New Belleview Press
Beer Songs for the Lonely, a poetry collection from Austin-ite François Pointeau (Denizens of Austin will know him from Whip In, others from his radio program, Writing on the Air.), gets my vote for best title ever. A reflective collection about the necessity of adaptation with a trademark twist in the last stanza, Beer Songs’ subjects refuse to go gentle into that good night.
Perhaps my favorite poem in this collection is in the first section, Not Drowning, VI:
Something strange and wonderful
is happening to me.
They will be jealous.
They will not understand
- Please have the decency to die
at the correct time.
It will be a communal
judgment of the community monster
to be disposed of
as long as it’s agreed upon as being
the right thing to do for the greater good.
The public square.
Shouldn’t one have the decency to drown,
to disappear inconspicuously?
Drown in whatever fashion you’d like,
however please drown
whenever you are meant to drown.
As you might expect from the title, there are not a few drunks in this collection, some just trying to make it through the night, some seeking oblivion. There is a sad humor in “Fragmented dialogue,” a conversation taking place in a bar on a rainy day.
Pointeau transforms the prosaic into a sensory buffet in “The market”:
is the full circle of life chaotic
from birth to death.
An étalage of produce and meats which
rises and falls, alive
with hands that dip from all sides,
fresh and dried and laid about to see,
and taste and purchase..
It becomes comic almost:
wholesale and half-priced and belly-up
It is an orgy of old women closing their eyes
as they feel an orange or a camembert.
Beer Songs for the Lonely is Pointeau’s debut collection and, in the way of debut collections, it is uneven. However there is much to appreciate in this slim volume. The poet is equally adept with The Big Stuff and the mundane and his is a fresh, unexpected voice. I want to know when the next collection is due to be released.