R  A  L  P H
  The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Volume XXX, Number 3

Mid-Summer 2002

Embalming Mom,
Secular Wholeness,
Burden of Ashes

H. L. Mencken on American Literature
Part I
"I emerge from Hemingway's book
cherishing a hope that bullfighting
will be introduced at Harvard and Yale,
or, if not at Harvard or Yale,
then at least in the Lynching Belt of the South,
where it would offer stiff and perhaps
ruinous competition to the frying of poor blackamoors."

Part II
"I have frequently advocated cleaner and more rational devices,
that would dissuade them from crime or make them
incapable of it, and yet leave free play for
their courage and enterprise in useful fields, e. g.,
flogging for petty robbers and thieves,
the amputation of the right forefinger for pickpockets,
the ducking-stool for Methodist bishops,
deportation to the Dry Tortugas for Prohibition agents."

Doctors and Discoveries: Lives that Created Today's Medicine
"So we'll drink we'll drink we'll drink to Lydia Pinkham,
Savior of the human race,
She invented a Vegetable Compound,
Efficacious in every way.
Now Mrs. Jones, she had her problems:
Couldn't hardly take a pee ---
So she drank she drank she drank six bottles of Compound,
Now they pipes her to the sea."

The Officers' Ward
"'Nothing personal' the director says several times,
after which, in one of the few angry moments in the book,
Fournier says, I would have happily
stuck my tongue out at him through my nose."

Great Reviews of the Past
The Architecture of Howard Van Doren Shaw
"He was the godzilla of the 1900s building boom.
In simple matters of scale and design,
his structures were always out of kilter.
He would mix, willy-nilly, with no sense whatsoever,
gables, Doric columns, medieval motifs, hipped roofs, and
what he called squat columns ---
which look just like squat columns."

A Girl Who Grew Up in Hell and Emerged Whole,
Wallace Stevens and His Poetry, and
Outlaw Woman

Raw Meat Speed-Bumps
Part I

"There is a new Mexican national pastime,
almost as popular as bullfighting and soccer.
It is sitting in a motionless car on the Mexican City freeway
with the motor running, breathing in great quantities
of lifegiving smog and wishing you were in someplace nice.
Like Los Angeles."
Part II

"He said that in Oaxaca
there is a special name for dogs
that sleep in the road and never move fast enough
to get out of your way when you zoom through town.
We call them topes de carne.
Raw meat speed-bumps."

Meet General Grant

"He was a ham as a tactician,
and habitually wasted his men.
If he won battles, it was because
he had the larger battalions, and favored
the primitive device of heaving them into action,
callously, relentlessly, cruelly,

Isadora Duncan and Aimée Semple McPherson
"She was attracted to Los Angeles, it appears,
by the climate. The Bible Belt was sending
a steady stream of its rheumatic mortgage sharks in that direction,
and she simply followed. The result, as everyone knows,
was a swift and roaring success. The town has more morons in it
than the whole State of Mississippi, and thousands of them
had nothing to do save gape at the movie dignitaries
and go to revivals."

How to Spell
"While he talked
I kept my hands under the table
And tightened the screws I could reach.
I was scared the table would collapse ---
The salt shaker would rain its bad luck on the floor
And Mother would crumble her face into
Her apron of butchered flowers."

The Bombing of Serbia
"Here is where the boys
fell down under water, slid down, couldn't
get back up. Even dying, maybe the river slime
seemed grotesque, maybe they feared
to touch their naked feet to bottom. Or maybe
it was a great black thrash. Who knows
what colors there are for the drowning."

RALPH's Poetry,
Cheese and Rat Turds, and


A complete list of all books reviewed in RALPH,
arranged by title, including author, subject, and publisher,
plus a listing of all readings, articles and poems
that have appeared since 1994.

of our most notorious reviews
as collected in the hard-copy

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