EAT NOT THY MIND
Glass Eye Books / Ecstatic Peace Library
by Gerard Malanga
Right from the get-go, Charles Plymell gets off the first shot in a spree of rhythmic vibrations in "The Theory of Wounded Dust" that betters even Ginsberg's early thrusts. And so Eat Not Thy Mind is a modest display in size only (29 poems packed into 34 pages), filled with BIG cautionary tales of doom and destruction and memories of planet Earth the way it used to be in more innocent times with waves of glowing wheat stretching as far as the crow flies in those dreams of Kansas. I read this cozy little book cover to cover aloud to Ravel's soothing "Gaspard de la Nuit" like in some scopitone flurry as if looking out a car window with Charley at the steering-wheel.
"Bend down America and kiss the asphalt, you voted for it" is just one sheering line that shoots from the hip. "…successes too long/continued is assuredly a prologue to disaster" is another, and so greed pops up here and there as Charley talks the Wall Street Journal lingo, so those suit-and-tie guys can understand fully out on their lunch hour in the glaring light.
Charley's a car man, and has been very much on the road before Kerouac was driven round (he didn't drive), as he is so solidly on his feet:
Creation lets us duplicate ourselves
through the eons of blood and science
synchronized neon and dashboard lights
in pirouettes of electric life.
(from "Look Around You")
Nowadays highways are byways
and not one going my way
(from "Get Used to Saying Goodbye")
His rusted spirit rides in a pick-up truck
Electro-body Precambrian the backseat full of Bud.
(from "The Stills Flick Separately")
Hitch a ride from the gray area
Take a bend in the road going south
Out of South Bend somewhere imagined
To the Delta dirt where the cotton is pure
And the polka dot shirt flies in the wind
…and again, with the ending to "Wounded Dust":
I remember Kansas where everything dead and gone
became a faded dashboard with the soft green light
and scrap metal beheld the children of a ruined world.
Charley knows. He comes from a long tradition of yarn-spinners and rail-riders. He's looked in all directions endless times to those fields where he's traipsed as a kid where "Flowers for the wildlife wreath grow no more" and "the wind in the grass waves away the years" and "…it's lonely in the shadows when they cross the open road."
With Charley behind the steering-wheel of poetry and me in the front-seat beside him I wouldn't have it any other way.