This morning I was reading an F. A. Nettelbeck book and thinking about his little books and his poems. Half the time I roll my eyes at what, when I was editing a magazine, I used to call Body Fluid Poetry, but he rescues it over and over either in the poem itself or by juxtaposition with stuff that doesn’t seem like a gratuitous “outpouring”. My friend Greg Hall did this too and I suspect I do too; hopefully with some skill. I admire a poet that can talk dirty with delicacy.
The thing with Nettelbeck is that his units of stuff have an impact, whether books or tiny THIS IS IMPORTANT pamphlets. I read them all at once and am left with the impression of having walked through a hologram of a poet’s state of mind, of how their perceptions intertwine with language. The poems might be tiny units themselves but it’s the whole book that sticks with me and the poem doesn’t even *try* to wind up reality and stick a hypocritical christmas bow of finality on it. Fine, instead I am on a rusting lawn chair on a dirty porch hearing a train go by but at least we’re kicked back together with some Thoughts. Fred is always doing something but is always someplace else at the same time. We are in history. I get a little sentimental about some ink on a page from 1976 talking to ME RIGHT NOW DAMMIT. And into the future. Just a moment. You would never know what’s in another person’s brain as they sit next to you on that porch looking across the street but you just never know because anyone, anyone could be thinking on any level.
No Place Fast Listen, you can hear the blood drip quaintly onto the sidewalk children playing in it draw pictures of animals in bright red fashion everything seems to be a feverish, frenzied, half-acquitted history then the bullets turn into rain drops and the animals are washed away . . .
Another thing about Fred — I like his line breaks. You know how some people are trying too hard and are amateurish about how they turn a line? It’s good to know a poet knows what they’re doing but Nettelbeck also never stinks of academia which if you have ever sat through a Creative Writing Seminar sort of thing you should know what I mean.
Well, Son they came down from the academy in smocks paint the colors of jealousy no one asked them just like ushers in church soapy faced splattered us all with their paint broke our sculptures set fire to most of the drawings ripped up our canvases with knives no one blamed them they were only doing their duty showing a little gratitude we broke out the beer & relaxed applauded I think that's when they started to call it art this is art they said you will learn
R.I.P. Fred. and Dirty Greggie. Hanging out with Rimbaud and Genet on my bookshelf having a beer and listening to Jimmie Rodgers.
Granted I feel weird about liking old poet dudes this much when however much they humanize their whorey angels they still got em but we are all in the framework of patriarchy so what the hell.