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This review is taken from PN Review 116, Volume 23 Number 6, July - August 1997.

CLOSING THE SHOW HAYDEN CARRUTH, Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, Poems, 1991-1995 (Copper Canyon Press)

Most people, poets included, don't handle their own eschatology too well. Like assault troops winding up, Dylan Thomas's bombastic 'Rage, rage…' is the preferred bluff, covering the gut-churning fear of Larkin's 'Aubade'. But between these poles of rhetoric and submission, it is perhaps possible, as Hayden Carruth suggests in Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, to go out in style.

Facing the end seems to have loosened Carruth up, even to the point of giddiness. Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey is more relaxed, conversational, and vernacular than his previous books which I have always found rather architectural in structure and orotund in language; the 'short poems' in his Collected Short Poems tend to be long. Here, the mood is elegy (with some wonderful love poems) laced with anger and a. refusal to give up. Some of this is too didactic. His two-liner 'The Last Poem in the World' reads, 'Would I write it if I could/Bet your glitzy ass I would.' This is bragging out of fear (and that 'glitzy' doesn't really worko. When Carruth gets angry at how the world works, his spleen overpowers him. 'In Georgetown', he writes of Washington's power-brokers: 'Fucking each other's wives in dens and laundry rooms and pantries./This is called a party. Some are Democrats, some Republicans, all are fuckers.' This rant will not change Washington and adds nothing to poetry.

Fortunately, most of Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey consists of moments, like drops teetering before they fall, capturing a transitory fullness in ...


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