My poem, Hamburger Cemetery (on this blog) was written about Richard Brautigan. I discovered him in high school, introduced by my creative writing teacher. He had quite a following in those days despite what Ferlinghetti said about him being a minor poet. I wrote that poem after I discovered Brautigan had died by a self inflicted gunshot.
I had lost touch with his work for years as he drifted off the shelf and I drifting away from poetry. A few years back, I saw on the internet he had passed. So, what do poets do when another poet dies?–we write. I had struggled with the original ending —
I wish he had been hungry
for a hamburger instead.
A.D. Winans told me it was too easy for him…it is easy. It may have even been cute, but not the close I wanted. It may have been too Brautigan. Never try to out Brautigan, Brautigan–same thing with Bukowski. It doesn’t feel the same. It becomes forced like internet sonnets.
The new ending relates on different levels and goes well with “Trout Fishing in America,” a book Ferlinghetti could have never written (I was told).
So, in revising the ending, I came up with the “Making Clouds” poem (on this blog too). Another poem about him. But, it stood better by itself rather than tagged on the end of “Hamburger Cemetery.”
Finally, in the middle of sleep last night, a new ending to Hamburger it came to me. I wrote it down by my bed. I revised it seven times before I reached:
We should be taught the pull
of a trophy fish
rod tip bending
line stretched tight
Some Brautigan fans like the original ending better. So, I guess if you write for writers, you are always revising.