Platypus Press is a new boutique publisher from the UK focusing on poetry, and I recently had the privilege of reading two books from their small catalogue of titles.

sausalitoSausalito Poems, 1959-1961 by L. G. Coreycovers the poet’s years in that small but storied enclave of San Francisco. As he says in his preface:

“These poems grew out of the years I spent on the streets, in the bars, squatting in derelict houseboats, and getting high with my friends and lovers in Sausalito, California, during its halcyon days. I was 25 then; I’m 81 now.”

The poems in this collection reflect the charmed imagination of an irascible dreamer looking back at his glory days. They are at times perhaps too direct, too unfiltered by poetic refraction, but they are peppered with wild imagery and clever turns of phrase, as in Phantom Houseboats:

“buying thoughts
of sounds inside the walls,
of unkind strangers, and
of wolves blowing down the dream.”
– page 21

The imagery of the collection blends the wildness of nature, the dark mischief of classic fairy tales, and high mythology of the Bible, all distorted through the crass and gritty lens of early 1960s California, as in Brief Encounter:

“‘There were cinders in my eyes
and God between my legs,
and spittle on my chin
and you laughing,

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in!’”
– page 43

I can easily imagine these poems being read aloud, and that is perhaps their best setting. One pictures Corey intoning the following poem with just the right blend of wistful sincerity and winking impishness:

“Shredded newspapers
litter the floor
where I slept last night

and dreamed
of other rooms,
other voices,

other things
I should have done,
but did not do to you

in the closet.”
– page 31

The collection does, as I said, lack a certain poetic polish, but I imagine so did Sausalito in 1959. It’s an enjoyable and brief look at a few years that indelibly impacted this poet.


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