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“Hunter S. Thompson,” Three Poems by Bruce Craven

In Arts & Letters, Creative Writing, Humanities, Poetry on August 26, 2020 at 6:45 am

Bruce Craven is a member of the Columbia Business School Executive Education faculty in New York City. In addition to directing and teaching in a variety of executive programs, he teaches graduate business students his popular elective Leadership Through Fiction.  His book Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones, was published in March 2019 by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.  The book is currently being translated into Russian and Turkish. He wrote the novel Fast Sofa (1993) which was published in Japanese and German. He also co-wrote the script for the film adaptation, starring Jennifer Tilly, Jake Busey and Crispin Glover. His collection of poetry, Buena Suerte in Red Glitter will be published in 2019 by Red Dirt Press. He lives with his wife and two sons in the Coachella Valley in California.


“Never mind, I said, we’re responsible
people.” Hunter & his attorney tested
the Great Red Shark for stress factors. Rental
Man asked, “Are you fellas drinking?” Arrested
will be the fate for too many literal fans,
but our heroes “ride this strange torpedo
all the way out to the end.” Enraged, they stand
against the forces of Old and Evil. Gonzo
is the term: protagonist journalists
who make beasts of themselves to hide their pain.
But what is that high-water mark looking west?
Missing the sixties, Thompson’s typing blames
the American Dream for failing. He attacks
our leaders, ourselves, our hope broken, rolled back.


My teenage bookstore? The Raven. The valley?
San Gabriel. Mid-Seventies. Our town?
La Canada, still in 213. This alley
Mom pointed at…solved her challenge. She found
how the super-market experience
could improve. Her son could go, pick a book:
Mom’s deal. I was delirious:
aisles of groceries swapped for books! I’d look
at sports, sci-fi, heroic, epic. “One paperback!
she insisted. Cool! But why didn’t Tolkien
write more? Skimmed fantasy, attacked
the Hunter S. Thompson books. McGovern
& the ’72 Election? I’d gone door-to-door
barely twelve for George: Stop the Vietnam War!


“I remember saying something like: ‘I
feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should
drive…” Hunter’s novel won’t ever die.
His dream both truth and amped fiction. White hood
of Pete’s Camaro trembling at 120
miles per hour. Not yet twenty-one. Blast
of desert air. Huge bats shrieking: Freedom! Empty
highway pointing us towards Needles. Toss
sleeping bags on the sand beside the Colorado
River. We never had ether. Constraints
on cash tempered our decadence. Beer pillowed
us under kaleidoscopic stars. We baked;
found a Brit hitching, skin so red…so white.
Drove home to a party, where Pete started a fight.


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