a poet worth the words...

Thinking hard about you
I got on the bus
and paid
30 cents car fare
and asked the driver for two transfers
before discovering
I was alone.

Four years ago, for my birthday, a dear friend gave me a copy of Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar and changed my life.

I'd never heard of Brautigan--a wild-haired, quixotic counterculture beat poet and writer who, despite being remarkably prolific, cloistered himself salinger-style and refused to give interviews or deliver lectures during the eight years when he produced the bulk of his poetry.

The act of dying
is like hitch-hiking
into a strange town
late at night
where it is cold
and raining,
and you are alone

In the months since I became aware of him, I have passed Brautigan's work to friends, family, and strangers--wishing every time that I could be as succinctly elegant and as simply eloquent as this man who took his own life so tragically early, the victim of personal demons and critical obscurity. If only there had been poetry like this in my high school English class--I would have found myself appreciating the art form so much more.

Does anything represent the twin despair and hope of unrequited love more than Brautigan's, Please?

Do you think of me
as often
as I think
of you?

Since discovering Brautigan, I have discovered so many cool things about him...like this: in 1968, he published a collection of poems called Please Plant This Book: eight seed packets, each containing seeds, with poems printed on the sides. What I wouldn't give to see an original edition of the collection--alas, I have a feeling I'll just have to console myself with http://www.pleaseplantthisbook.com/, a flash version of the original--typos and all (seeds not included).

Anyone with a favorite poet certainly has a favorite poem...and I would be remiss in leaving you without transcribing mine...the one I have turned to countless times...the one that remains doggeared in that life-changing gift:

Karma Repair Kit, Items 1-4

1. Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.
2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.
3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise until you
arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.


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