LOADING MERCURY WITH A PITCHFORK by Richard Brautigan

LOADING MERCURY WITH A PITCHFORK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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 wilted 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 statements 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 a reconstituted crow/ I collect darkness within myself like the shadow/ of a blind lighthouse.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1976
Publisher: Simon & Schuster