Kendra Grant Malone vs. Richard Brautigan in an Imagist Drunken Throwdown.

I think imagism means you don’t use many words and you write clearly. Crisp and brief. Sometimes there are leaves, but always water droplets, plums, garbage cans, and/or grass.

Here is an example:


A friend of mine sent me an email with this Richard Brautigan attached: “I Feel Horrible, She Doesn’t.” Apparently my friend’s girlfriend dumped him and he was all treading self-pity. I told him, “Relax. You know the best thing for when someone dumps you?”

He said, “Cough syrup?”

“No, not cough syrup.”

He said, “Forehead massage?”

“No, not that. Travel. World travel, preferably by ship. Works every time.”

Anyway, he’s in Spain now.

If you don’t know Brautigan, I’ll give you a quick bio. Born on earth. Liked the hippie vibe. Wore really cool mackinaws. Liked to be photographed with long-haired women. Liked to fish. Drank port wine. Shot self in the head with a revolver. Wrote Flash Fiction before there was Flash Fiction, so everyone called them “Brautigans.”

This book will please thee.

I think it’s bad-ass to have a genre labeled after your own name. (Kafkaesque anyone? Bond movie?)

Here is a prose poem I wrote about Brautigan, but don’t read it because this post isn’t about me:

Meaning of Life # 36


“Mr. Brautigan submitted a book to us in 1962 called Trout Fishing in America. I gather from the reports that it was not about trout fishing.”

Viking Press

Cloud of mechanical flower, sunny California. Of knobby nose, of cinder. Of clank. Because we have to deal with all of this—to metaphor or not to. Must sleep (cannabis) and wake (coffee) and live each day (with Baudelaire or newspaper or moth-eaten laundry mat love note) and sleep again (alcohol). Among the cast-less and the prayer-less, who don’t even grasp sun-clatter, the shaped voice of clouds. Hoop cheese and port wine. Blackberry zephyr. Hymnal of floppy hat, of bullfrog. A woman’s words as spring, summer, fall. Within the looped cast, the meander of raccoon tracks. October 25, 1984—a Thursday morning. See it mayfly, its curling hatch? Like fog or fog-horn or fogged-over steel. Waterlog heft. Underwood on a picnic table. Empty bottle. Full revolver. He will lift them, every one, soon as another young man stops him on a streetcar and asks, “If you don’t keep them, why go fishing at all?”

Kendra Grant Malone will enter this competition with one of her latest online publications, “It’s Better This Way.”

I will not give a bio of KGM because it’s somewhat rude to bio someone living, and she has her own blog. I do know she will drink wine with the town clerks on Sunday mornings. Etc.

Folks, let’s begin: Kendra Grant Malone vs. Richard Brautigan in an Imagist Drunken Throwdown

The categories are:

Best Opening Line

Best Image

Best Thing That Made Think

Best Reference to Nachos

Best Ending Line

Grab your bottle opener, secret drawer, and a brass llama; and let’s begin!!


(me, with ladies)

Best Opening Line

KGM: “when I fell in the shower”

Wham! Tension, my friends, the step-mother of literature. We all know the dangers of entering and exiting the bathtub, even if we do have bathtub safety devices installed (naturally, I do). Two hundred thousand people a year hurt themselves in bathrooms, and I’m not even including campers who are eaten by wolves as they stumble into the night to pee.

I’m being serious: BEWARE THE BATHROOM!

Elvis died in the bathroom. (OK, he did have Codeine, Morphine, Quaaludes, Valium, Diazepam, Placidyl, Amytal – Nembutal, Carbrital, Demerol, Sinutab, Elavil, Avental and Valmid in his body, but which of us doesn’t start the day with a cup of coffee? Don’t be a hypocrite.)

Lenny Bruce, too (there was a smidgen of heroin involved).

Hell, the hero of Greek Mythology, Agamemnon, died right there in the bathroom! (His wife stabbed him [note, she was really pissed. He killed their daughter])

My point is this: blueberries.

RB: “I feel horrible. She doesn’t”

Oh, Brautigan, Brautigan, my finely-coated friend. Trying to drop a little anti-dialectical materialism on us. Things in their fixity: the opposites contained in the sentence, the “I” and the “She” together (in the line), yet apart and striking out into their own new sentences within the line. Very, very smart. But it feels a bit forced. Remember, it is never cool to appear cool. Once you find yourself hating the taste of the very drink you hold to your lips, it’s time to understand why bars have mirrors.

KGM wins this round. Her line grants (poor pun) me conflict, and the potential of an image of a naked narrator. Naked narrators sell.

Best Image

KGM: I just sat there on the/shower floor/brushing my teeth”

Anytime a person can do two things at once, I’m in. Reading on the toilet. Cooking while scratching your earlobe while negotiating a divorce settlement. Driving while grading student exams on the steering wheel. Slippery while wet. All of these are noble acts.

The narrator cleanses the self twice, the exterior skin, the internal mouth (source of everything, the very words we speak).

RB: “I wander around/the house like a sewing machine”

I love an image that clicks. You get the visual zig-zagging of pacing, unknown searching for a place to settle, and then the metaphor of “sewing”: repairing some laceration, welding some heart to the floor with black threads.

Hmmm..a close one here. I’m calling a David bowtie.

Best Thing That Made Think

KGM: “she tried to help me up”

The existential moment for the narrator. We learn she (the narrator is actually sans gender here–I am just using the she pronoun for ease of writing) is not alone. Yet she is. Who thinks her thoughts before she falls asleep at night? Who will join her on the deathbed? Only her. She walks alone. And we get that here: the friend’s hand is rejected. What would be the point? To touch is not to feel.

RB: “that’s just finished sewing”

Ah, but is it finished? And if it were, does this poem exist? Weak.

KGM crushes this one like a beer can.

Best Reference to Nachos

Both of these artists are contemporary. Both know damn well that since that wondrous day in 1943 the planet earth has been populated with nachos. But nothing. Not even an jalapeno seed. Vagabonds! I spleen thee.


(r.p. tracks will blow your tofu nacho mind)

Best Ending Line

KGM: “no, it’s better this way.”

The title as conclusion. Cyclical life: day, night, day…And here’s where it has all ended up, all the hopes of this act: cleansing, soaping, shampooing, washing the dregs away, reappearing anew (and with scent of mangoes), preparing yourself, buffing yourself, scrubbing yourself, embracing yourself, for cleanliness. Finally. A lie transitory as mist. What’s that mottling below the brilliant white of the porcelain? The truth. One slip, and you’re on your ass, where you were always headed, gravity, Time, naked with the poem, cradled within yourself on the cooling, cooling, cold tub floor.

RB: “a turd to a garbage can lid.”

Any writer who ends their poem with the term turd immediately wins the category.

Ok, now for the final tabulations! Let me just grab my abacus. Carry the one, move this bead here, feed this little calculation into my Atari. One moment…


Wow, no one saw this coming, especially on the west coast. It happens, Brautigan, it happens. Congrats, KGM. This is a new generation, and they got skillz like the earth has a nervous eye.

Now everyone go have a beer on me. Relax. Travel the word. Find your throne.



3 responses to “Kendra Grant Malone vs. Richard Brautigan in an Imagist Drunken Throwdown.

  1. i used to write grants for people when i was in college for money and my favorite joke to make was “WELL, my middle name IS grant!”

    no one ever laughed and it made me want to kill myself

    p.s. that poem was about my sister

  2. Kendra Grant Malone’s poem was terrible.

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