Four and One

Poems by Jim Gustafson


1988 poem by the late Jim Gustafson read by Robert Jones and produced by Jim Pallas.
Read the poem at


The cops don't have magnums of champagne
in the backseats of their cruisers.
Seven year old kids know how to steal motorcycles
and where they can get new serial numbers.
Watch out, keep down.
My father was the star of the demolition derby, my mother
sang with Les Elgart until her voice gave out.
But that won't get me a Liberty Bond sandwich,
or a banjo good enough to carry to California.
Soak your head in a bucket of gasoline when it gets too tough.
There isn't a work clothes store in the whole city
that will sell me another black t-shirt with a pocket
on credit.
I can't take it.

* * *

Let's steal the hubcaps off Cadillacs
and submit them to the Paris Review-
I'm tired of being treated like a junkie
with a lisp.

* * *

Save your dead pigeons, Monty, sell the pelts off your rats.
Call Bruno's Bump Shop and say "437 on Tuesday"
and see what happens.
Walk into the drugstore, look real together,
buy the New York Times and a pack of Winstons,
stare into the woman clerk’s eyes
and say “machismo”
See how long you live.

* * *

He leaves Detroit because he's tired of selling his asshole for gumdrops.
In California everyone has a sports car,
but he isn't even going to argue anymore.
His mother sang her lungs out at the UAW picnic,
but it didn't get her a pork chop a watermelon seed,
or a glass of grape kool aid.
Write that down on your scorecard and send it to the pope.
This boy is bitter.
To get the situation straight,
a handfull of Texaco roadmaps and a head full of seaweed
would be better than this.
Blow up a piano in the memory of Detroit,
and swing open them gates, Henry Ford, I'm walking through,
and I have a squirrel gun and a beaker of acid
that says you can't stop me.
by permission
copyright 1975 by Jim Gustafson
from "Bright Eyes Talks Crazy to Rembrandt" (1975),
thirty-five poems by Jim Gustafson,
published by Hanging Loose Press, 231 Wykoff St., Brooklyn, New York 11217

 "No Money in Art" by Jerome Ferretti
limited edition ink jet print for "Arta Fundi" project

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