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Postmodern Village
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The Everlasting Bean
By E.W. Wilder

My work as the editor of Bean Newton’s oeuvre have at times been hindered by the author’s posthumous nature. Recent charges by, among others, the noted British scholar Lord Chesius Phartley, maintain that my work has actually been enhanced by the fact that Newton is no longer with us -- and therefore no longer able to defend himself nor explain his purposes. Phartley argues that, rather than many of Newton’s poems being left unfinished by his untimely death in 1998, his works were “fully-formed post-modern statements about the state of unfinishedness” itself¹.

I will admit that his arguments are cogent. Given Newton’s perspective on the “devolving, craptastic, fin de siecle, with a dose of diverticulitis and Lil’ Debbie worship cesspole (sic)”² that was America, a purposefully unfinished poem might make a certain amount of sense. However, if there is one thing Newton was not about, it was sense as such. And the idea of his work being formalistically polemic tends to be downplayed by clearly finished pieces, such as “Beanball” below, which evince a sense of what the unfinished works would have been had the bus been a little later that day or his blue Toyota been a little more quick. It would be inconsistent for Newton to finish a given work and then arbitrarily leave another work undone simply to make a statement.

To the credit of Phartley et al., however, Newton was not especially known for consistency either.


Beanball
by Bean Newton

I

And why not pinball? Let’s eat cookies and stand on our heads. Let’s press our faces against the cool tile, knock down windows with stones. It’s all godly: God made worms and worms am good, even the ones what drive cars. Let them be - structured as they are, tooth on bone, lipid chain or protease gush, neurotransmitters washing glial cells, springing action into electrical hum. Let them come, the worms from other-spaces, the golden rays of God’s gun melting human resistance into holiness. What was Superman but an accident of the Sun?


II

The sun shines more brightly on the rich. We know this from the commercials for Lexi, the icons that, bronzed by chemical bath in the processing, graze the pages of Cosmo-Vani‘zaar. Lick them and they become the tongue that tells you, sleeping, what statue you are not, what stature you do not occupy on the pederasters in Plato’s bar on 5th. The hipless need not apply.


III

The hipless form their own sky, occupy their own Pantheon in IT departments and College Bowl. We shall study them, one day, name theories after. Art ended as soon as it began to be cool. What was, was one day a sluice of wonks in paint, garrets full of bad smells and fuzzy wine. Marketing models predicted fewer former college students would be poor, stinky, booze-addicted and stupid. I’d like to think it was all the fault of the Fonz. But I knew better. He was just a mechanic.


IV

I’m just an anxious melancholic. Admit it: you’re anxious too. It’s the ping-pong ball flavors this season; they’ve gone to bleu cheese, piña colada and what we used to just call “yellow.” I can’t stand it. What happened to champagne and bar-b-que? How can I fix my poems without the help of a little, hollow, plastic ball? Next, you’ll tell me Tony the Tiger doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. How can they not be grrreat?


V

The fried grease rods at McYoder’s are perfect. Smiling children on the television told me so. SugarFizz is the only thing to wash them down with. Frog Flies for d-zert - bone appleteet. In wino-veri-taste.


VI

The very taste of flashing lights and thumping bumpers I adore. Agape never felt so good; as my gratuity slides down the slot, the balls bump up, the silver balls that flash into existence as you pay, disappear with the flubbing fingers. Ding-dong narrowly along the ridge between feel and see. A bump, a tilt is a fulfillment, a hard-won, a loss. Sore fingers, how cauliflower is your brainstem? How steamy the plume of cord your core-text has become. Read on, little swing. Loom in, swoon on, wank out.


1. Phartley, Lord Chesius. “On the Scrambled Oeuvre of Bean Newton: Omelette or Cracked Shell?” Simpleton 14 (2005). 125-56.

2. Newton, Thomas “Bean.” The Collected Letters and Electronic Mail of Bean Newton. Ed. E.W. Wilder. New York: Purewater Press, expected date of publication 2006.