A New Eclecticism: Five Poems by Bean Newton

E.W. Wilder

Issue 2 * Spring 2000

It was probably from the Fall of 1994 to the Summer of 1995 that Bean Newton entered a phase of poetic eclecticism; drawing upon everything from Pop-Culture to the Bible to ancient memories, Newton began exploring forms both short and long, lyric and narrative. There is some evidence that during this time Newton, writing and performing under the name Whip Shitback, was a regular of open mike readings in coffee houses and bookstores in and around the Kansas towns of Wichita, Manhattan, Lawrence, and in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Some in those areas that I have interviewed, including one who wishes to be known as "Agent B," have attested to the above; however, the fluid nature of such loose confederations of writers and artists makes certainty difficult. According to "Agent B": "Yeah, man, Whip Shitback used to come in this place and, like, jam, man. He wasn't like the other ones, though. Sort of a weirdo. Kept to himself. Not a student or anything."

We do have evidence of at least one of Newton's poems from this period, "Porch, Chair," appearing with the byline Whip Shitback in the renowned underground journal Tongue in early 1995. Unfortunately, I have been unable to positively link this specific poem to this specific period with any certainty due to Newton's consistent failure to date the works in his portfolio.

Below is a short series that I believe represent Newton's budding eclecticism during the period of '94-'95, beginning with the aforementioned "Porch, Chair." -- E.W. Wilder

Porch, Chair

I'm sure they would seem facile now,
and not worth telling: those lies we told
around the porch at your friend Jen's.
A beer or two the setting, well,
the sun we couldn't keep from setting-
didn't bother to correct. The bricks
around that core of fire were pretty
well set by then-a metaphor I should
be embarrassed to have owned-but those
were just the lies we told.


18 Sides Monster Cream Wagon

Jumbo shrimp death-knell 42
showboat siderial death boat
motivated monstrous long term fallout-
pink paper on pink print-reverso mumbo
digital jumbo-this love we love, love like
the loosest love the worst of the knuckled under
view, sidewalls, whitewalls, double-platinum-spoked
mags, hopper hydraulics, lowrider Aztec-metallic
paintjob groovy; spastic neon
and that's just jefe's shirt, booooy.

Find your center, baby; be the ball.


Big M

I suppose I believe the Matriarchy. She controls the gods and tells us when to rain. I live and die by the stars She shines upon me.

The gravel is cemented underfoot. My mitochondria are ruled by the Matriarchy. The moose comes down from the mountain to fite and fuck. He doesn't want to: it is compulsion beyond control. The Matriarchy pulls the male moose down from the mountain. He wants to die.

I want to die. I don't blame the Matriarchy. I don't blame nobody but myself. I blame myself for the sake of myself: corm, leaf, branch: it doesn't matter. Leaves wither, as well they should.

Beavers badgers, gashes, slits: Cole and Rita talk about The Lack. All of our metaphors are empty.

I don't believe the ant thinks of himself the same way we do.

When your life is to drone, to carry your bits of cake and gummy wads of spilled soda to feed the queen's minions, who cares about being who you gotta be?

Genetically, of course, I am expendable; that don't confront me none, neither.


Why I Like Recess

  1. Because it would occur like clockwork: the inevitable machinations of the cosmos, a sun orbiting galactic center.
  2. Because the grass, when parched, smelled nice.
  3. Because Jeff J. and I had a TARDIS in the disguise of an old plastic barrel. The primitive indigenous population of whatever planet we would alight upon would rudely commandeer our craft at each the end of every episode and fill it full of their basketballs.
  4. It never rained, as I remember.
  5. It was sometimes too hot; it was rarely too scary.
  6. The blond brick of which the building was constructed had begun to come uncemented. We could hide treasures behind loose bricks.
  7. I like pancakes.
  8. Because the airplanes, unencumbered by the laws of physics, would hang there, white or blue or olive-drab, as they floated into McConnell AFB.
  9. Because war machines were still a romance.
  10. Because the water from the fountain was so cold.
  11. Because, as a child, you are still immune from a society that values only size.
  12. Because of red, blue, green, the oxidized black of the steel jungle-gym; because of dangerous toys and denuded tetherball poles.
  13. Because worry was so frequent I had no chance to notice.
  14. Because, at my old school, my friend Dan and I, along with Matt H. and Matt I., managed to pull one of those tetherball poles out of the ground -great wad of concrete anchor and all. It was like a weapon-if only we could've wielded it.
  15. Because with monkish devotion I studied the Three Boys: Abercrombie, Bartholomew, Christopher.
  16. Because the carpet in the library was blue and smelled like urine.
  17. Because Lisa Legg., my 6th grade teacher, was the first woman I ever had a crush on.
  18. Because 15 years later, I'm sure she's still appropriately named.
  19. Because I could indulge my intellect without the dizzying blur of mathematics. This would be my only chance to do so.
  20. Because this was the first time I was misinterpreted.
  21. Because of clover, hard-packed ground, dew.
  22. Because introspection is not egomania.
  23. Because posters of the cosmos lack depth.
  24. Because of bad hair.
  25. Because I knew what "cum" was, but was still shocked when those girls did, pretending as they were with the vanilla pudding.
  26. Girls aren't supposed to know about that in the 6th grade.
  27. Because, at 11 years of age, I was already washed up.
  28. Because of bleached blonds, platinum blonds, dirty blonds, Victoria H. and Vanessa P.; admiring women is not a crime.
  29. Because I could sit and stare for hours and still get good grades.
  30. Because of fruit roll-ups.
  31. Because of clouds, the Brandenburg Concerti.
  32. Because my erasable pens gave off fumes, something like ammonia, something like napthelene, and slowly destroyed my ability to imagine.
  33. The proper way to rid yourself of an Arcturan 7-Eyed Beast is to throw dynamite straight down his gullet. The shrapnel is much like spring rain except for the bits of silicated bone.
  34. Because quiet was quiet, dark was dark.
  35. Because there was no such thing as Jury Duty.
  36. Because I was soon to fly to Frankfurt, Germany, and be whisked on a three-week tour of Western Europe and two nations behind the Iron Curtain.
  37. Because along the rural road where I lived you could find the occasional Playboy, defenestrated from a pickup truck by a guilty redneck, caught philandering with his fist.
  38. Because of Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, and all the other Os.
  39. Because my mother, to save her life, cannot cook beef.


Bean: Naked

Patio Girls booming on the jambox,
curlers in her hair: thousand junkies
passed-out in the park: Coltrane barking
"catch me if you dare." The Greeks, of course,
and the Japanese, went by syllable count:
so much the better for them.

Shake from McDonald's cools my crotch,
spastic kids across the way;
the cash is on the counter, honey,
enough for us to play. Those pipes!

You sure can-

Sing it darling, sing it; make my poor ass feel
as beautiful as you look, make the lions and the lambs
lay, and steal away together.

The brook don't babble, and the brook don't sing;
the brook don't do nothing, but my poor heart sting.

Science has 17 different names for the Chinese elm.