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This work is licensed
under a Creative Commons
4.0 International License

Postmodern Village
est. 1999
e-mail * terms * privacy
It’ll Put a Spring Into Your Step (and All)
by Alistair Ulster

This is just to say
that I have eaten
the plums that were
on the counter, and that you
were probably
saving to throw at
the neighborhood children.

They were rotten,
so warm
and so putrid.

This poem opens Wilhelm Charles Guillaumes’ new book of poetry, Sting and All, a collection seeming to echo an American past, now distant - but the sound is skewed slightly - a sepia-tone photograph of a Pentium IV. It all seems so rational, somehow though, ideas packaged in things, sealed with a high-impact polymer laminate. There’s this, entitled “The Red Beer-Barrel”:

So much depends
on a box
of Depends
wrapped in plastic

the wide

It comes so close, the image. It reminds me of New Jersey, somehow, of falls, but then it falls away, and I’m left with a book in my hands and a twelve bucks’ hole in my pocket. Still, there’s an integrity to it, a sustenance. I wouldn’t say I’d die for a lack of what’s found there, but it satisfies, and sometimes produces snickers, like when Guillaumes talks about the Outrageous Hospital and the

  hardscrabble plants
      that grow
among the discarded rubber
noses and used-up
          rainbow colored wigs.

Laughter, they say is the best.

There are short stories too, interspersed among the poems - though the jury is still out on whether or not Guilluames’ work constitutes poetry at all, despite his being commonly anthologized. One of special interest is about a laughter therapist simply trying to ply his trade. “The Use of Farce” hinges on the doctor’s inability to get a young girl to open up her mouth and laugh. Underlying the narrative, of course, is the difficult question of how much humor violates the right of the individual to remain dull.

Chilling, perhaps, but only so much that it elicits a wry smile, like that first punch of seriously cool air of mid-October or so. That and Judy and you’ve got a show, if you know what I mean. Guilluames spares us not that, for he’s entertaining as well as esoteric, perhaps the best combination we can hope for in a poet these days.

And anyway, what’s twelve bucks between you, me and the Passaic?