Mule Kick Blues: And Last Poems
Author: Michael McClure
Publishers: City Lights (2021)
A powerful collection of new work written during the last years of McClure's life, Mule Kick Blues was readied for publication before the poet's death in May 2020. Its opening section gives us a rare view into his thoughts about his own mortality, particularly in the moving sequence "Death Poems." The book takes its title from an innovative series of homages to blues musicians like Leadbelly and Howlin' Wolf, and evoking Kerouac’s concept of "blues" poems. Featuring shout-outs to lifelong friends like Philip Whalen, Diane di Prima, and Gary Snyder, the long poem "Fragments of Narcissus," and the eco-logical and zen-infused themes for which he is known, Mule Kick Blues is a definitive statement by one of the most significant American poets of the last sixty years. Introduction by poet Garrett Caples, McClure’s editor at City Lights.
"What a beautiful book. … I can’t think of any contemporary artist who explores the interior, the inside-out of the dharma as magically and freely as McClure except maybe for David Lynch. Were they friends?"
"This legendary rockstar eco-poet’s gemlike modal structures will keep humming while 'black ants circle a bubble of honey.' A final performance from a master poet."
"These pyramids and lozenges of crystal and light point in all directions and pierce you with the sobbing foghorn lobs of the ever-morphing ripples of the San Andreas Fault Ensemble. Long live McClure and the Libratonic Scales of Interspecies Justice!"
"His dedication to the pursuit of liberation in craft and subject matter reveals him to be a powerhouse of wisdom, love, joy. In this book, his ferocity and tenderness intertwine. Here are poems of improvisational intensity. And they are great gifts to us."