The Everlasting Bean
By E.W. Wilder
My work as the editor of Bean Newton’s oeuvre have at times
been hindered by the author’s posthumous nature. Recent charges
by, among others, the noted British scholar Lord Chesius Phartley, maintain
that my work has actually been enhanced by the fact that Newton is no
longer with us -- and therefore no longer able to defend himself nor
explain his purposes. Phartley argues that, rather than many of Newton’s
poems being left unfinished by his untimely death in 1998, his works
were “fully-formed post-modern statements about the state of unfinishedness”
I will admit that his arguments are cogent. Given Newton’s perspective
on the “devolving, craptastic, fin de siecle, with a dose of diverticulitis
and Lil’ Debbie worship cesspole (sic)”² that was America,
a purposefully unfinished poem might make a certain amount of sense.
However, if there is one thing Newton was not about, it was sense as
such. And the idea of his work being formalistically polemic tends to
be downplayed by clearly finished pieces, such as “Beanball”
below, which evince a sense of what the unfinished works would have
been had the bus been a little later that day or his blue Toyota been
a little more quick. It would be inconsistent for Newton to finish a
given work and then arbitrarily leave another work undone simply to
make a statement.
To the credit of Phartley et al., however, Newton was not especially
known for consistency either.
by Bean Newton
And why not pinball? Let’s eat cookies and stand on our heads.
Let’s press our faces against the cool tile, knock down windows
with stones. It’s all godly: God made worms and worms am good,
even the ones what drive cars. Let them be - structured as they are,
tooth on bone, lipid chain or protease gush, neurotransmitters washing
glial cells, springing action into electrical hum. Let them come, the
worms from other-spaces, the golden rays of God’s gun melting
human resistance into holiness. What was Superman but an accident of
The sun shines more brightly on the rich. We know this from the commercials
for Lexi, the icons that, bronzed by chemical bath in the processing,
graze the pages of Cosmo-Vani‘zaar. Lick them and they become
the tongue that tells you, sleeping, what statue you are not, what stature
you do not occupy on the pederasters in Plato’s bar on 5th. The
hipless need not apply.
The hipless form their own sky, occupy their own Pantheon in IT departments
and College Bowl. We shall study them, one day, name theories after.
Art ended as soon as it began to be cool. What was, was one day a sluice
of wonks in paint, garrets full of bad smells and fuzzy wine. Marketing
models predicted fewer former college students would be poor, stinky,
booze-addicted and stupid. I’d like to think it was all the fault
of the Fonz. But I knew better. He was just a mechanic.
I’m just an anxious melancholic. Admit it: you’re anxious
too. It’s the ping-pong ball flavors this season; they’ve
gone to bleu cheese, piña colada and what we used to just call
“yellow.” I can’t stand it. What happened to champagne
and bar-b-que? How can I fix my poems without the help of a little,
hollow, plastic ball? Next, you’ll tell me Tony the Tiger doesn’t
know what the hell he’s talking about. How can they not be grrreat?
The fried grease rods at McYoder’s are perfect. Smiling children
on the television told me so. SugarFizz is the only thing to wash them
down with. Frog Flies for d-zert - bone appleteet. In wino-veri-taste.
The very taste of flashing lights and thumping bumpers I adore. Agape
never felt so good; as my gratuity slides down the slot, the balls bump
up, the silver balls that flash into existence as you pay, disappear
with the flubbing fingers. Ding-dong narrowly along the ridge between
feel and see. A bump, a tilt is a fulfillment, a hard-won, a loss. Sore
fingers, how cauliflower is your brainstem? How steamy the plume of
cord your core-text has become. Read on, little swing. Loom in, swoon
on, wank out.
1. Phartley, Lord Chesius. “On the Scrambled Oeuvre of Bean Newton:
Omelette or Cracked Shell?” Simpleton 14 (2005). 125-56.
2. Newton, Thomas “Bean.” The Collected Letters and
Electronic Mail of Bean Newton. Ed. E.W. Wilder. New York: Purewater
Press, expected date of publication 2006.