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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

Into the

James Garner mobile

Home of the rerun

Malibu detective


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

Endings following

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

Escape proof

Even if you’ve never

Been there.


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