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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Happy Birthday, Richard Brautigan

Today is the birthday of Richard Brautigan, a Beat writer who had a huge influence on me when I first read his works in high school. That was during the 70's, and I was fortunate enough to have hippie English teachers who introduced me to Brautigan as well as to Kurt Vonnegut and, of course, J. D. Salinger. To a teenager growing up in a very fundamentalist culture, reading Brautigan was a liberation. He was my introduction to the Beat Writers, and his way of writing, both poetry and prose, influenced my own style of writing more than any other author. Brautigan could mix together the absurd and the profound in a single poem, or in a single short prose-poem, which is what many of the chapters in his novels actually are. (I like to think my poem Gnostic Cat shows some of his influence.)

I still remember the day in 1984 when the news was broadcast that Brautigan's body had been found, an apparent suicide. I was a student at Georgia State University, and I skipped all my classes and spent the day in Little Five Points. I remember going to Charis Books & More (still my favorite bookstore) and buying one of the few Brautigan books I didn't already have. They had heard the news also, and were saddened. I remember eating lunch at the Atomic Cafe (now the Flying Biscuit) and talking with others I had never met before, who were stunned and saddened by the news.

Brautigan's birthday is remembered today on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac, where he is described as "an important cult and literary figure in the counterculture movement of the 1960s. He was called a 'hippie author,' but most of his writing was about death, anxiety, and change." Here's an excerpt from today's Writer's Almanac:
Brautigan moved to San Francisco, where he wrote his best-selling novel, Trout Fishing in America (1967). The back cover has only the word "Mayonnaise" in white letters on a solid red background. It's a tradition to flirt in coffee shops by showing someone the back cover from far away and then refusing to explain. Brautigan said, "If you get hung up on everybody else's hang-ups, then the whole world's going to be nothing more than one huge gallows."

It's a little disappointing that Garrison Keillor's poem of the day today is by someone other than Brautigan. So here are two poems by Richard Brautigan, lifted from his book The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster. (According to a prefatory note written by Brautigan in 1967, "Permission is granted to reprint any of these poems in magazines, books and newspapers if they are given away free." Blog of the Grateful Bear is a free website, so here goes:)


All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.


The Galilee Hitch-Hiker
Part 1

Baudelaire was
driving a Model A
across Galilee.
He picked up a
hitch-hiker named
Jesus who had
been standing among
a school of fish,
feeding them
pieces of bread.
"Where are you
going?" asked
Jesus, getting
into the front
"Anywhere, anywhere
out of this world!"
"I'll go with you
as far as
said Jesus.
"I have a
at the carnival
there, and I
must not be


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion, Richard would appreciate your website. I know that I do.

8:52 PM, January 30, 2005  
Blogger ozuyewakan said...

RIP, dude. thoroughly enjoyed your California. hope you're enjoying the afterdeath abalones.

6:59 AM, February 02, 2009  

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