This and the following book by Bouchard arrived by mail this week. If you don't know him, Dan is the editor of the excellent journal, The Poker. I think I may have let my subscription lapse (blush)--sorry, Dan! Opening this book, I can see that at least the first poem, Wrackline, is familiar, as the author sent me the chapbook of the same name a few years back. After my first book, To Be Sung, appeared, the infamous literary outlaw Richard Deming suggested I send the book to Mr. Bouchard, as both of us had had chapbooks published by Phylum, which is run by Deming and Nancy Kuhl.
I don't want you to think badly of Dan just because he is associated with Richard Deming. Despite his criminal history, Deming is actually America's foremost scholar of Pragmatism in the works of WIlliam Squier, John Michael Osbourne and Edward Van Halen. He also teaches at Yale and collects the works of Joe Brainard, so we can forgive the rest, and we shouldn't in any case let that taint our view of Daniel Bouchard, even though he once sent me a postcard on which he desecrated an image Delacroix's La Liberté with a cartoon speech bubble rising from the lips of a revolutionary that said: "Long Live Deming."
Here's the beginning of "Wrackline":
A red-winged blackbird on gray
fence post spreads wings and
sings into a wind. A hill
behind the shacks, sloping to salt marsh
I walk in late afternoon. The sun
ignites mosses, lichens, grasses
very dry, soft to lay on. Scotch pines,
decades old, the soft hillside of rotten
branches and pine needles.
On the drive to work
I sometimes see K getting coffee
at a donut shop.. There is a cemetery
across the street from a hamburger place.
My friend Ed is buried there.
Crumpled ironing boards, new cardboard
boxes, their tight interior
styrofoam, paper envelopes, paper
towels, paper napkins, paper
cups, cans emptied of vegetables,
soda, soup and beer.
Trucks rotate every day;
assigned to three, twice a week
I do two. Nuthatch, wren, and woodthrush.
I learn the truck routes by rote. They digress
in a labyrinth of back roads and side streets.
Paper plate, plastic forks, wine
bottles, old clothing, plastic
that wrapped new things.
To emerge onto a main road
means significant ground has been covered,
to emerge onto a main road
in the direction opposite from that
which you first came means the day
is winding down. Containers, stuff
from bathrooms, stuff from kitchens
all heaved into the truck. Salt
spray, rose, sassafras.
Black cherry, bear berry, seaside
goldenrod, sea beach sandwort.
Morning comes and the pillow
cools quickly after your face leaves it...