Irony and humor are not the tools of every poet. But here Rich Boucher wears them like six-guns in this look into American history and how it is viewed.
A past member of five national poetry slam teams (Team Worcester, MA 1995 & 1996, Team Washington, DC in 2001, Team Wilmington, DE in 2007 and Team Albuquerque, NM in 2008), Rich has published four chapbooks of poetry and for seven years hosted an open reading and slam in Newark, Delaware. Like sands in the hourglass, Rich's poetry blends neo-brutalist surrealism with pagan music, sacred nonsense, revisionist history and "truth". Ever had a spiritual awakening on a Ferris Wheel? Rich hasn't, either. Page influences: James Tate, Charles Simic, Wallace Stevens. Stage influences: Bill MacMillan, Sean Shea, Lea Deschenes. Some of his recent work can be found here: www.depoetry.com
Please have Pity on these People; They are From the Past
Simply put, one cannot help oneself,
when one sees these covered wagons,
these desperate people in the Purina, horsey days
of the frontier, with their bonnets and prairie dresses jostling along
the steep ravines, late in history’s sepia afternoons;
how all of them, even the children, had copious, pre-Raphaelite hair,
floodsies and industrial suspenders like Michael Landon;
one cannot help but become sad upon reflection
that these hearty folk had no access to Facebook yet,
their palms had not yet felt the silky-smooth aluminum
of an Ipod across the lifelines in their hands.
Students of history will come to understand the concepts
of an outhouse, and an ax, and will use vocabulary
related to prairie life in the essay.
One cries, one becomes confused when one wonders
what these brave pioneers wore for underwear,
going without boxers or jockeys or “push-up bras”.
One sheds a tear, doubtless, when one realizes
that these innocent, tender people
often had to wear clothing that was not cool;
one verges upon uncontrollable sobbing
to know that these people had no mouthwash,
no Gillette Cool Wave men’s antiperspirant with granules for time-release.
Fur boutiques were especially hard to come by.
On summer nights, the villagers would gather and sing kumbayah,
wearing outfits that would later prompt the emergency formation of the U.N.
Inventors of drinking sassafras
& sarsaparilla soda, in fleece pajamas
they ate their rust flake salads sturdily,
like good, honorable little peons, decent people
even for their despicable lack of Doritos
or Pinã Coladas, Playstations, Botox;
one must bury one’s head in the bosom of a good friend,
and weep, and be all dramatic
to know that eating only hay, and whiskey, and pumpkins
made things like life, farming and downloading music
very tough for these measly, noble creatures.
Just the thought of them shambling about
in the hinterland acreage of the Ingalls
provokes a twinge of empathy and smallpox
for these people of the inferior past.
Even the lowliest of the low among us,
the cretins who wear their pants so low
that what should not be seen in daylight may be seen
are more evolved than these historical bumpkins
covered in manifest dust and gold dubloons,
and in the moment of realizing all this
even I am given pause to wonder if perhaps
I, too, am better than George Washington.
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