POPO by Rosser Reeves

POPO

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A bittersweet, nobly nostalgic, and invigorating tribute to that near-mythic figure: the eccentric garret (now read ""loft"") Poet of Greenwich Village--who appears here in the person of robustly elderly, hirsute Popo, an amalgam of all departed real-life Bohemians from Max Bodenheim to the blind Moondog. Popo, nÉ Rutherfurd Poe Pelley IV, is an F.F.V. once worth $2,000,000, a Harvard graduate, and long-ago author of published poems; but he now holds court on a bench in Washington Square Park, bumming drinks and reading his poems at The Third Eye. His ongoing works, Opi I and II, are cached in a shoe box, and he aerates the stretches between poetic efforts by conversing with the Greats of the past, demolishing the yahoos with wicked Monty-Woolley put-downs, and observing the modi vivendi and creative output of such as: bookmaker Coochie the Camel; Wall Streeter Edgar; the Pigeon Lady, who writes dear, derivative verse from a ""lovely heart""; Bruiser the Cruiser of the NYPD, who needs help with his sonnets; plus others who troop through Popo's waggish Central Casting. And throughout there are generous swags of Popo's own glittering, epigrammatic, Wonderland verse: ""Or coal black spiders sway in webs/ Beneath chill alien moons/ and finger gemlike instruments/ and strum immortal tunes."" But behind Popo's boozy, erudite, cutting persona, stalk shadows from his rejected past and a sordid urban present. . . with dire conclusions: the Pigeon Lady dies of starvation; a failed prizefighter commits suicide; and Popo himself will be fatally beaten by thugs as he is finally on the way to a publisher--and the pages of poetry fly away into the darkness. A loving, funny, wittily erudite, and discreetly sentimental scattering of stardust for Moondog and his vanished peers; primarily for those in the Village know, but irascibly amusing in any case.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1980
Publisher: Vanguard