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Bob Brault, American poet

Born in the shadow of Bunker Hill in Chelsea Naval Hospital on George Washington's birthday in 1952, I arrived just in time to get my corpsman daddy out of getting shipped off to Pork Chop Hill with the marines. My babyhood home, Charlestown, was an Irish slum that has since been torn down. The Standells wrote a love song about the neighborhood in 1966 called "Dirty Water." My first poem was published in the Boston Globe when I was in 5th grade on the comic pages. It was called "Porcupine from Paris" and went like this:

Hello Americans, one and all!
I'm a porcupine named Butterball.
Yesterday, I left Paree
To see the world in a Model T.
I started speeding on Route 10
And ended up in the Chicago pen.
I stayed there for one hot day,
And when I got out it was May.
I headed my car to Dixieland
To play a flute in a Confederate band
But on the way I got home sick,
So I headed for France lickety-split.
For reckless driving behind the wheel
I got life in the Bastille.
I think I'll stay here till I die,
So to you all I say ,"Good-bye".

As Mr. Dylan sez, "20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the dayshift." Worked a lot of jobs: picked corn and tomatoes on a truck farm in the Connecticut valley in junior high. First after school job was as a page in Hartford Public Library. Spent breaks listening to Alan Lomax's Library of Congress blues recordings and the early recordings of Louis Armstrong's Hot 5. Hardest part of the job was waking up the winos in general reading and sending them out into the winter night. In addition to working in a bunch of libraries, I've also been an industrial engraver, security guard, dispatcher, bartender, quality control lab tech for Pepsi, inspected Tomahawk cruise missles in El Cajon, watched Captain Kangeroo with the barely employable at Dixie Labor Pool waiting for the $2 bill for lunch that came with each brutal gig. Spent 7 months in the Navy: boot camp in San Diego; sang with Bluejacket Choir; avionics in Memphis; AWOL in New Orleans writing for "Broken Barriers", an underground newspaper that provided press passes for southern rock concerts, Allman Bros. In the Superdome, etc. Played music on Bourbon Street for the 50 cent plates of red beans and rice at Buster Holmes and cheap Dixie beer at Milanese grocery. Got processed out of the Nav. Got the good janitor and later library gig at Loyola University. BA in English. Bartending in the Vieux Carre. Lazy days drinking coffee and smoking in the rotting outhouse in the jungle-like courtyard of Rue Royale Imports. Beat night poetry recitations. First marriage and flight to California for 18 years of surfin' sufari and psychedelic remembrances of days of future past. Met Sandy at Jose Murphy's on a beer and margarita enchanted evening when the grunion were running and got married a year later [wife number 2] Had Vincent on Father's Day when I was 40. Emily came along 3 years later. Last year, grew tired of the faded glory of the California Dream. Found a gig on the internet doing document/delivery at Eli Lilly and moved to Indianapolis, not far from the wife's childhood home in Shelbyville. Still write, play music and currently work Circulation at the IU School of Medicine Library. After all is said and done, it's real important to retain one's sense of wonder and see the magic all around us.

 

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