Spicer, irresistible badman

Was reading Jack Spicer and U.A. Fanthorpe in the National Library of Scotland tonight, ah wondrous retreat. They’re unlikely to have any joint monographs published about them anytime soon, but the two pamphlets I was enjoying do slot nicely into each other with their complementary lime-green and yellow pages respectively, and their shared A5 format.

I was clearly enjoying myself too much as I accidentally handed in my own notebook with the titles at the end of the night. Hopefully it can be retrieved tomorrow. . .

I thought I’d share a Spicer excerpt. It’s from Admonitions, his mid-length sequence of poems, all addressed to different people he knew. Spicer being the prickly customer that he was, I suspect about half of them were not meant nicely. He talks in his introduction (addressed as a letter to (publisher?) Joe Dunn) about how each poem is a mirror fashioned to show up what he, the mirror-maker, would like the recipient to see about themselves. It’s clearly a manipulative strategy. It takes the idea of each reader finding his or her own concerns mirrored in a text out of anonymity and into aggressive specifics. In some cases, the recipients are more or less victims of an attack and Jack Spicer’s poems seem to have been effectively targetted weapons at various points.

The one I’m sharing doesn’t appear to be nasty, though. In fact, it’s rather fun.

For Willie

There is no excuse for bad ghosts

Or bad thoughts

6x / 10 equals 150

And electric socket with a plug in it

Or a hole in your eyeball:

It is bad

And everyone says, “What?” X

– 4X / 10 equals 150.


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