21+ Best Richard Brautigan Poems

Richard Gary Brautigan was an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. His work often clinically and surrealistically employs black comedy, parody, and satire, with emotionally blunt prose describing pastoral American life intertwining with technological progress.

If you’re searching for famous poems ever that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of greatest Thomas Campbell poems, best known Thomas Moore poems and most known George Herbert poems.

Famous Richard Brautigan Poems


I lift the toliet seat
as if it were the nest of a bird
and I see cat tracks
all around the edge of the bowl.

The First Winter Snow

Oh, pretty girl, you have trapped
yourself in the wrong body.Twenty
extra pounds hang like a lumpy
tapestry on your perfect mammal nature.

Three months ago you were like a
deer staring at the first winter snow.

Now Aphrodite thumbs her nose at you
and tells stories behind your back.

The Fever Monument

I walked across the park to the fever monument.
It was in the center of a glass square surrounded
by red flowers and fountains. The monument
was in the shape of a sea horse and the plaque read
We got hot and died.

To England

There are no postage stamps that send letters
back to England three centuries ago,
no postage stamps that make letters
travel back until the grave hasn’t been dug yet,
and John Donne stands looking out the window,
it is just beginning to rain this April morning,
and the birds are falling into the trees
like chess pieces into an unplayed game,
and John Donne sees the postman coming up the street,
the postman walks very carefully because his cane
is made of glass.

Milk For The Duck

unlaid / 20 days

Part 3 Of Trout Fishing In America


The man who owned the bookstore was not magic. He was not a

three-legged crow on the dandelion side of the mountain.

He was, of course, a Jew, a retired merchant seaman

who had been torpedoed in the North Atlantic and floated

there day after day until death did not want him. He had a

young wife, a heart attack, a Volkswagen and a home in

Marin County. He liked the works of George Orwell, Richard

Aldington and Edmund Wilson.

He learned about life at sixteen, first from Dostoevsky

and then from the whores of New Orleans.

The bookstore was a parking lot for used graveyards.

Thousands of graveyards were parked in rows like cars.

Most of the kooks were out of print, and no one wanted to

read them any more and the people who had read the books

had died or forgotten about them, but through the organic

process of music the books had become virgins again. They

wore their ancient copyrights like new maidenheads.

I went to the bookstore in the afternoons after I got off

work, during that terrible year of 1959.

He had a kitchen in the back of the store and he brewed

cups of thick Turkish coffee in a copper pan. I drank coffee

and read old books and waited for the year to end. He had a

small room above the kitchen.

It looked down on the bookstore and had Chinese screens

in front of it. The room contained a couch, a glass cabinet

with Chinese things in it and a table and three chairs. There

was a tiny bathroom fastened like a watch fob to the room.

I was sitting on a stool in the bookstore one afternoon

reading a book that was in the shape of a chalice. The book

had clear pages like gin, and the first page in the book read:


the Kid


November 23,



New York


The owner of the bookstore came up to me, and put his

arm on my shoulder and said, “Would you like to get laid?”

His voice was very kind.

“No, ” I said.

“You’re wrong, ” he said, and then without saying anything

else, he went out in front of the bookstore, and stopped a pair

of total strangers, a man and a woman. He talked to them for

a few moments. I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He pointed

at me in the bookstore. The woman nodded her head and

then the man nodded his head.

They came into the bookstore.

I was embarrassed. I could not leave the bookstore because

they were entering by the only door, so I decided to go

upstairs and go to the toilet. I got up abruptly and walked

to the back of the bookstore and went upstairs to the bathroom,

and they followed after me. I could hear them on the stairs.

I waited for a long time in the bathroom and they waited

an equally long time in the other room. They never spoke.

When I came out of the bathroom, the woman was lying naked

on the couch, and the man was sitting in a chair with his

hat on his lap.

“Don’t worry about him, ” the girl said. “These things

make no difference to him. He’s rich. He has 3, 859 Rolls

Royces.” The girl was very pretty and her body was like a

clear mountain river of skin and muscle flowing over rocks

of bone and hidden nerves.

“Come to me, ” she said. “And come inside me for we are

Aquarius and I love you.”

I looked at the man sitting in the chair. He was not smiling

and he did not look sad.

I took off my shoes and all my clothes. The man did not

say a word.

The girl’s body moved ever so slightly from side to side.

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.

I laid the girl.

It was like the eternal 59th second when it becomes a minute

and then looks kind of sheepish.

“Good, ” the girl said, and kissed me on the face.

The man sat there without speaking or moving or sending

out any emotion into the room. I guess he was rich and owned

3, 859 Rolls Royces.

Afterwards the girl got dressed and she and the man left.

They walked down the stairs and on their way out, I heard

him say his first words.

“Would you like to go to Emie’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know, ” the girl said. “It’s a little early to think

about dinner. “

Then I heard the door close and they were gone. I got

dressed and went downstairs. The flesh about my body felt

soft and relaxed like an experiment in functional background


The owner of the bookstore was sitting at his desk behind

the counter. “I’11 tell you what happened up there, ” he said,

in a beautiful anti-three-legged-crow voice, in an anti-dandelion

side of the mountain voice.

“What?”I said.

“You fought in the Spanish Civil War. You were a young

Communist from Cleveland, Ohio. She was a painter. A New

York Jew who was sightseeing in the Spanish Civil War as if

it were the Mardi Gras in New Orleans being acted out by

Greek statues.

“She was drawing a picture of a dead anarchist when you

met her. She asked you to stand beside the anarchist and act

as if you had killed him. You slapped her across the face

and said something that would be embarrassing for me to


You both fell very much in love.

“Once while you were at the front she read Anatomy of

Melancholy and did 349 drawings of a lemon.

“Your love for each other was mostly spiritual.Neither

one of you performed like millionaires in bed.

“When Barcelona fell, you and she flew to England, and

then took a ship back to New York. Your love for each other

remained in Spain. It was only a war love. You loved only

yourselves, loving each other in Spain during the war. On

the Atlantic you were different toward each other and became

every day more and more like people lost from each other.

“Every wave on the Atlantic was like a dead seagull dragging

its driftwood artillery from horizon to horizon.

“When the ship bumped up against America, you departed

without saying anything and never saw each other again. The

last I heard of you, you were still living in Philadelphia. “

“That’s what you think happened up there?” I said.

“Partly, ” he said. “Yes, that’s part of it. “

He took out his pipe and filled it with tobacco and lit it.

“Do you want me to tell you what else happened up there?”

he said.

“Go ahead.”

“You crossed the border into Mexico, ” he said. “You

rode your horse into a small town. The people knew who

you were and they were afraid of you. They knew you had

killed many men with that gun you wore at your side. The

town itself was so small that it didn’t have a priest.

“When the rurales saw you, they left the town. Tough as

they were, they did not want to have anything to do with you.

The rurales left.

You became the most powerful man in town.

You were seduced by a thirteen-year-old girl, and you

and she lived together in an adobe hut, and practically all

you did was make love.

“She was slender and had long dark hair. You made love

standing, sitting, lying on the dirt floor with pigs and chickens

around you. The walls, the floor and even the roof of the

hut were coated with your sperm and her come.

“You slept on the floor at night and used your sperm for

a pillow and her come for a blanket.

“The people in the town were so afraid of you that they

could do nothing.

“After a while she started going around town without any

clothes on, and the people of the town said that it was not a

good thing, and when you started going around without any

clothes, and when both of you began making love on the back

of your horse in the middle of the zocalo, the people of the

town became so afraid that they abandoned the town. It’s

been abandoned ever since. “People won’t live there.

“Neither of you lived to be twenty-one. It was not neces-


“See, I do know what happened upstairs, ” he said. He

smiled at me kindly. His eyes were like the shoelaces of a


I thought about what happened upstairs.

“You know what I say is the truth, ” he said. “For you

saw it with your own eyes and traveled it with your own body.

Finish the book you were reading before you were interrupted.

I’m glad you got laid. “

Once resumed the pages of the book began to speed up

and turn faster and faster until they were spinning like wheels

in the sea.

Part 2 Of Trout Fishing In America



And this is a very small cookbook for Trout Fishing in America

as if Trout Fishing in America were a rich gourmet and

Trout Fishing in America had Maria Callas for a girlfriend

and they ate together on a marble table with beautiful candles.

Compote of Apples

Take a dozen of golden pippins, pare them

nicely and take the core out with a small

penknife; put them into some water, and

let them be well scalded; then take a little

of the water with some sugar, and a few

apples which may be sliced into it, and

let the whole boil till it comes to a syrup;

then pour it over your pippins, and garnish

them with dried cherries and lemon-peel

cut fine. You must take care that your

pippins are not split.

And Maria Callas sang to Trout Fishing in America as

they ate their apples together.

A Standing Crust for Great Pies

Take a peck of flour and six pounds of butter

boiled in a gallon of water: skim it off into

the flour, and as little of the liquor as you

can. Work it up well into a paste, and then

pull it into pieces till it is cold. Then make

it up into what form you please.

And Trout Fishing in America smiled at Maria Callas as

they ate their pie crust together.

A Spoonful Pudding

Take a spoonful of flour, a spoonful of

cream or milk, an egg, a little nutmeg,

ginger, and salt. Mix all together, and

boil it in a little wooden dish half an hour.

If you think proper you may add a few

currants .

And Trout Fishing in America said, “The moon’s coming

out.” And Maria Callas said, “Yes, it is.”

Another Method of Making Walnut Catsup

Take green walnuts before the shell is

formed, and grind them in a crab-mill,

or pound them in a marble mortar.

Squeeze out the juice through a coarse

cloth, and put to every gallon of juice

a pound of anchovies, and the same

quantity of bay-salt, four ounces of

Jamaica pepper, two of long and two of

black pepper; of mace, cloves, and

ginger, each an ounce, and a stick of

horseradish. Boil all together till

reduced to half the quantity, and then

put it into a pot. When it is cold, bottle

it close, and in three months it will be

fit for use.

And Trout Fishing in America and Maria Callas poured

walnut catsup on their hamburgers.


Mooresville, Indiana, is the town that John Dillinger came

from, and the town has a John Dillinger Museum. You can

go in and look around.

Some towns are known as the peach capital of America or

the cherry capital or the oyster capital, and there’s always

a festival and the photograph of a pretty girl in a bathing suit.

Mooresville, Indiana, is the John Dillinger capital of America.

Recently a man moved there with his wife, and he discovered

hundreds of rats in his basement. They were huge, slowmoving

child-eyed rats.

When his wife had to visit some of her relatives for a few

days, the man went out and bought a .38 revolver and a lot

of ammunition. Then he went down to the basement where

the rats were, and he started shooting them. It didn’t bother

the rats at all. They acted as if it were a movie and started

eating their dead companions for popcorn.

The man walked over to a rat that was busy eating a friend

and placed the pistol against the rat’s head. The rat did not

move and continued eating away. When the hammer clicked

back, the rat paused between bites and looked out of the corner

of its eye. First at the pistol and then at the man. It was a kind

of friendly look as if to say, “When my mother was young she

sang like Deanna Durbin. “

The man pulled the trigger.

He had no sense of humor.

There’s always a single feature, a double feature and an

eternal feature playing at the Great Theater in Mooresville,

Indiana: the John Dillinger capital of America.

Private Eye Lettuce

Three crates of Private Eye Lettuce,
the name and drawing of a detective
with magnifying glass on the sides
of the crates of lettuce,
form a great cross in man’s imagination
and his desire to name
the objects of this world.
I think I’ll call this place Golgotha
and have some salad for dinner.

Part 10 Of Trout Fishing In America



In San Francisco around Easter time last year, they had a

trout fishing in America peace parade. They had thousands

of red stickers printed and they pasted them on their small

foreign cars, and on means of national communication like

telephone poles.


ERICA PEACE printed on them.

Then this group of college- and high-school-trained Com-

munists, along with some Communist clergymen and their

Marxist-taught children, marched to San Francisco from

Sunnyvale, a Communist nerve center about forty miles away.

It took them four days to walk to San Francisco. They

stopped overnight at various towns along the way, and slept

on the lawns of fellow travelers.

They carried with them Communist trout fishing in Ameri-

ca peace propaganda posters:




They carried with them many other trout fishing in Amer-

ica peace inducements, all following the Communist world

conquest line: the Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse.

When these young, hard-core brainwashed members of

the Communist conspiracy reached the “Panhandle, ” the

emigre Oklahoma Communist sector of San Francisco, thou-

sands of other Communists were waiting for them. These

were Communists who couldn’t walk very far. They barely

had enough strength to make it downtown.

Thousands of Communists, protected by the police, marched

down to Union Square, located in the very heart of San Fran-

cisco. The Communist City Hall riots in 1960 had presented

evidence of it, the police let hundreds of Communists escape,

but the trout fishing in America peace parade was the final

indictment: police protection.

Thousands of Communists marched right into the heart of

San Francisco, and Communist speakers incited them for

hours and the young people wanted to blow up Colt Tower, but

the Communist clergy told them to put away their plastic


“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should

do to you, do ye even so to them . . . There will be no need

for explosives, ” they said.

America needs no other proof. The Red shadow of the

Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse has fallen across Ameri-

ca, and San Francisco is its stable.

Obsolete is the mad rapist’s legendary piece of candy. At

this very moment, Communist agents are handing out Witness

for trout fishing in America peace tracts to innocent children

riding the cable cars.

Part 6 Of Trout Fishing In America


The creek was made narrow by little green trees that grew

too close together. The creek was like 12, 845 telephone

booths in a row with high Victorian ceilings and all the doors

taken off and all the backs of the booths knocked out.

Sometimes when I went fishing in there, I felt just like a

telephone repairman, even though I did not look like one. I

was only a kid covered with fishing tackle, but in some

strange way by going in there and catching a few trout, I

kept the telephones in service. I was an asset to society.

It was pleasant work, but at times it made me uneasy.

It could grow dark in there instantly when there were some

clouds in the sky and they worked their way onto the sun.

Then you almost needed candles to fish by, and foxfire in

your reflexes.

Once I was in there when it started raining. It was dark

and hot and steamy. I was of course on overtime. I had that

going in my favor. I caught seven trout in fifteen minutes.

The trout in those telephone booths were good fellows.

There were a lot of young cutthroat trout six to nine inches

long, perfect pan size for local calls. Sometimes there

were a few fellows, eleven inches or so–for the long dis-

tance calls.

I’ve always liked cutthroat trout. They put up a good fight,

running against the bottom and then broad jumping. Under

their throats they fly the orange banner of Jack the Ripper.

Also in the creek were a few stubborn rainbow trout, sel-

dom heard from, but there all the same, like certified pub-

lic accountants. I’d catch one every once in a while. They

were fat and chunky, almost as wide as they were long. I’ve

heard those trout called “squire” trout.

It used to take me about an hour to hitchhike to that creek.

There was a river nearby. The river wasn’t much. The creek

was where I punched in. Leaving my card above the clock

I’d punch out again when it was time to go home.

I remember the afternoon I caught the hunchback trout.

A farmer gave me a ride in a truck. He picked me up at

a traffic signal beside a bean field and he never said a word

to me.

His stopping and picking me up and driving me down the

road was as automatic a thing to him as closing the barn

door, nothing need be said about it, but still I was in motion

traveling thirty-five miles an hour down the road, watching

houses and groves of trees go by, watching chickens and

mailboxes enter and pass through my vision.

Then I did not see any houses for a while. “This is where

I get out, ” I said.

The farmer nodded his head. The truck stopped.

“Thanks a lot, ” I said.

The farmer did not ruin his audition for the Metropolitan

Opera by making a sound. He just nodded his head again.

The truck started up. He was the original silent old farmer.

A little while later I was punching in at the creek. I put

my card above the clock and went into that long tunnel of

telephone booths.

I waded about seventy-three telephone booths in. I caught

two trout in a little hole that was like a wagon wheel. It was

one of my favorite holes, and always good for a trout or two.

I always like to think of that hole as a kind of pencil

sharpener. I put my reflexes in and they came back out with

a good point on them. Over a period of a couple of years, I

must have caught fifty trout in that hole, though it was only

as big as a wagon wheel.

I was fishing with salmon eggs and using a size 14 single

egg hook on a pound and a quarter test tippet. The two trout

lay in my creel covered entirely by green ferns ferns made

gentle and fragile by the damp walls of telephone booths.

The next good place was forty-five telephone booths in.

The place was at the end of a run of gravel, brown and slip-

pery with algae. The run of gravel dropped off and disap-

peared at a little shelf where there were some white rocks.

One of the rocks was kind of strange. It was a flat white

rock. Off by itself from the other rocks, it reminded me

of a white cat I had seen in my childhood.

The cat had fallen or been thrown off a high wooden side-

walk that went along the side of a hill in Tacoma, Washing-

ton. The cat was lying in a parking lot below.

The fall had not appreciably helped the thickness of the

cat, and then a few people had parked their cars on the cat.

Of course, that was a long time ago and the cars looked dif-

ferent from the way they look now.

You hardly see those cars any more. They are the old

cars. They have to get off the highway because they can’t

keep up.

That flat white rock off by itself from the other rocks

reminded me of that dead cat come to lie there in the creek,

among 12, 845 telephone booths.

I threw out a salmon egg and let it drift down over that

rock and WHAM! a good hit! and I had the fish on and it ran

hard downstream, cutting at an angle and staying deep and

really coming on hard, solid and uncompromising, and then

the fish jumped and for a second I thought it was a frog. I’d

never seen a fish like that before.

God-damn ! What the hell!

The fish ran deep again and I could feel its life energy

screaming back up the line to my hand. The line felt like

sound. It was like an ambulance siren coming straight at

me, red light flashing, and then going away again and then

taking to the air and becoming an air-raid siren.

The fish jumped a few more times and it still looked like

a frog, but it didn’t have any legs. Then the fish grew tired

and sloppy, and I swung and splashed it up the surface of

the creek and into my net.

The fish was a twelve-inch rainbow trout with a huge hump

on its back. A hunchback trout. The first I’d ever seen. The

hump was probably due to an injury that occurred when the

trout was young. Maybe a horse stepped on it or a tree fell

over in a storm or its mother spawned where they were

building a bridge.

There was a fine thing about that trout. I only wish I could

have made a death mask of him. Not of his body though, but

of his energy. I don’t know if anyone would have understood

his body. I put it in my creel.

Later in the afternoon when the telephone booths began to

grow dark at the edges, I punched out of the creek and went

home. I had that hunchback trout for dinner. Wrapped in

cornmeal and fried in butter, its hump tasted sweet as the

kisses of Esmeralda.

Part 7 Of Trout Fishing In America



Tree, snow and rock beginnings, the mountain in back of the

lake promised us eternity, but the lake itself was filled with

thousands of silly minnows, swimming close to the shore

and busy putting in hours of Mack Sennett time.

The minnows were an Idaho tourist attraction. They

should have been made into a National Monument. Swimming

close to shore, like children they believed in their own im-

mortality .

A third-year student in engineering at the University of

Montana attempted to catch some of the minnows but he went

about it all wrong. So did the children who came on the

Fourth of July weekend.

The children waded out into the lake and tried to catch the

minnows with their hands. They also used milk cartons and

plastic bags. They presented the lake with hours of human

effort. Their total catch was one minnow. It jumped out of a

can full of water on their table and died under the table, gasp-

ing for watery breath while their mother fried eggs on the

Coleman stove.

The mother apologized. She was supposed to be watching

the fish –THIS IS MY EARTHLY FAILURE– holding the

dead fish by the tail, the fish taking all the bows like a young

Jewish comedian talking about Adlai Stevenson.

The third-year student in engineering at the University of

Montana took a tin can and punched an elaborate design of

holes in the can, the design running around and around in

circles, like a dog with a fire hydrant in its mouth. Then he

attached some string to the can and put a huge salmon egg

and a piece of Swiss cheese in the can. After two hours of

intimate and universal failure he went back to Missoula,


The woman who travels with me discovered the best way

to catch the minnows. She used a large pan that had in its

bottom the dregs of a distant vanilla pudding. She put the

pan in the shallow water along the shore and instantly, hun-

dreds of minnows gathered around. Then, mesmerized by

the vanilla pudding, they swam like a children’s crusade

into the pan. She caught twenty fish with one dip. She put

the pan full of fish on the shore and the baby played with

the fish for an hour.

We watched the baby to make sure she was just leaning

on them a little. We didn’t want her to kill any of them be-

cause she was too young.

Instead of making her furry sound, she adapted rapidly

to the difference between animals and fish, and was soon

making a silver sound.

She caught one of the fish with her hand and looked at it

for a while. We took the fish out of her hand and put it back

into the pan. After a while she was putting the fish back by


Then she grew tired of this. She tipped the pan over and

a dozen fish flopped out onto the shore. The children’s game

and the banker’s game, she picked up those silver things,

one at a time, and put them back in the pan. There was still

a little water in it. The fish liked this. You could tell.

When she got tired of the fish, we put them back in the

lake, and they were all quite alive, but nervous. I doubt if

they will ever want vanilla pudding again.

Part 4 Of Trout Fishing In America



This is the autopsy of Trout Fishing in America as if Trout

Fishing in America had been Lord Byron and had died in

Missolonghi, Greece, and afterward never saw the shores

of Idaho again, never saw Carrie Creek, Worsewick Hot

Springs, Paradise Creek, Salt Creek and Duck Lake again.

The Autopsy of Trout Fishing in America:

“The body was in excellent state and appeared as one that

had died suddenly of asphyxiation. The bony cranial vault

was opened and the bones of the cranium were found very

hard without any traces of the sutures like the bones of a

person 80 years, so much so that one would have said that

the cranium was formed by one solitary bone. . . . The

meninges were attached to the internal walls of the cranium

so firmly that while sawing the bone around the interior to

detach the bone from the dura the strength of two robust men

was not sufficient. . . . The cerebrum with cerebellum

weighed about six medical pounds. The kidneys were very

large but healthy and the urinary bladder was relatively

small. “

On May 2, 1824, the body of Trout Fishing in America

left Missolonghi by ship destined to arrive in England on the

evening of June 29, 1824.

Trout Fishing in America’s body was preserved in a cask

holding one hundred-eighty gallons of spirits: 0, a long way

from Idaho, a long way from Stanley Basin, Little Redfish

Lake, the Big Lost River and from Lake Josephus and the

Big Wood River.

Part 5 Of Trout Fishing In America


Worsewick Hot Springs was nothing fancy. Somebody put some

boards across the creek. That was it.

The boards dammed up the creek enough to form a huge

bathtub there, and the creek flowed over the top of the boards,

invited like a postcard to the ocean a thousand miles away.

As I said Worsewick was nothing fancy, not like the

places where the swells go. There were no buildings around.

We saw an old shoe lying by the tub.

The hot springs came down off a hill and where they flowed

there was a bright orange scum through the sagebrush. The

hot springs flowed into the creek right there at the tub and

that’ s where it was nice.

We parked our car on the dirt road and went down and took

off our clothes, then we took off the baby’s clothes, and the

deerflies had at us until we got into the water, and then they


There was a green slime growing around the edges of the

tub and there were dozens of dead fish floating in our bath.

Their bodies had been turned white by death, like frost on

iron doors. Their eyes were large and stiff.

The fish had made the mistake of going down the creek too

far and ending up in hot water, singing, “When you lose your

money, learn to lose.”

We played and relaxed in the water. The green slime and

the dead fish played and relaxed with us and flowed out over

us and entwined themselves about us.

Splashing around in that hot water with my woman, I began

to get ideas, as they say. After a while I placed my body in

such a position in the water that the baby could not see my


I did this by going deeper and deeper in the water, like a

dinosaur, and letting the green slime and dead fish cover me


My woman took the baby out of the water and gave her a

bottle and put her back in the car. The baby was tired. It was

really time for her to take a nap.

My woman took a blanket out of the car and covered up the

windows that faced the hot springs. She put the blanket ontop

of the car and then lay rocks on the blanket to hold it in place.

I remember her standing there by the car.

Then she came back to the water, and the deerflies were

at her, and then it was my turn. After a while she said, “I

don’t have my diaphragm with me and besides it wouldn’t

work in the water, anyway. I think it’s a good idea if you

don’t come inside me. What do you think?”

I thought this over and said all right. I didn’t want any

more kids for a long time. The green slime and dead fish

were all about our bodies.

I remember a dead fish floated under her neck. I waited

for it to come up on the other side, and it came up on the

other side.

Worsewick was nothing fancy.

Then I came, and just cleared her in a split secondlike

an airplane in the movies, pulling out of a nosedive and sail-

ing over the roof of a school.

My sperm came out into the water, unaccustomed to the

light, and instantly it became a misty, stringy kind of thing

and swirled out like a falling star, and I saw a dead fishcome

forward and float into my sperm, bending it in the middle.

His eyes were stiff like iron.

Part 9 Of Trout Fishing In America



Often I return to the cover of Trout Fishing in America. I

took the baby and went down there this morning. They were

watering the cover with big revolving sprinklers. I saw some

bread lying on the grass. It had been put there to feed the


The old Italians are always doing things like that. The

bread had been turned to paste by the water and was squashed

flat against the grass. Those dopey pigeons were waiting until

the water and grass had chewed up the bread for them, so

they wouldn’t have to do it themselves.

I let the baby play in the sandbox and I sat down on a bench

and looked around. There was a beatnik sitting at the other

end -of the bench. He had his sleeping bag beside him and he

was eating apple turnovers. He had a huge sack of apple turn-

overs and he was gobbling them down like a turkey. It was

probably a more valid protest than picketing missile bases.

The baby played in the sandbox. She had on a red dress

and the Catholic church was towering up behind her red dress.

There was a brick john between her dress and the church. It

was there by no accident. Ladies to the left and gents to the


A red dress, I thought. Wasn’t the woman who set John

Dillinger up for the FBI wearing a red dress? They called

her “The Woman in Red. “

It seemed to me that was right. It was a red dress, but so

far, John Dillinger was nowhere in sight. my daughter

played alone in the sandbox.

Sandbox minus John Dillinger equals what?

The beatnik went and got a drink of water from the fountain

that was crucified on the wall of the brick john, more toward

the gents than the ladies. He had to wash all those apple turn-

overs down his throat.

There were three sprinklers going in the park. There was

one in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue and one to the

side of him and one just behind him. They were all turning in

circles. I saw Benjamin Franklin standing there patiently

through the water.

The sprinkler to the side of Benjamin Franklin hit the left-

hand tree. It sprayed hard against the trunk and knocked some

leaves down from the tree, and then it hit the center tree,

sprayed hard against the trunk and more leaves fell. Then it

sprayed against Benjamin Franklin, the water shot out to the

sides of the stone and a mist drifted down off the water. Ben-

jamin Franklin got his feet wet.

The sun was shining down hard on me. The sun was bright

and hot. After a while the sun made me think of my own dis-

comfort. The only shade fell on the beatnik.

The shade came down off the Lillie Hitchcock Colt statue

of some metal fireman saving a metal broad from a mental

fire. The beatnik now lay on the bench and the shade was two

feet longer than he was.

A friend of mine has written a poem about that statue. God-

damn, I wish he would write another poem about that statue,

SO it would give me some shade two feet longer than my body.

I was right about “The Woman in Red, ” because ten min-

utes later they blasted John Dillinger down in the sandbox.

The sound of the machine-gun fire startled the pigeons and

they hurried on into the church.

My daughter was seen leaving in a huge black car shortly

after that. She couldn’t talk yet, but that didn’t make any dif-

ference. The red dress did it all.

John Dillinger’s body lay half in and half out of the sand-

box, more toward the ladies than the gents. He was leaking

blood like those capsules we used to use with oleomargarine,

in those good old days when oleo was white like lard.

The huge black car pulled out and went up the street, bat-

light shining off the top. It stopped in front of the ice-cream

parlor at Filbert and Stockton.

An agent got out and went in and bought two hundred

double-decker ice-cream cones. He needed a wheelbarrow

to get them back to the car.

Part 8 Of Trout Fishing In America



Dear Trout Fishing in America:

I met your friend Fritz in Washington Square. He told me

to tell you that his case went to a jury and that he was acquit-

ted by the jury.

He said that it was important for me to say that his case

went to a jury and that he was acquitted by the jury,

said it again.

He looked in good shape. He was sitting in the sun. There’s

an old San Francisco saying that goes: “It’s better to rest in

Washington Square than in the California Adult Authority. “

How are things in New York?


“An Ardent Admirer”

Dear Ardent Admirer:

It’s good to hear that Fritz isn’t in jail. He was very wor-

ried about it. The last time I was in San Francisco, he told

me he thought the odds were 10-1 in favor of him going away.

I told him to get a good lawyer. It appears that he followed

my advice and also was very lucky. That’s always a good


You asked about New York and New York is very hot.

I’m visiting some friends, a young burglar and his wife.

He’s unemployed and his wife is working as a cocktail wait-

ress. He’s been looking for work but I fear the worst.

It was so hot last night that I slept with a wet sheet wrapped

around myself, trying to keep cool. I felt like a mental patient.

I woke up in the middle of the night and the room was filled

with steam rising off the sheet, and there was jungle stuff,

abandoned equipment and tropical flowers, on the floor and

on the furniture.

I took the sheet into the bathroom and plopped it into the

tub and turned the cold water on it. Their dog came in and

started barking at me.

The dog barked so loud that the bathroom was soon filled

with dead people. One of them wanted to use my wet sheet

for a shroud. I said no, and we got into a big argument over

it and woke up the Puerto Ricans in the next apartment, and

they began pounding on the walls.

The dead people all left in a huff. “We know when we’re

not wanted, ” one of them said.

“You’re damn tootin’,” I said.

I’ve had enough.

I’ m going to get out of New York. Tomorrow I’m leaving for

Alaska. I’m going to find an ice-cold creek near the Arctic

where that strange beautiful moss grows and spend a week

with the grayling. My address will be, Trout Fishing in Ameri-

ca, c/o General Delivery, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Your friend,

Trout Fishing in America


We left Little Redfish for Lake Josephus, traveling along the

good names–from Stanley to Capehorn to Seafoam to the

Rapid River, up Float Creek, past the Greyhound Mine and

then to Lake Josephus, and a few days after that up the trail

to Hell-diver Lake with the baby on my shoulders and a good

limit of trout waiting in Hell-diver.

Knowing the trout would wait there like airplane tickets

for us to come, we stopped at Mushroom Springs and had a

drink of cold shadowy water and some photographs taken of

the baby and me sitting together on a log.

I hope someday we’ll have enough money to get those pic-

tures developed. Sometimes I get curious about them, won-

dering if they will turn out all right. They are in suspension

now like seeds in a package. I’ll be older when they are de-

veloped and easier to please. Look there’s the baby ! Look

there’s Mushroom Springs ! Look there’s me !

I caught the limit of trout within an hour of reaching Hell-

diver, and my woman, in all the excitement of good fishing,

let the baby fall asleep directly in the sun and when the baby

woke up, she puked and I carried her back down the trail.

My woman trailed silently behind, carrying the rods and

the fish. The baby puked a couple more times, thimblefuls

of gentle lavender vomit, but still it got on my clothes, and

her face was hot and flushed.

We stopped at Mushroom Springs. I gave her a small

drink of water, not too much, and rinsed the vomit taste out

of her mouth. Then I wiped the puke off my clothes and for

some strange reason suddenly it was a perfect time, there

at Mushroom Springs, to wonder whatever happened to the

Zoot suit.

Along with World War II and the Andrews Sisters, the

Zoot suit had been very popular in the early 40s. I guess

they were all just passing fads.

A sick baby on the trail down from Hell-diver, July 1961,

is probably a more important question. It cannot be left to

go on forever, a sick baby to take her place in the galaxy,

among the comets, bound to pass close to the earth every

173 years.

She stopped puking after Mushroom Springs, and I carried

her back down along the path in and out of the shadows and

across other nameless springs, and by the time we got down

to Lake Josephus, she was all right.

She was soon running around with a big cutthroat trout in

her hands, carrying it like a harp on her way to a concert–

ten minutes late with no bus in sight and no taxi either

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker
Part 1

Baudelaire was
driving a Model A
across Galilee.
He picked up a
hitch-hiker named
Jesus who had
been standing among
a school of fish,
feeding them
pieces of bread.
‘Where are you
going?’ asked
Jesus, getting
into the front
‘Anywhere, anywhere
out of this world!’
‘I’ll go with you
as far as
said Jesus.
‘I have a
at the carnival
there, and I
must not be

The American Hotel
Part 2

Baudelaire was sitting
in a doorway with a wino
on San Fransisco’s skid row.
The wino was a million
years old and could remember
Baudelaire and the wino
were drinking Petri Muscatel.
‘One must always be drunk,’
said Baudelaire.
‘I live in the American Hotel,’
said the wino. ‘And I can
remember dinosaurs.’
‘Be you drunken ceaselessly,’
said Baudelaire.

Part 3

Baudelaire used to come
to our house and watch
me grind coffee.
That was in 1939
and we lived in the slums
of Tacoma.
My mother would put
the coffee beans in the grinder.
I was a child
and would turn the handle,
pretending that it was
a hurdy-gurdy,
and Baudelaire would pretend
that he was a monkey,
hopping up and down
and holding out
a tin cup.

The Flowerburgers
Part 4

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Fransisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, ‘Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it.’
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, ‘What kind
of a hamburger stand
is this?’

The Hour of Eternity
Part 5

‘The Chinese
read the time
in the eyes
of cats,’
said Baudelaire
and went into
a jewelry store
on Market Street.
He came out
a few moments
later carrying
a twenty-one
jewel Siamese
cat that he
wore on the
end of a
golden chain.

Salvador Dali
Part 6

‘Are you
or aren’t you
going to eat
your soup,
you bloody odd
cloud merchant?’
Jeanne Duval
hitting Baudelaire
on the back
as he sat
out the window.
Baudelaire was
Then he laughed
like hell,
waving his spoon
in the air
like a wand
changing the room
into a painting
by Salvador
Dali, changing
the room
into a painting
by Van Gogh.

A Baseball Game
Part 7

Baudelaire went
to a baseball game
and bought a hot dog
and lit up a pipe
of opium.
The New York Yankees
were playing
the Detroit Tigers.
In the fourth inning
an angel committed
suicide by jumping
off a low cloud.
The angel landed
on second base,
causing the
whole infield
to crack like
a huge mirror.
The game was
called on
account of

Insane Asylum
Part 8

Baudelaire went
to the insane asylum
disguised as a
He stayed there
for two months
and when he left,
the insane asylum
loved him so much
that it followed
him all over
and Baudelaire
laughed when the
insane asylum
rubbed itself
up against his
leg like a
strange cat.

My Insect Funeral
Part 9

When I was a child
I had a graveyard
where I buried insects
and dead birds under
a rose tree.
I would bury the insects
in tin foil and match boxes.
I would bury the birds
in pieces of red cloth.
It was all very sad
and I would cry
as I scooped the dirt
into their small graves
with a spoon.
Baudelaire would come
and join in
my insect funerals,
saying little prayers
the size of
dead birds.

San Fransisco
February 1958

Let’s Voyage Into The New American House

When you take your pill
it’s like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside of you.

There are doors
that want to be free
from their hinges to
fly with perfect clouds.

There are windows
that want to be
released from their
frames to run with
the deer through
back country meadows.

There are walls
that want to prowl
with the mountains
through the early
morning dusk.

There are floors
that want to digest
their furniture into
flowers and trees.

There are roofs
that want to travel
gracefully with
the stars through
circles of darkness.

The Double-Bed Dream Gallows

Driving through
hot brushy country
the late autumn,
I saw a hawk
crucified on a
barbed-wire fence.

I guess as a kind
of advertisement
to other hawks,
saying from the pages
of a leading women’s

“She’s beautiful,
but burn all the maps
to your body.
I’m not here
of my own choosing.”

Poker Star

It’s a star that looks
like a poker game above
the mountains of eastern
There are three men playing.
They are all sheepherders.
One of them has two pair,
the others have nothing.


La voyageuse qui traverse les Halles à la tombée de l’été
Marchait sur la pointe des pieds
Le désespoir roulait au ciel ses grands arums si beaux
Et dans le sac à main il y avait mon rêve ce flacon de sels
Que seule a respiré la marraine de Dieu
Les torpeurs se déployaient comme la buée
Au Chien qui fume
Ou venaient d’entrer le pour et le contre
La jeune femme ne pouvait être vue d’eux que mal et de biais
Avais-je affaire à l’ambassadrice du salpêtre
Ou de la courbe blanche sur fond noir que nous appelons pensée
Les lampions prenaient feu lentement dans les marronniers
La dame sans ombre s’agenouilla sur le Pont-au-Change
Rue Git-le-Coeur les timbres n’étaient plus les mêmes
Les promesses de nuits étaient enfin tenues
Les pigeons voyageurs les baisers de secours
Se joignaient aux seins de la belle inconnue
Dardés sous le crêpe des significations parfaites
Une ferme prospérait en plein Paris
Et ses fenêtres donnaient sur la voie lactée
Mais personne ne l’habitait encore à cause des survenants
Des survenants qu’on sait plus devoués que les revenants
Les uns comme cette femme ont l’air de nager
Et dans l’amour il entre un peu de leur substance
Elle les interiorise
Je ne suis le jouet d’aucune puissance sensorielle
Et pourtant le grillon qui chantait dans les cheveux de cendres
Un soir près de la statue d’Etienne Marcel
M’a jeté un coup d’oeil d’intelligence
a-t-il dit passe

The Lake Josephus Days

We left Little Redfish for Lake Josephus, traveling along the good names — from Stanley to Capehorn to Seafoam to the Rapid River, up Float Creek, past the Greyhound Mine and then to Lake Josephus, and a few days after that up the trail to Hell-diver Lake with the baby on my shoulders and a good limit of trout waiting in Hell-diver.

Knowing the trout would wait there like airplane tickets for us to come, we stopped at Mushroom Springs and had a drink of cold shadowy water and some photographs taken of the baby and me sitting together on a log.

I hope someday we’ll have enough money to get those pictures developed. Sometimes I get curious about them, wondering if they will turn out all right. They are in suspension now like seeds in a package. I’ll be older when they are developed and easier to please. Look there’s the baby! Look there’s Mushroom Springs! Look there’s me!

I caught the limit of trout within an hour of reaching Hell-diver, and my woman, in all the excitement of good fishing, let the baby fall asleep directly in the sun and when the baby woke up, she puked and I carried her back down the trail.

My woman trailed silently behind, carrying the rods and the fish. The baby puked a couple more times, thimblefuls of gentle lavender vomit, but still it got on my clothes, and her face was hot and flushed.

We stopped at Mushroom Springs. I gave her a small drink of water, not too much, and rinsed the vomit taste out of her mouth. Then I wiped the puke off my clothes and for some strange reason suddenly it was a perfect time, there at Mushroom Springs, to wonder whatever happened to the Zoot suit.

Along with World War II and the Andrews Sisters, the Zoot suit had been very popular in the early 40s. I guess they were all just passing fads.

A sick baby on the trail down from Hell-diver, July 1961, is probably a more important question. It cannot be left to go on forever, a sick baby to take her place in the galaxy, among the comets, bound to pass close to the earth every 173 years.

She stopped puking after Mushroom Springs, and I carried her back down along the path in and out of the shadows and across other nameless springs, and by the time we got down to Lake Josephus, she was all right.

She was soon running around with a big cutthroat trout in her hands, carrying it like a harp on her way to a concert — ten minutes late with no bus in sight and no taxi either.