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.

                     

Contents

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


CROWS AND MERCURY



"Postcard"
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

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.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Mark's Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971, p. 345.
Learn more



"It's Time To Train Yourself"
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.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Mark's Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971, p. 345.
Learn more



"The Act of: Death-Defying Affection"
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

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.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Mark's Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971, p. 345.
Learn more



"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.
Learn more

Selected Reprints
Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St. Mark's Poetry Project. Edited by Anne Waldman. Bobbs-Merrill, 1971. 345.
Learn more



"Crow Maiden"
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.
"Learn more



"Information"
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?"
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.
Learn more



"Autobiography (Polish It Like a Piece of Silver)"
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.
Learn more

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)"
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.
Learn more



"Autobiography (Goodbye, Ultra Violet)"
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.

Learn more



"January 4 3"
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.
Learn more



"They Are Really Having Fun"
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.
Learn more

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."



"We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But"
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. Learn more

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."

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.

Learn more



"Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony"
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.
Learn more

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."



"You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me"
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.
Learn more

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."



"Finding Is Losing Something Else"
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.
Learn more

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."



"Impasse"
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.
Learn more

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.

Selected Reprints
["Impasse and Other Poems."] San Francisco, Aug. 1977, pp. 34-35.

Learn more



"Homage To Charles Atlas"
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.
Learn more

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."



"On Pure Sudden Days like Innocence"
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.
Learn more

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.

Learn more



"Curiously Young Like a Freshly-Dug Grave"
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.
Learn more



"Right Beside the Morning Coffee"
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"
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.
Learn more



"Oak"
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.
Learn more



"Ben"
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.
Learn more



"The Necessity of Appearing in Your Own Face"
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

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. Learn more.



"War Horse"
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
372,000 Miles per Second from
Crab Nebula 5,000 Old-Fashioned
Light Years Away"
Albert Einstein (or Upon
First Reading that Light Is
Projecting Itself at
372,000 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

"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)"
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"
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"
Everything Includes Us

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



"What Happened?"
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

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"
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.

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 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

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.

Learn more



"At The Guess of A Simple Hello"
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"
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"
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

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.
Learn more



"Flowers For A Crow"
Flowers For A Crow

You have your friends.
     I have mine.


SECTION 3



"Have You Ever Been There?"
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"
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"
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

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"
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

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.
Learn more



"The Last Surprise"
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

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)
Learn more

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
Learn more



"A Moth in Tucson, Arizona"
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.
Learn more

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
Learn more



"Death Like A Needle"
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.
Learn more



"Heroine of the Time Machine"
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.
Learn more

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
Learn more



"It Takes A Secret to Know A 'Secret'"
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"
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



"Maxine"
Maxine

     Part 1
No party is
complete
without you.

Everybody
knows that.

The party
starts when
you arrive.



"Robot"
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"
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"
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"
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"
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"
Ginger

     Part 7
She's glad
that Bill
likes her.



"Vicky Sleeps with Dead People"
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"
Betty Makes Wonderful Waffles

     Part 9
Everybody agrees to
     that.



"Claudia/1923-1970"
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"
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"
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"
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!""
"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"
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.
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"People Are Constantly Making Entrances"
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"
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"
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"
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"
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"
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"
1 / The Curve of Forgotten Things

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



"2 / Fresh Paint"
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"
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"
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"
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

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.
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"Dive Bombing the Lower Emotions"
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.
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"Nine Crows: Two Out of Sequence"
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.
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"Seconds"
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.
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"Sorry About That"
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"
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"
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"
Early Spring Mud Puddle at an Off Angle

That's how I
feel.
               October 5



"A Penny Smooth as a Star"
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.
Learn more



"The Kittens of August"
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

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.

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