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
saving to throw at
the neighborhood children.
They were rotten,
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
wrapped in plastic
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
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?