The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems
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“[B. H. Fairchild] is the American voice at its best: confident and conflicted, celebratory and melancholic.”―New York Times
Gathering works from five of B. H. Fairchild's previous volumes stretching over thirty years, and adding twenty-six brilliant new poems, The Blue Buick showcases the career of a poet who represents "the American voice at its best: confident and conflicted, celebratory and melancholic" (New York Times).
Fairchild's poetry covers a wide range, both geographically and intellectually, though it finds its center in the rural Midwest: in oilfields and dying small towns, in taverns, baseball fields, one-screen movie theaters, and skies "vast, mysterious, and bored." Ultimately, its cultural scope―where Mozart stands beside Patsy Cline, with Grunewald, Gödel, and Rothko only a subway ride from the Hollywood films of the 1950s―transcends region and decade to explore the relationship of memory to the imagination and the mysteries of time and being. And finally there is the character of Roy Eldridge Garcia, a machinist/poet/philosopher who sees in the landscape and silence of the high plains the held breath of the earth, "as if we haven't quite begun to exist. That coming into being still going on."
From the machine work elevated to high art that is the subject of The Arrival of the Future (1985) to the despairing dreamers of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (2002) to the panoramic, voice-driven structure of Usher (2009), Fairchild's work, "meaty, maximalist, driven by narrative, stakes out an American mythos" (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times).
From "The Blue Buick:"
A boy standing on a rig deck looks across the plains.
A woman walks from a trailer to watch the setting sun.
A man stands beside a lathe, lighting a cigar.
Imagined or remembered, a girl in Normandy
Sings across a sea, that something may remain.
babe, easy out, and go right ahead and pitch to the boy, but nothing fancy, just hard fastballs right around the belt, and the kid takes the first two but on the third pops the bat around so quick and sure that they pause a moment before turning around to watch the ball still rising and finally dropping far beyond the abandoned tractor that marks left field. Holy shit. They’re pretty quiet watching him round the bases, but then, what the hell, the kid knows how to hit a ball, so what,
behind the cash box while her daughter, Rosa, tries to quiet her baby whose squalls rip through the store like a weed cutter shredding the souls of the carnal, the appetitious, indeed the truly depraved as we in our grievous late-night stupor and post-marijuana hunger curse the cookie selection and all its brethren and Al yells at Leno lost among the chips, beef jerky, string cheese, bananas for Chrissakes, that if he doesn’t stop now and forever telling Okie jokes he will shoot his dog
“Mad Monk,” indeed. I don’t know, the women, that crazy cult. And God knows I’m no saint myself. But all past. Long time. Vodka under the bridge. He was my father, and he loved me. History judges him, nothing I can do. Listen: history is a mess, just one damned thing and then another. Believe me, I know. I was there. The door of history closes, opens. It opened, I went through. Czar, Czarina, children, gone. Varya, Mitia, gone. All gone. And I survive. Two husbands, five countries, two
Song of Bernadette and friend of Kafka, was a part of the European émigré community in L.A. during the late thirties and forties, along with Mann and the others named here. Manzanar was a prison camp for Japanese U.S. citizens during World War II; the Rodney King beating, widely televised, culminated in the L.A. riots of 1992. “The Art of the Lathe”: Ramsden, Vauconson, and the others named here were major contributors to the development of the lathe and other machine tools. See W. Steeds, A
reflections and extensions of that past, though at the time it was merely the chrysalis of what would become, for him, beautiful.” —Beloit Poetry Journal “Fairchild’s poems work with meter, image, and diction to become both intellectually complicated and lyrically gorgeous.” —Robert Stewart, New Letters Praise for the Work of B. H. Fairchild “Lush with cottonwoods, Kansas autumns, Ford tractors, dust devils, oil rigs, family and the pull of history, B. H. Fairchild’s poems resonate with