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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of English


The Missing Lamp


This collection of poems, The Missing Lamp, might better be called nothing, or No Nothing, as this poet often vowed not to write about anything he knew, yet just as often he found himself walking down Westwood Blvd. under the artificial day of the LA streetlights and taking note of surreal coincidences––the friends that slipped into his poems in the form of shadows, the uncanny resemblance between his laugh and the mechanical cackle of Alfred Jarry’s baboon. There is never a shortage of light in this city––even the stars are unemployed––and thus the poems led their poet here to Redlands, CA, or there to the Tyrolean Alps, to places neither here nor there, till he could find enough darkness to lose sight of his ideas. They led him to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a fictional ‘pataphysical poet named Julien Torma, to meditate on madness and homelessness, to consider the pointlessness of boring day jobs and the creation of the world, to hypothesize that Paradise is nothing more than an Alpine resort where you’re snowed in and alone . . . It’s a nicely furnished place, Paradise. You read this collection as you wander its rooms with an oil lamp in hand. The poems act as your guide. They direct your eye to portraits of a Goddess who won’t show her face, a Swedish Queen whose granddaughter works a cash register, and an old woman who fills her vanishing world with beautifully concocted memories. They lead you into the room where you’re sleeping and they alert you of the room’s trap door before extinguishing your lamp. You drop the book and feel around in the sudden dark, drag your feet to locate that trap door. You’ve never been so aware of your breath: You’re breathing so hard you hardly notice the creaking of these poems as they gradually unhinge from reality.

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