There he is, glower-smiling at you on the cover, standing in Washington Square Park (SF) and wearing his hat and vest, clothes that he apparently found lucky and refused to stop wearing. I’m not so sure of this trick of packaging together 3 of his works into one, but just like the other 3-pack I read, they were of varying quality. This one starts with his breakout book, Trout Fishing in America, the one that got him into all sorts of trouble by making him famous and that fame puffing up his head so he couldn’t think straight. It’s the strongest piece in this collection, followed by The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (a book of entertaining poems) and the unreadable In Watermelon Sugar.
Some of my favorite of the poems in The Pill:
Xerox Candy Bar
Ah,/ you’re just a copy/ of all the candy bars/ I’ve ever eaten
It’s so nice/ to wake up in the morning/ all alone/ and not have to tell somebody/ you love them/ when you don’t love them/ any more.
In a Cafe
I watched a man in a cafe fold a slice of bread as if he were folding a birth certificate or looking at the photograph of a dead lover.
Our Beautiful West Coast Thing
We are a coast people
There is nothing but ocean out beyond us.
— Jack Spicer
I sit here dreaming/ long thoughts of California/ at the end of a November day/ below a cloudy twilight/ near the Pacific/ listening to The Mamas and The Papas/ THEY’RE GREAT/ singing a song about breaking/ somebody’s heart and digging it!/ I think I’ll get up/ and dance around the room./ Here I go!