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1983-2015
tearing the rag off the bush again
FROM THENETHERWORLD Special to the Corpse from JJ Phillips PDF E-mail
Brautigan’s Brains
 
Brains blasted there
upon the page
gray matter gobbed
blood of the poet congealed
this grotesque palimpsest
last words concealed
beneath the blood
shattered neurons
glial cells unglued
glopped, splattered

A text of rage coagulated
there upon the page.

Axons impel thought to take
that fatal fiery leap
across synapse into act
fiction into fact.

Atoms smash against the skull
the neural net tattered warp and woof
the brain that strings the words extruded
globbed, fragmented, spattered
last words occluded by the final proof

The text of rage coagulated
there upon the page.



J.J. Phillips worked with the Brautigan papers at The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berleley. In a message about the poem, she added: "I know you know that Brautigan blew his brains out, literally blew his mind.  What you might not be aware of is that he blew his brains out all over pages of his last manuscript... I handled them, archived them, ran my hands over his desiccated brain matter on numerous occasions, though at first I had no idea what I was touching because the Library said nothing and even denied what became all too apparent after I eliminated the other possibilities of what this strange stuff could be (I’m not unfamiliar with such things, and my eyes didn’t deceive me).   The coroner’s report confirmed my suspicions. I see what’s on these pages as something of a completely different order than coffee stains, cigarette burns, the tomato seeds that Josephine Miles idly spat onto her mss., even drops of spittle, blood, semen, and the like.  With Brautigan, these are the actual physical remnants of brain tissue, blood splatters, and cerebral fluid of the very brain that gave birth to the ideas he had and the words he wrote, now creating its own narrative on top of those words; and of course that act insured he’d never think or write another word.  Those pages constitute both a palimpsest and something incomprehensibly more.  The two ‘expressive’ mediums, the mingling of flesh and word-made-flesh, merge into one unbelievably complex and believably simple text of death. 
 
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