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.
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
SEA, SEA RIDER
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 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.
“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
“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?”
“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
OF MAKING WALNUT CATSUP
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
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.
PROLOGUE TO GRIDER CREEK
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
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
WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING
IN AMERICA PEACE
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
The stickers had WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING IN AM-
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:
“DON’T DROP AN H-BOMB ON THE OLD FISHING HOLE I”
“ISAAC WALTON WOULD’VE HATED THE BOMB!”
“ROYAL COACHMAN, SI! ICBM, NO!”
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 HUNCHBACK TROUT
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
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-
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
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
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
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
THE PUDDING MASTER OF
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-
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
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
THE AUTOPSY 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
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
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
SANDBOX MINUS JOHN
DILLINGER EQUALS WHAT?
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
A RETURN TO THE COVER OF
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.
Trout Fishing in America
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 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
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
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
driving a Model A
He picked up a
Jesus who had
been standing among
a school of fish,
pieces of bread.
‘Where are you
into the front
out of this world!’
‘I’ll go with you
as far as
‘I have a
at the carnival
there, and I
must not be
The American Hotel
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,’
‘I live in the American Hotel,’
said the wino. ‘And I can
‘Be you drunken ceaselessly,’
Baudelaire used to come
to our house and watch
me grind coffee.
That was in 1939
and we lived in the slums
My mother would put
the coffee beans in the grinder.
I was a child
and would turn the handle,
pretending that it was
and Baudelaire would pretend
that he was a monkey,
hopping up and down
and holding out
a tin cup.
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
The Hour of Eternity
read the time
in the eyes
and went into
a jewelry store
on Market Street.
He came out
a few moments
cat that he
wore on the
end of a
or aren’t you
going to eat
you bloody odd
on the back
as he sat
out the window.
Then he laughed
waving his spoon
in the air
like a wand
changing the room
into a painting
into a painting
by Van Gogh.
A Baseball Game
to a baseball game
and bought a hot dog
and lit up a pipe
The New York Yankees
the Detroit Tigers.
In the fourth inning
an angel committed
suicide by jumping
off a low cloud.
The angel landed
on second base,
to crack like
a huge mirror.
The game was
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
laughed when the
up against his
leg like a
My Insect Funeral
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
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
There are floors
that want to digest
their furniture into
flowers and trees.
There are roofs
that want to travel
the stars through
circles of darkness.
The Double-Bed Dream Gallows
hot brushy country
the late autumn,
I saw a hawk
crucified on a
I guess as a kind
to other hawks,
saying from the pages
of a leading women’s
but burn all the maps
to your body.
I’m not here
of my own choosing.”
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.