard Brautigan, an Aquarian born in Tacoma, Washington, January 30, 1935, has grown from an unknown poet of the Haight Ashbury during the days of the Flower Children, to one of the country's leading writers—in less than ten years. Among his works, widely read and discussed on college campuses—as well as in the general mainstream—are (novels) Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur and (poetry) The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Featured seven poems by Brautigan: "They Are Really Having Fun," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony," "You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me," "Finding Is Losing Something Else," "Impasse," and "Homage to Charles Atlas." Photographs, including one of Brautigan, by Edmund Shea.

On Pure Sudden Days like Innocence

On pure sudden days like innocence
we behold the saints and their priorities
     keypunched in the air.

First Published
Mark In Time: Portraits & Poetry / San Francisco. Edited by Nick Harvey. Glide Publications, 1971, pp. 170-171, 173-174.
188 pages; Hardcover, with dustjacket; 9.5" x 9.5"
An overview of the San Francisco poetry scene in the early 1970s. Featured two poems by Brautigan: "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence" and "Curiously Young Like a Freshly-Dug Grave." Also featured poets Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Wieners, George Oppen, Joanne Kyger, Pete Winslow, Kenneth Rexroth, Lew Welch, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ishmael Reed, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, William Everson, Gary Snyder, Brautigan, and others. Each poet given a double-page spread with a photograph by Christa Fleishmann and biographical information.

Autobiographical note reads, "Richard Brautigan (191) was born January 30, 1935, in the Pacific Northwest. He has lived in San Francisco for many years. He is the author of Trout Fishing in America (novel); A Confederate General from Big Sur (novel); In Watermelon Sugar (novel); The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster (poetry); Please Plant This Book (poetry); All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (poetry); Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt (poetry); and The Abortion: An Historical Romance of 1966 (novel) and Revenge of the Lawn (short stories), both due in 1971."

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.
Included six poems by Brautigan: "Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Impasse," "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence," "We Were the Eleven O'Clock News," and "Nobody Knows What Experience Is Worth."

Curiously Young Like a Freshly-Dug Grave

Curiously young like a freshly-dug grave
the day parades in circles like a top
     with rain falling in its shadow.

First Published
Mark In Time: Portraits & Poetry / San Francisco. Edited by Nick Harvey. San Francisco: Glide Publications, 1971. 170-171, 173-174.
188 pages; Hardcover, with dustjacket; 9.5" x 9.5"
An overview of the San Francisco poetry scene in the early 1970s. Featured poets Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Wieners, George Oppen, Joanne Kyger, Pete Winslow, Kenneth Rexroth, Lew Welch, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ishmael Reed, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, William Everson, Gary Snyder, Brautigan, and others. Each poet given a double-page spread with a photograph by Christa Fleishmann and biographical information. Featured two poems by Brautigan: "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence" and "Curiously Young Like a Freshly-Dug Grave."

Right Beside the Morning Coffee

If I write this down now, I
will have it in the morning.
The question is: Do I want
to start the day off with
     this?

Montana Inventory

At 85 miles an hour an insect splattered
like saffron on the windshield
and a white cloud in blue sky above the
     speed-curried bug

First Published
Blue Suede Shoes, .424, 1973. p. n. pg.
Published at 1146 Sutter, Berkeley, California. Edited by Keith Abbott.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed sheets. Several issues, variously numbered. See "Background" below.

Featured three poems by Brautigan: "Montana Inventory," "Oak," and "Ben." Brautigan listed as a member of the "Board of Editors," along with John Ashbery, Andrei Codrescu, "Our Gal Flo," and Robert Creeley. Also featured work by Joyce Holland, Michael Sowl, Guillaume Appollinaire, Keith Abbott, Carlos Castaneda, Jr., Richard Snyder, Barry Alpert, Pat[rick] Nolan, and a Opal Nations-Keith Abbott collaboration.

Background
Volume 1 Numbers 1-15 (1968?- 1972?) were edited by Keith Abbott and Steve Carey. Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 published at 1007 Lake Whatcom Blvd., Bellingham, Washington 98225.
Number 5, published as a book titled , Pat Nolan in a Buick Twenty Poems by Bob Hope was devoted to poems by Pat[rick] Nolan. Published (150 copies) at 724 Lottie Street, Monterey, California 93940. Twenty five copies were signed with a poem by the author.
Number 6 (1968) published in Monterey, California.
Number 7, published as a book titled Fleur-De-Lis, was devoted to poems by Steve Carey. Published (150 copies) in Monterey, California. Twenty copies were signed with various embellishments added by the author.
Number 8 (1971), published as a book titled Thick and Thin, was devoted to prose and poetry by Keith Abbott. Published (1,000 copies) in Monterey, California. Fifty copies were signed with a poem by the author.
Number 9, titled "The American Indian Issue," was published in Monterey, California.
Number 10, published as a book titled 2X, was devoted to prose by Keith Abbott and Michael Sowl. Published (175 copies) in Monterey, California.
Number 11, published (200 copies) by Strange Faeces Press, 42a, Pembridge Road, Notting Hill Gate, London W11, England. Edited by Keith Abbott.
Number 12 (1972), published as a book titled The Best Deal I Ever Made, was devoted to prose by Keith Abbott. Published in Monterey, California.
Number 13, called the "To hell and back" issue, published in Monterey, California. Edited by Keith Abbott and Harry Heilman.
Number 14 (1972), published as a book titled Hero Pills, was devoted to 1968-1969 stories by Keith Abbott. Published in Monterey, California.
Number 15 was edited by "Keith Abbott & Rhubarb." Published in Monterey, California.
Each issue contained prose and poetry work by modern American and British writers, translations of French and Spanish writers, parodies of American poetry, found poems, and editorials. Numbers 16-18 were to be Abbott's novel Gush, A Novel Starring the Gush Family about The Unemployment Problems in California.

The Decimal Series began after Volume 1, Number 15 with Number .5 ("The Organized Religion Issue," published in Berkeley, California) and progressed backwards: Number .314159265 ("The Pi Issue," published in Berkeley, California), Number .424 (published in Berkeley, California, 1973?), Number .016 (Face, devoted to poetry by Michael-Sean Lazaaarchuk, published in Berkeley, California), Number .406 (Chocolate Winter?, devoted to poetry by Michael Sowl, published in Berkeley, California, 1974?), Number .017 (published in Berkeley, California), and Number .386 (Brain 10, devoted to poetry "by the students in Miss Gatenby's 9th grade classes in Room 10 at Emeryville High." Published at 1020 Cornell, Albany, California 94706 in 1976).

Oak

crows / the
crows / the
(the tree)

First Published
Blue Suede Shoes, .424, 1973, n. pg.
Published at 1146 Sutter, Berkeley, California. Edited by Keith Abbott.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed sheets. Several issues, variously numbered. See "Background" below.

Featured three poems by Brautigan: "Montana Inventory," "Oak," and "Ben." Brautigan listed as a member of the "Board of Editors," along with John Ashbery, Andrei Codrescu, "Our Gal Flo," and Robert Creeley. Also featured work by Joyce Holland, Michael Sowl, Guillaume Appollinaire, Keith Abbott, Carlos Castaneda, Jr., Richard Snyder, Barry Alpert, Pat[rick] Nolan, and a Opal Nations-Keith Abbott collaboration.

Background
Volume 1 Numbers 1-15 (1968?- 1972?) were edited by Keith Abbott and Steve Carey. Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 published at 1007 Lake Whatcom Blvd., Bellingham, Washington 98225.
Number 5, published as a book titled , Pat Nolan in a Buick Twenty Poems by Bob Hope was devoted to poems by Pat[rick] Nolan. Published (150 copies) at 724 Lottie Street, Monterey, California 93940. Twenty five copies were signed with a poem by the author.
Number 6 (1968) published in Monterey, California.
Number 7, published as a book titled Fleur-De-Lis, was devoted to poems by Steve Carey. Published (150 copies) in Monterey, California. Twenty copies were signed with various embellishments added by the author.
Number 8 (1971), published as a book titled Thick and Thin, was devoted to prose and poetry by Keith Abbott. Published (1,000 copies) in Monterey, California. Fifty copies were signed with a poem by the author.
Number 9, titled "The American Indian Issue," was published in Monterey, California.
Number 10, published as a book titled 2X, was devoted to prose by Keith Abbott and Michael Sowl. Published (175 copies) in Monterey, California.
Number 11, published (200 copies) by Strange Faeces Press, 42a, Pembridge Road, Notting Hill Gate, London W11, England. Edited by Keith Abbott.
Number 12 (1972), published as a book titled The Best Deal I Ever Made, was devoted to prose by Keith Abbott. Published in Monterey, California.
Number 13, called the "To hell and back" issue, published in Monterey, California. Edited by Keith Abbott and Harry Heilman.
Number 14 (1972), published as a book titled Hero Pills, was devoted to 1968-1969 stories by Keith Abbott. Published in Monterey, California.
Number 15 was edited by "Keith Abbott & Rhubarb." Published in Monterey, California.
Each issue contained prose and poetry work by modern American and British writers, translations of French and Spanish writers, parodies of American poetry, found poems, and editorials. Numbers 16-18 were to be Abbott's novel Gush, A Novel Starring the Gush Family about The Unemployment Problems in California.

The Decimal Series began after Volume 1, Number 15 with Number .5 ("The Organized Religion Issue," published in Berkeley, California) and progressed backwards: Number .314159265 ("The Pi Issue," published in Berkeley, California), Number .424 (published in Berkeley, California, 1973?), Number .016 (Face, devoted to poetry by Michael-Sean Lazaaarchuk, published in Berkeley, California), Number .406 (Chocolate Winter?, devoted to poetry by Michael Sowl, published in Berkeley, California, 1974?), Number .017 (published in Berkeley, California), and Number .386 (Brain 10, devoted to poetry "by the students in Miss Gatenby's 9th grade classes in Room 10 at Emeryville High." Published at 1020 Cornell, Albany, California 94706 in 1976).

Ben

I telephone Oklahoma this evening. The telephone
rings eight or nine times but nobody's home. Ben's
not in his trailer parked in a field just outside
     of Oklahoma City.

Textual References
"Ben": Ben Wright, friend of Brautigan who lived in Oklahoma.

First Published
Blue Suede Shoes, .424, 1973, n. pg.
Published at 1146 Sutter, Berkeley, California. Edited by Keith Abbott.
8.5" x 11" mimeographed sheets. Several issues, variously numbered. See "Background" below.

Featured three poems by Brautigan: "Montana Inventory," "Oak," and "Ben." Brautigan listed as a member of the "Board of Editors," along with John Ashbery, Andrei Codrescu, "Our Gal Flo," and Robert Creeley. Also featured work by Joyce Holland, Michael Sowl, Guillaume Appollinaire, Keith Abbott, Carlos Castaneda, Jr., Richard Snyder, Barry Alpert, Pat[rick] Nolan, and a Opal Nations-Keith Abbott collaboration.

Background
Volume 1 Numbers 1-15 (1968?- 1972?) were edited by Keith Abbott and Steve Carey. Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 published at 1007 Lake Whatcom Blvd., Bellingham, Washington 98225.
Number 5, published as a book titled , Pat Nolan in a Buick Twenty Poems by Bob Hope was devoted to poems by Pat[rick] Nolan. Published (150 copies) at 724 Lottie Street, Monterey, California 93940. Twenty five copies were signed with a poem by the author.
Number 6 (1968) published in Monterey, California.
Number 7, published as a book titled Fleur-De-Lis, was devoted to poems by Steve Carey. Published (150 copies) in Monterey, California. Twenty copies were signed with various embellishments added by the author.
Number 8 (1971), published as a book titled Thick and Thin, was devoted to prose and poetry by Keith Abbott. Published (1,000 copies) in Monterey, California. Fifty copies were signed with a poem by the author.
Number 9, titled "The American Indian Issue," was published in Monterey, California.
Number 10, published as a book titled 2X, was devoted to prose by Keith Abbott and Michael Sowl. Published (175 copies) in Monterey, California.
Number 11, published (200 copies) by Strange Faeces Press, 42a, Pembridge Road, Notting Hill Gate, London W11, England. Edited by Keith Abbott.
Number 12 (1972), published as a book titled The Best Deal I Ever Made, was devoted to prose by Keith Abbott. Published in Monterey, California.
Number 13, called the "To hell and back" issue, published in Monterey, California. Edited by Keith Abbott and Harry Heilman.
Number 14 (1972), published as a book titled Hero Pills, was devoted to 1968-1969 stories by Keith Abbott. Published in Monterey, California.
Number 15 was edited by "Keith Abbott & Rhubarb." Published in Monterey, California.
Each issue contained prose and poetry work by modern American and British writers, translations of French and Spanish writers, parodies of American poetry, found poems, and editorials. Numbers 16-18 were to be Abbott's novel Gush, A Novel Starring the Gush Family about The Unemployment Problems in California.

The Decimal Series began after Volume 1, Number 15 with Number .5 ("The Organized Religion Issue," published in Berkeley, California) and progressed backwards: Number .314159265 ("The Pi Issue," published in Berkeley, California), Number .424 (published in Berkeley, California, 1973?), Number .016 (Face, devoted to poetry by Michael-Sean Lazaaarchuk, published in Berkeley, California), Number .406 (Chocolate Winter?, devoted to poetry by Michael Sowl, published in Berkeley, California, 1974?), Number .017 (published in Berkeley, California), and Number .386 (Brain 10, devoted to poetry "by the students in Miss Gatenby's 9th grade classes in Room 10 at Emeryville High." Published at 1020 Cornell, Albany, California 94706 in 1976).

The Necessity of Appearing in Your Own Face

There are days when that is the last place
in the world where you want to be but you
have to be there, like a movie, because it
     features you.

For Fear You Will Be Alone

For fear you will be alone
you do so many things
that aren't you at all.

First Published
California Living, 18 Nov. 1973, p. 16.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. Three line poem illustrated with photograph by Edmund Shea.

War Horse

He stands alone in a pasture
but nobody can see him.

He has been made invisible
by his own wounds.

I know how he feels.

Albert Einstein (or Upon First Reading that Light Is Projecting Itself at 3372,000 Miles per Second from Crab Nebula 5,000 Old-Fashioned Light Years Away)

     We all lose a few.

'Good Work,' He Said, and

"Good work," he said, and
went out the door. What
work? We never saw him
before. There was no door.

LOVE

September 3
(The Dr. William Carlos Williams Mistake)

I had severe insomnia last night with
the past, the present and the future detailing
     themselves
like: Oh, the shit we run through our minds!
Then I remembered that it was Dr. William Carlos
Williams' birthday and that made me feel better
     until almost dawn.
          Note:
          September 3 is not
          Dr. William Carlos Williams'
          birthday. It is the birthday
          of a girlfriend.
          Dr. William Carlos Williams
          was born on September 17, 1883.
          Interesting mistake.

Textual References
"William Carlos Williams": American poet and medical doctor (1883-1963) and an early inspiration for Brautigan's writing.

Lighthouse

Signalling, we touch,
lying beside each other
     like waves.
I roll over into her
and look down through
candlelight to say,
"Hey, I'm balling you."

Everything Includes Us

The thought of her hands
     touching his hair
makes me want to vomit.

What Happened?

You were the prettiest girl
in your high school graduating class
in 1927.

Now you have short blue hair
and nobody loves you,
not even your own children.

They don't like to have you around
because you make them nervous.

I'll Affect You Slowly

I'll affect you slowly
as if you were having
a picnic in a dream.
There will be no ants.
     It won't rain.

Umbrellaing Herself Like A Poorly-Designed Angel

Umbrallaing herself like a poorly-designed angel
she falls in love again: destined to a broken heart
which is the way it always is for her. I'm glad
     she's not falling in love with me.

Here Is Something Beautiful (etc.

Here is something beautiful (etc.
I have so little left that you
     would want.
Its color begins in your hand.
Its shape is your touch.

As Mechanical As A Flight of Stairs

As mechanical as a flight of stairs,
as solemn as a flight of stairs,
they have found each other after years
     of looking.

We Were the Eleven O'Clock News

We were the eleven o'clock news
because while the rest of the world
was going to hell we made love.

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.
Included six poems by Brautigan: "Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Impasse," "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence," "We Were the Eleven O'Clock News," and "Nobody Knows What Experience Is Worth."

At The Guess of A Simple Hello

At the guess of a simple hello
     it can all begin
toward crying yourself to sleep,
wondering where the fuck
     she is.

Sexual Accident

The sexual accident
that turned out to be your wife,
the mother of your children
and the end of your life, is home
cooking dinner for all your friends.

Business

When he died he left his wife
three gas stations and a warehouse.
He left his mistress two supermarkets.

Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes

Fuck me like fried potatoes
on the most beautifully hungry
morning of my God-damn life.

First Published
CoEvolution Quarterly Winter 1975, p. 49.
Published by Point in Sausalito, California.
Featured six poems by Brautigan: "We Are In A Kitchen," "January 4 3," "A Penny Smooth As A Star," "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes," "Seconds," and "Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)." All collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Also featured work by Robert Creeley, Paul Krassner, Gurney Norman, and Anne Waldman.

Flowers For A Crow

You have your friends.
     I have mine.

SECTION 3

Have You Ever Been There?

I can tell by your eyes that I
have asked the wrong question.
They look troubled and away. We'll
     change the subject.

Attila at The Gates of The Telephone Company

They said that
my telephone
would be fixed
     by 6.
They guaranteed
     it.

Textual References
"Atilla": King of the Huns who ravaged Europe in the fifth century.

The Amelia Earhart Pancake

I have been unable to find a poem
for this title. I've spent years
looking for one and now I'm giving
     up.
                    November 3, 1970

Textual References
"Amelia Earhart": American aviator (1897-1937).

I Don't Want To Know about It

I don't want to know about it.
Tell it to somebody else.
They'll understand and make you
     feel better.

March 18, Resting in The Maytag Homage

Looking out a hotel window
it's snowing in New York with
great huge snowflakes like millions
of transparent washing machines swirling
through the dirty air of this city, washing
     it.

We Are In A Kitchen

We are in a kitchen
in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Some bacon is frying.
It smells like a character
that you like in a good movie.
A beautiful girl is watching
     the bacon.

First Published
CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1975, p. 49.
Published by Point in Sausalito, California.
Featured six poems by Brautigan: "We Are In A Kitchen," "January 4 3," "A Penny Smooth As A Star," "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes," "Seconds," and "Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)." All collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Also featured work by Robert Creeley, Paul Krassner, Gurney Norman, and Anne Waldman.

The Last Surprise

The last surprise is when you come
gradually to realize that nothing
     surprises you any more.

Toward The Pleasures of A Reconstituted Crow

Toward the pleasures of a reconstituted crow
I collect darkness within myself like the shadow
     of a blind lighthouse.

First Published
Five Poems. Berkeley, California: Serendipity Books, 1971.
Broadside (printed in black with red border on 17" x 11" beige paper) for the International Antiquarian Book Fair, held in New York City, Spring 1971.
Featured five poems by Brautigan: "A Legend of Horses," "Toward the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow," "A Moth in Tucson, Arizona," "Death Like a Needle," and "Heroine of the Time Machine." All save "A Legend of Horses" collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.

Selected Reprints
A Legend of Horses Poems and Stories
No stated publisher, but possibly Pacific Red Car Press
No printing, place, or date information
5" x 9"; Printed wrappers; Stapled binding

Reprinted ten Brautigan poems
"A Legend of Horses"
"A Moth in Tucson, Arizona"
"Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door"
"Heroine of the Time Machine"
"The Buses"
"Period Piece"
"Psalm"
"Towards the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow"
"The Memoirs of Jesse James"
"Love's Not The Way to Treat a Friend"
and the story "What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees."

A Moth in Tucson, Arizona

A friend calls me on the telephone
from Tucson, Arizona. He's unhappy.
He wants to talk to somebody
     in San Francisco.
We talk for a while. He mentions
there's a moth in the room.
     "It's solemn," he says.

First Published
Five Poems. Serendipity Books, 1971.
Broadside (printed in black with red border on 17" x 11" beige paper) for the International Antiquarian Book Fair, held in New York City, Spring 1971. Printed in Berkeley, California.
Featured five poems by Brautigan: "A Legend of Horses," "Toward the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow," "A Moth in Tucson, Arizona," "Death Like a Needle," and "Heroine of the Time Machine." All save "A Legend of Horses" collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.

Selected Reprints
A Legend of Horses Poems and Stories
No stated publisher, but possibly Pacific Red Car Press
No printing, place, or date information
5" x 9"; Printed wrappers; Stapled binding

Reprinted ten Brautigan poems
"A Legend of Horses"
"A Moth in Tucson, Arizona"
"Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door"
"Heroine of the Time Machine"
"The Buses"
"Period Piece"
"Psalm"
"Towards the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow"
"The Memoirs of Jesse James"
"Love's Not The Way to Treat a Friend"
and the story "What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees."

Death Like A Needle

Death like a needle
made from a drunken clown's breath
sews the shadow of a (I can't make
the next two words out. I first
wrote this poem in longhand) to your
     shadow.

First Published
Five Poems. Serendipity Books, 1971.
Broadside (printed in black with red border on 17" x 11" beige paper) for the International Antiquarian Book Fair, held in New York City, Spring 1971. Printed in Berkeley, California.
Featured five poems by Brautigan: "A Legend of Horses," "Toward the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow," "A Moth in Tucson, Arizona," "Death Like a Needle," and "Heroine of the Time Machine." All save "A Legend of Horses" collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.

Heroine of the Time Machine

When she was fifteen if you'd told her
that when she was twenty she'd be going
to bed with bald-headed men and liking it,
she would have thought you very abstract.

First Published
Five Poems. Serendipity Books, 1971.
Broadside (printed in black with red border on 17" x 11" beige paper) for the International Antiquarian Book Fair, held in New York City, Spring 1971. Printed in Berkeley, California.
Featured five poems by Brautigan: "A Legend of Horses," "Toward the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow," "A Moth in Tucson, Arizona," "Death Like a Needle," and "Heroine of the Time Machine." All save "A Legend of Horses" collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.

Selected Reprints
A Legend of Horses Poems and Stories
No stated publisher, but possibly Pacific Red Car Press
No printing, place, or date information
5" x 9"; Printed wrappers; Stapled binding

Reprinted ten Brautigan poems
"A Legend of Horses"
"A Moth in Tucson, Arizona"
"Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door"
"Heroine of the Time Machine"
"The Buses"
"Period Piece"
"Psalm"
"Towards the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow"
"The Memoirs of Jesse James"
"Love's Not The Way to Treat a Friend"
and the story "What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees."

It Takes A Secret to Know A 'Secret'

It takes a secret to know a "secret."
Then you have two secrets that know
     each other. Just
what you always wanted, they stand
there looking at each other with their
     pajamas on.

Voluntary Quicksand

I read the Chronicle this morning
as if I were stepping into voluntary
quicksand
and watched the news go over my shoes
with forty-four more days of spring.
                              Kent State
                              America
                              May 7, 1970

Textual References
"Chronicle": The San Francisco Chronicle, daily newspaper.
"Kent State": Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio, where, on 7 May 1970, National Guardsmen shot to death four students protesting the United States bombings of Cambodia.

GROUP PORTRAIT WITHOUT THE LIONS

     available light

Maxine

     Part 1
No party is
complete
without you.

Everybody
knows that.

The party
starts when
you arrive.

Robot

     Part 2
Robot likes to sleep
through long lazy summer afternoons.
So do his friends
with the sun reflecting
off them like tin cans.

Fred Bought a Pair of Ice Skates

     Part 3
Fred bought a pair of ice skates.
That was twenty years ago.
He still has them but he doesn't
     skate any more.

Calvin Listens to Starfish

     Part 4
Calvin listens to starfish.
He listens to them very carefully,
lying in the tide pools,
     soaking wet
     with his clothes on,
but is he really listening to them?

Liz Looks at Herself in the Mirror

     Part 5
She's very depressed.
Nothing went right today,
so she doesn't believe that
     she's there.

Doris

     Part 6
This morning there
was a knock at the
door. You answered it.
The mailman was standing
there. He slapped your
     face.

Ginger

     Part 7
She's glad
that Bill
likes her.

Vicky Sleeps with Dead People

     Part 8
Vicky sleeps out in the woods
with dead people but she always
combs her hair in the morning.
Her parents don't understand her.
And she doesn't understand them.
They try. She tries. The dead
people try. They will all work
     it out someday.

Betty Makes Wonderful Waffles

     Part 9
Everybody agrees to
     that.

Claudia/1923-1970

     Part 10
Her mother still living
     is 65.

Her grandmother still living
     is 86.

"People in my family
live for a long time!"
          —Claudia always used to say,
          laughing.

What a surprise
she had.

Walter

     Part 11
Every night: just before he falls asleep
Walter coughs. Having never slept
in a room with another person, he thinks
that everybody coughs just before they fall
     asleep. That's his world.

Morgan

     Part 12
Morgan finished second in his high school
presidential election in 1931.
He never recovered from it.
After that he wasn't interested in people
any more. They couldn't be counted on.
He has been working as a night watchman
at the same factory for over thirty years now.
At midnight he walks among the silent equipment.
He pretends they are his friends and they like
him very much. They would have voted
     for him.

Molly

     Part 13
Molly is afraid to go into the attic.
She's afraid if she went up there
and saw the box of clothes that she
used to wear twenty years ago,
     she would start crying.

"Ah, Great Expectations!"

     Part 14
Sam likes to say, "Ah, great expectations!"
at least three or four times in every
conversation. He is twelve years old.
Nobody knows what he is talking about when
he says it. Sometimes it makes people
     feel uncomfortable.

GOOD LUCK, CAPTAIN MARTIN

Good Luck, Captain Martin

     Part 1
We all waved as his boat
sailed away. The old people
cried. The children were
     restless.

First Published
"Richard Brautigan." Mademoiselle, Nov. 1974, pp. 192-193.

People Are Constantly Making Entrances

     Part 2
People are constantly making entrances
into entrances by entering themselves
through houses, bowling alleys and planetariums,
restaurants, movie theaters, offices, factories,
mountains and Laundromats, etc., entrances
into entrances, etc., accompanied by themselves.

Captain Martin watches
the waves go by.

That's his entrance
into himself.

The Bottle

     Part 3
A child stands motionless.
He holds a bottle in his hands.
There's a ship in the bottle.
He stares at it with eyes
that do not blink.
He wonders where a tiny ship
can sail to if it is held
prisoner in a bottle.
Fifty years from now you will
find out, Captain Martin,
for the sea (large as it is)
is only another bottle.

Small Craft Warnings

     Part 4
Small craft warnings mean nothing to Captain Martin
     . . . nothing . . .
like somebody deliberately choosing not to look
out the window, so the window remains empty.

Famous People and Their Friends

     Part 5
Famous people and their friends
get to go to places where you
can only imagine what they are doing.

I was at a party two nights ago*
and a famous person was there.

When he left five or six people left
     with him.

There was a great deal of excitement
at their departure as there always is.
The room was filled with the breathing
of searchlights and chocolate ice cream
cones and private jet airplanes.

Everybody wanted to go with them
to mysterious places like film studio
palaces in Atlantis and dance halls
on the dark side of undiscovered moons
where everything happens and you are
a very important part of it
and you are there.

*Where is Captain Martin?

Carol the Waitress Remembers Still

     Part 6
Yes, that's the table where Captain Martin
sat. Yes, that one. By the window.
He would sit there alone for hours at
a time, staring out at the sea. He always
had one plain doughnut and a cup of coffee.
I don't know what he was looking at.

Put the Coffee On, Bubbles, I'm Coming Home

     Part 7
Everybody's coming home
except Captain Martin.

FIVE POEMS

1 / The Curve of Forgotten Things

Things slowly curve out of sight
until they are gone. Afterwards
     only the curve
     remains.

2 / Fresh Paint

Why is it when I walk past funeral parlors
they remind me of the smell of fresh paint
and I can feel the smell in my stomach?
     It does not feel like food.

3 / A Telescope, A Planetarium, A Firmament of Crows

It is a very dark place
     without stars,
and even when you arrive there
     twenty minutes early,
     . . . you are late.

4 / The Shadow of Seven Years' Bad Luck

A face concocted from leftovers of other faces
needs a mirror put together from pieces of
     broken mirrors.

5 / Comet Telegram

Two words:
Camelot
gone

Textual References

"Camelot": Legendary seat of King Arthur's court, later used to describe the John F. Kennedy presidency (1961-1963).

MONTANA / 1973

Night

Night again

again night
               August 23

First Published

"Some Montana Poems/1973." City Lights Anthology. Edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. City Lights Books, 1974, p. 95.
A larger format version of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Journal, where, in the first issue, Brautigan published three chapters from his then forthcoming novel Trout Fishing in America. Brautigan was part of a group of writers included who had been published by or were associated with City Lights or San Francisco: Jack Micheline, Jerry Kamstra, Charles Bukowski, Gail Chiarello, and Robert Creeley. Also included was poetry by Harold Norse; jailed Iranian poet Reza Baraheni; Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro; Isabelle Eberhardt, a young European who lived among the Muslims in North Africa; Jean Genet; a new translation of Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, writing by Black Power advocate Huey Newton, and Allen Ginsberg's record of his meeting with Ezra Pound (Barry Silesky 185-186).

Dive Bombing the Lower Emotions

I was dive-bombing the lower
emotions on a typical yesterday
     . . . after
I had sworn never to do it again.
I guess never's too long a time to stay
     out of the cockpit
with the wind screaming down the wings
and the target almost praying itself into your
sights.
               August 30

First Published
"Some Montana Poems/1973." City Lights Anthology. Edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. City Lights Books, 1974, p. 95.
A larger format version of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Journal, where, in the first issue, Brautigan published three chapters from his then forthcoming novel Trout Fishing in America. Brautigan was part of a group of writers included who had been published by or were associated with City Lights or San Francisco: Jack Micheline, Jerry Kamstra, Charles Bukowski, Gail Chiarello, and Robert Creeley. Also included was poetry by Harold Norse; jailed Iranian poet Reza Baraheni; Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro; Isabelle Eberhardt, a young European who lived among the Muslims in North Africa; Jean Genet; a new translation of Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, writing by Black Power advocate Huey Newton, and Allen Ginsberg's record of his meeting with Ezra Pound (Barry Silesky 185-186).

Nine Crows: Two Out of Sequence

1,2,3,4,5,7,6,8,9
               September 1

First Published
"Some Montana Poems/1973." City Lights Anthology. Edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. City Lights Books, 1974, p. 95.
A larger format version of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Journal, where, in the first issue, Brautigan published three chapters from his then forthcoming novel Trout Fishing in America. Brautigan was part of a group of writers included who had been published by or were associated with City Lights or San Francisco: Jack Micheline, Jerry Kamstra, Charles Bukowski, Gail Chiarello, and Robert Creeley. Also included was poetry by Harold Norse; jailed Iranian poet Reza Baraheni; Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro; Isabelle Eberhardt, a young European who lived among the Muslims in North Africa; Jean Genet; a new translation of Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, writing by Black Power advocate Huey Newton, and Allen Ginsberg's record of his meeting with Ezra Pound (Barry Silesky 185-186).

Seconds

With so short a time to live and think
about stuff, I've spent just about
the right amount of time on this
butterfly.

20
               A warm afternoon
               Pine Creek, Montana
               September 3

First Published
CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1975, p. 49.
Published by Point in Sausalito, California.
Featured six poems by Brautigan: "We Are In A Kitchen," "January 4 3," "A Penny Smooth As A Star," "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes," "Seconds," and "Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)." All collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Also featured work by Robert Creeley, Paul Krassner, Gurney Norman, and Anne Waldman.

Sorry About That

          Oh, East is East, and West is West,
          and never the twain shall meet.
          —Rudyard Kipling

waiting . . .
fresh snow in the Absarokas
(pronounced Ab-SOAR-kause)
waiting . . .
snow / beautiful / mountains
answered by warm autumn sun
down here in the valley
waiting . . .
for a rented car from Bozeman
to bring an airplane-fresh Japanese
woman to my cabin here
in Montana.
               September 3

Textual References
"Oh, East is East": From "The Ballad of East and West" by the popular English poet, Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

Nothing Is Being Taught In The Palace Today

The desks are silent as tombstones.
The chalkboard is coated with spider webs.
The erasers are ticking like bombs.
The recess bell has turned to mud,
     etc.

I think you get the picture:
Nothing is being taught in the palace today.
               September 7

Big Dipper

This is the biggest Big Dipper
     that I've ever seen.
               Pine Creek
               Montana Evening
               October 4

Early Spring Mud Puddle at an Off Angle

That's how I
feel.
               October 5

A Penny Smooth as a Star

I keep forgetting the same thing:
     over and over again.
I know it's important but I keep
     on forgetting it.
I've forgotten it so many times
that it's like a coin in my mind
     that's never been minted.
               Tom's House
               Montana
               October 13

Textual References
"Tom's House": House of writer Tom McGuane, Brautigan's friend and neighbor in Pine Creek, Montana.

First Published
CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1975, p. 49.
Published by Point in Sausalito, California.
Featured six poems by Brautigan: "We Are In A Kitchen," "January 4 3," "A Penny Smooth As A Star," "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes," "Seconds," and "Autobiography (When the Moon Shines Like a Dead Garage)." All collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Also featured work by Robert Creeley, Paul Krassner, Gurney Norman, and Anne Waldman.

The Kittens of August

The kittens of August are _s cats now and all the leaves have fallen from the two trees
by the creek that were so short a time ago shade,
and now the hunters are sighting in their rifles for:
     antelope,
          deer,
               bear,
                    elk
                         and
                              moose.
I can hear them methodically banging away at
imaginary targets that will soon be made real.
                                   October 14

P. S.

Nobody Knows What the Experience Is Worth

Nobody knows what the experience is worth
but it's better than sitting on your hands,
     I keep telling myself.

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.
Included six poems by Brautigan: "Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)," "We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But," "Impasse," "On Pure Sudden Days Like Innocence," "We Were the Eleven O'Clock News," and "Nobody Knows What Experience Is Worth."

Close

Reviews

Reviews for Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork are detailed below. See also reviews of Brautigan's collected works, and General Reviews for commentary about Brautigan's work and his place in American literature.

Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." Kirkus Reviews, 15 Mar. 1976, p. 355.
The full text of this review reads, "Brautigan-the-poet is at it again (The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt), and this fey little volume, with its modest startles, immortalized yawns, and affected yet likable artlessness, should reopen the languid debate over whether what he's writing is American haiku or surrealist Rod McKuen. Let's say a little of both. Brautigan has by now so thoroughly exercised what he calls the 'invisible muscle' of daydream that he can conjure up his trademark lines ('a penny smooth as a star') and similes ('great huge snowflakes like millions/ of transparent washing machines') with a felicity bordering the facile. His inspiration is exceedingly short-winded, and the great majority of these poems are little more than five or six lines, sometimes less; many consist of one wee brainstorm image around which a minimum of grammatical trimming droops like whilted parsley. It's enough to aggravate any 'serious' poet who struggles much harder for a far meagerer living; but for the reader Brautigan has his slight charm, his evocation of bemused mood, which occasionally shafts deeper. These poemlets range from simple, near-banal statement of familiar emotions ('For fear you will be alone/ you do so many things/ that aren't you at all') to a little gallery of disappointed and hopeful people; to the hot, empty landscapes and 'gasoline ghosts' of highway America; to the all-embracing solipsism of small sensual contentments ('A beautiful girl is watching/ the bacon'); to such darker, more original dream-visions as 'Toward the pleasures of reconstituted crow/ I collect darkness within myself like the shadow/ of a blind lighthouse.'"

Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." The Booklist, 15 May 1976, p. 1329.
The full text of this review reads, "Typical Brautigan whimsy, whether insightful or seemingly meaningless, in short poems with appeal mainly for the writer's following." See also the review by Connie Fletcher (below) which appeared in the same issue.

Anonymous. "Brautigan, Richard." Choice, Sep. 1976, p. 815.
The full text of this review reads, "Not everyone likes or even manages to respect the poetry of Richard Brautigan; and even its fans must feel the urge to withdraw their acclaim from at least certain of his pieces, if only in self-defense. For Brautigan's work is nothing if not charming, and to admit to being in charm's thrall is hardly in keeping with the temper of the times. Brautigan does not care, even if one reader's excluded poems are precisely the favorites of another, for ease of operation is his keynote and his method too. 'Finding is losing something else./ I think about, perhaps even mourn,/ what I lost to find this,' he writes—a typical poem in its entirety. If that is a poem, what about 'Impasse': 'I talked a good hello/but she talked an even/ better good-bye'? Found on facing pages, these two pieces exemplify the arguable strengths and weaknesses of Brautigan's output: the tendency to flatten into prose so familiar one cannot stifle his 'So what?', and the ripple in the affections achieved by just the same means. The best of his works are coy little presences that won't go away, cute poem-pooches, while the worst are harmless neighbors of the first. But Brautigan is all that survives of the generation of young writers to come along in the California of the 1960s, and his readership is large enough to make ordering his titles an automatic gesture by most librarians—especially, of course, those at universities."

Bokinsky, Caroline J. "Richard Brautigan." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 5: American Poets Since World War II. Edited by Donald J. Greiner. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 96-99.
Critical comments on The Return of the Rivers, The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, Lay the Marble Tea, The Octopus Frontier, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt, Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, and June 30th, June 30th. Also provides some biographical and bibliographical information. Says a new tone emerges in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. "Brautigan's terse messages and witty similes are overshadowed by a blacker humor and a darker, more pensive mood. The poems are more personal; the reader even glimpses the poet in the process of writing. . . . A poet who once saw life in pleasant, whimsical analogies is now filled with foreboding and pessimism. His sensations are no longer so acute. . . . He concludes the volume with an existential pose [convincing himself that his actions have some value]." READ this review.

Daum, Timothy. "Brautigan, Richard." Library Journal, vol. 101, no. 15, 1 September 1976, p. 1780.
The full text of this review reads, "Brautigan's poetic style, previously centered around eclectic insights into how everyday events are transformed into art, is here reduced to quick simulacra of bitter thoughts and cynical visions—his verse abounds with misplaced love, lonely nights, and jealous stabs at previous lovers. Commonplace images are mutated into uneasy jokes: 'They said that/ my telephone/ would be fixed/ by 6./ They guaranteed/ it.' Even the lighter poems, such as 'Information' or 'We meet, We try. Nothing happens, but.' are deeply trained by Brautigan's ego, and a very few express and evoke the silent delight that has marked his recent novels. Desperation is a constant theme, as in 'War Horse': 'He has been made invisible/ by his own wounds./ I know how he feels.' Where is the real Richard Brautigan: in his novels or his poems? Either way, his readers will ask for these poems, and few poetry colletions can afford to be without this work."

Reprinted
The Library Journal Book Review 1976. Edited by Janet Fletcher. R.R. Bowker Company, 1977, p. 344.

Fletcher, Connie. "Brautigan, Richard." The Booklist, 15 May 1976, p. 1317.
The full text of this review reads, "The latest volume of poetry by a controversial novelist contains his counterculture pronouncements in several long poems fragmented into terse statements. Their quality varies from insightful and charming to puerile, posed, and maddeningly meaningless. Brautigan cultists will lead the applause." See also the anonymous review (above) that appeared in this same issue.

Gannon, Edward. "Brautigan, Richard." Best Sellers, vol. 36, no. 7, Oct. 1976, p. 226-227.
Suggests Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork has little to offer if one is looking for substance. The full text of this review reads, "The print spread out on the 127 pages of poetry here would fill possibly 20 full pages. It took a little under thirty minutes to read the whole book twice. I was not detained to savor. I was not puzzled or startled. Nothing obscure exploded when I'd got to the point of it. How to describe it all? Well, I suppose it's a collection of jottings. A trifle.

"The first poem is entirely this: 'I wonder if eighty-four-year-old Colonel Sanders/ever gets tired of traveling around America/talking about fried chicken.' Exactly halfway in the volume is this: 'The Amelia Earhart Pancake: I have been unable to find a poem/for the title/ I've spent years/looking for one and now I'm giving up.' Finally, at the bitter end, 'Nobody knows what the experience is worth/but it's better than sitting on your hands,/I keep telling myself.'

I like this one: 'There are days when that is the last place/in the world where you want to be but you/have to be there, like a movie, because it/features you.' And: 'For fear you will be alone/you do many things/that aren't you at all.'

But if Simon and Schuster believes in you, there is not paper shortage, you've six novels to your credit, and another will published this summer, then why not a slim volume with your photo on the cover?

Link, Terry. "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork." Rolling Stone, June 11, 1970, p. 26.
Reviews a poetry reading given by Brautigan on 7 May 1970 at the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco, California, sponsored by the San Francisco Sate College Poetry Center. Says Brautigan stuck steadfastly to reading poetry, some from Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, in rapid succession and refused all requests to read prose, or discuss politics. During the discussion period Brautigan defined poetry as "language and spiritual mercury" and commented that the purpose of a poet is not to write good poems but rather "to work out the possibilities of language and the human condition." At the end, Brautigan invited one member of the audience up to the stage to read his own poetry. READ this review.

Locklin, Gerald. "Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork." Independent Press-Telegram [Long Beach, CA], 1 Aug. 1976, p. L6.
Says, "[T]here is much that is flat and ordinary in this book, but, when one has just about given up, there is the flash of life, of wit." READ this review.

McLellan, Joseph. "Paperbacks." Washington Post Book World, 13 June 1976, p. M4.
The full text of this review reads, "Brautigan's first collection of poems six years shows no growth, a lot of cuteness and just enough substance to keep you reading. For example: 'We meet. We try. Nothing happens, but afterwards we are always embarrassed/ when we see each other again. We look away.'"

Close
Back to Top