Danny Barth and I don’t share any DNA, but he’s a cousin of mine, or of my wife’s or of my wife’s ex-husband, so he’s definitely family however you want to argue it. And he’s quite a writer on top of it all. If you want some proof, check out Fast Women Beautiful: Zen Beat Baseball Poems.
There’s whimsy and vernacular, more than a little semi-Buddhistic philosophy, and sometimes a rhyme or two, but it’s all engaging and pulls you into an experience or a moment with clarity of image and emotion. Take the title piece:
Fast women beautiful horses
banjos bluegrass bourbon
it’s a region it’s a religion it’s a
way of life and on the first
Saturday in May it all comes
together for two heart-pounding
minutes at Churchill Downs racetrack
in Louisville someday you
gotta go there sometime you
gotta see it by god it’s wonderful
it’s amazing there’s nothing else
like it it’s the Kentucky Derby.
Sounds like a completely colloquial barroom soliloquy until you realize the rhythms–if you’ve ever stood by the finish lines at a horse race–mimic, or at least suggest, not only the sounds of the pounding hooves but the sights of the jockeys rocking in their saddles and pumping the reins during the stretch push and so in this poem you have that moment just before you have to tear up your losing ticket when you think there’s a chance still … and who cares any way because, like the man says, it’s the Kentucky Derby. If you can’t get there, this poem is a good substitute, but you’re better off going. Guaranteed.
Any reader of a volume of poetry will have favorites. Mine include ”Hiawatha Sticky Fingers,” “Too Bad,” “Mr. Ghandi,” “Feel Like a Poem,” and “Walking Away from Los Angeles International Airport.” I can guarantee you’ll have your favorites as well. Check into Amazon and pick up a copy. It will do you, Dan, and the faltering economy a lot of good. Guaranteed.
And speaking of favorites, I have a response to “Walking Away from Los Angeles International Airport,” and it goes something like this here:
You can’t walk away from L.A
It’s too big for one thing.
And it’s not made for walking for another.
They want you to drive or ride or fly around
Ask the hispanics in Tortilla Curtain
You can walk in but you can’t walk out you
Get stuck in the canyons or like Raymond Chandler in
The suburbs or like Billy Crystal in
Santa Monica somewhere reaching for a statue
But end up sliding down a
Paradise Cove Ferris Wheel
Or a Pacific Palisades mudslide
Or a Los Padres fire hose
James Garner mobile
Home of the rerun
And if you think you have forgiven
Goddamn America and yourself
And your debtors
As they have
Forgiven you don’t
Forget it’s just Hollywood
You to NYC, Hong Kong, Bangkok, London, Stuttgart, Milan,
Auvignon, or the moon the
Power of L.A.
Wrapping the world tight
In a fantasy
Even if you’ve never