Poem of the Day: Richard Brautigan's "Group Portrait Without the Lions"


I have lots of erudite thoughts about this poem, which I would love to share, but then I'd be depriving you of something awfully funny, and occasionally awful. I discovered it randomly and loved it, so I hope you do the same. I can pretty much guarantee that I'll be writing more about Richard Brautigan (he's a forgotten figure of the 1960's, someone whose reputation was unfairly tied up with the beats), but for now, you ought to read this poem (or set of poems, not sure how to describe it.)
available light
Part 1

No party is
without you.

knows that.

The party
starts when
you arrive.

Part 2

Robot likes to sleep
through long lazy summer afternoons.
So do his friends
with the sun reflecting
off them like tin cans.

"Fred Bought a Pair of Ice Skates"
Part 3

Fred bought a pair of ice skates.
That was twenty years ago.
He still has them but he doesn't
skate any more.

"Calvin Listens to Starfish"
Part 4

Calvin listens to starfish.
He listens to them very carefully,
lying in the tide pools,
soaking wet
with his clothes on,
but is he really listening to them?

"Liz Looks at Herself in the Mirror"
Part 5

She's very depressed.
Nothing went right today,
so she doesn't believe that
shes there.
Part 6

This morning there
was a knock at the
door. You answered it.
The mailman was standing
there. He slapped your

Part 7

She’s glad
that Bill
likes her.

"Vicky Sleeps with Dead People"
Part 8

Vicky sleeps out in the woods
with dead people but she always
combs her hair in the morning.
Her parents don't understand her.
And she doesn't understand them.
They try. She tries. The dead
people try. They will all work
it out someday.

"Betty Makes Wonderful Waffles"
Part 9

Everybody agrees to

Part 10

Her mother still living
is 65.

Her grandmother still living
is 86.

"People in my family
live for a long time!"
—Claudia always used to say,

What a surprise
she had.

Part 11

Every night: just before he falls asleep
Walter coughs. Having never slept
in a room with another person, he thinks
that everybody coughs just before they fall
asleep. That's his world.

Part 12

Morgan finished second in his high school
presidential election in 1931.
He never recovered from it.
After that he wasn't interested in people
any more. They couldn't be counted on.
He has been working as a night watchman
at the same factory for over thirty years now.
At midnight he walks among the silent equipment.
He pretends they are his friends and they like
him very much. They would have voted
for him.

Part 13

Molly is afraid to go into the attic.
She's afraid if she went up there
and saw the box of clothes that she
used to wear twenty years ago,
she would start crying.

"'Ah, Great Expectations!'"
Part 14

Sam likes to say, "Ah, great expectations!"
at least three or four times in every
conversation. He is twelve years old.
Nobody knows what he is talking about when
he says it. Sometimes it makes people
feel uncomfortable.

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