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Occasional Poem — Richard Brautigan

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Boat

O beautiful
was the werewolf
in his evil forest.
We took him
to the carnival
and he started
when he saw
the Ferris wheel.
green and red tears
flowed down his furry cheeks.
He looked
like a boat
out on the dark

As you may have noticed, the Occasional Poem has become less than occasional — I haven’t done one in just over a year.  So good time to bring it back, and for that task we have this strange little poem from Richard Brautigan.

Which is only fitting because Brautigan was by all accounts a very interesting character (I’m debating whether to do a full post on him or save him for the inevitable year-end one — we’ll see).  There are a couple of things that could be happening in this poem.  First, he may be just wanting to make a simple comparison between something ‘dark and evil’ — i.e. a werewolf from an evil forest — with something ‘light and good’ — a carnival, and then show that the dark creature yearns for the light.  Good will prevail, that sort of thing.

But that seems too simplistic.  Another possibility could be that he was at a pier-side carnival (a Coney Island-type place), and looked out across the water to where some ships were passing by, and the running lights against the fuzzy reflections on the surface of the dark water resembled, to him, a werewolf crying green and red tears; this makes a bit more sense when you consider that Brautigan’s ‘thing’ is whacked-out similes and imagery (“He wore a costume of trout fishing in America . . . he wore mountains on this elbows and bluejays on the collar of his shirt” . . . or “there was nothing else I could do for my body was like birds sitting on a telephone wire strung out down the world, clouds tossing the wires carefully”).

So maybe a poem like this is best not to think about too deeply and merely enjoy, like cherry blossom petals that fall in your ice cream on a curious summer’s day along the high cliffs of antiquity.

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