Poetry for Southern California
By G. Murray Thomas, Senior Editor
WE PUT THINGS IN OUR MOUTHS
Book by Rick Lupert
Ain’t Got No Press (www.poetrysuperhighway.com)
We Put Things in Our Mouths is, on the surface, a humorous travelogue in poetry. The poems describe Lupert’s European vacation with his wife Addie, with a sharp eye for absurdity, both in the observed cities and in his own behavior.
Lupert finds the humor in the mundane. Even on the page, his humor is clearly deadpan (anyone who has seen Lupert perform his work knows he is a master of deadpan delivery). A couple of samples demonstrate his style:
"The Judgment of Cambyses"
(Gerard David, 1498)
I see a painting in which a man is flayed alive
meaning his skin is removed from his body.
Now that I know what flayed means, I can be sure
to not accidentally request it.
"Alert, Alert, Beer is Coming "
is what our taste buds say as they watch the froth disappear
according to the beer woman at the Brugge brewery
“You are to converse with the beer until the head is gone”
she continues. “If it speaks back, it is time to go home.”
I will say right now, that if you don’t find those poems funny, Lupert may not be the poet for you. Personally, I find these poems quite amusing.
This vacation seems to consist almost entirely of two activities—visiting museums and consuming various specialties of the countries visited (hence the title). Rick and Addie eat cheese and chocolate, and drink beer across the continent.
"Nothing Makes Me Happier Than Free Cheese "
That is to say excepting my wife
and maybe large sums of money
and good health
and all the cats in the world.
But besides that
here on the cheese farm
with the abundant free samples
I am very happy.
"A Day of Chocolate" (excerpt)
In our first chocolate shop they greet us with “would you
like a free sample” and how could one say no to such a
thing. It is then we realize, on this street with chocolate
shop after chocolate shop, that free samples offer an entire
day’s worth of activity. Soon the chocolate on our lips has
the shops closing their doors as we approach.
The second most common topic for these poems is visiting museums:
"In Magritte’s House "
They make us put plastic socks over our shoes
before walking up the stairs.
“It protects the floors” the guide tells us
“But it’s kind of surreal on it’s own”
she adds with a wild-eyed smile.
"At the Musee Rodin "
What’s he thinking about?
But that is the surface. What these poems are really about is the relationship between Rick, the absurdist, and the much more practical Addie. Again and again, Addie balances out Rick’s more ridiculous tendencies:
"That Would be Too Many Cats at Once "
“I want every cat in the world
to come to me right now
so I can pet them” I say
after I spot a second
inaccessible one through a window.
“That doesn’t sound like a good idea”
says Addie “You might want to rethink that”
and, of course, she is right.
Or, when Rick gets too absurd, she simply walks away:
"Evolution According to Rick "
I start to tell Addie
that mermaids evolved into
two legged mermaids which
evolved into monkeys which
eventually became people.
She stopped listening around
the time I said the word
"Continuing to Make My Own Kind of Music "
I yell “Fish!” one last time
in the train station, still without
fish, and still with my wife
disavowing all knowledge.
What comes through strongest in the end is Rick’s deep love for Addie. Deep down, We Put Things in Our Mouths is really an extended love poem.
—G. Murray Thomas
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