Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

The first poet to blow my mind

I discovered Richard Brautigan when I was about 13. I was looking through old books of my dad’s when I came across a copy of Rommel Drives on Deep Into Egypt.

I opened it to a random page

Have You Ever Had a Witch Bloom Like a Highway?

Have you ever had a witch bloom like a highway

on your mouth? and turn your breathing to her

fancy? like a little car with blue headlights

passing forever in a dream?

Holy shit! I had never read anything like it before and it was amazing. I carried that book around for all of high school and most of college.

I read it over and over until it fell to pieces and then I bought another copy at Powell’s City of Books. Then I bought everything else of his I could get my hands on.

Trout Fishing in America was boring. The Abortion: A Historical Romance was over my head. The Pill Versus the Springhill Mining Disaster was good and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace was glorious.

But nothing else ever did it for me like Rommel. I spent hours memorizing it and I stole from it mercilessly for my own writing.

Deer Tracks

Beautiful, sobbing, high-geared fucking

and then to lie silently like deer tracks

in the freshly fallen snow beside the one

you love. That’s all.

I don’t read it as often now, but it sits on my shelf of special books so I always know where to find it.