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The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  2,073 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Brautigan's poetic style is often surreal, often tender, with touches of humor. The poems are written in clear, straightforward free verse. Here is an example of his style from "The Chinese Checker Players": "When I was six years old/I played Chinese checkers/with a woman/who was ninety-three years old."

Recurrent themes in the book include love, sex, loss & loneliness.
Paperback, 108 pages
Published November 5th 1970 (first published 1968)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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lisa z
Sep 22, 2008 lisa z rated it liked it
Recommended to lisa z by: the boy with the words
Shelves: poetry
i was 17, i had dropped out of high school that day. i walked out of the cold dead building with a sense of complete freedom and sarcasm. i loved telling everyone there and my parents that this education would clearly not do, the beginning of a litany of bad decisions i would make over the course of the next several years. i was convinced there was something more moving and educational out there for me though i had no clue of where or how to go for such things. it was the first perfectly warm ...more
Jul 20, 2013 Julia rated it it was amazing
Brautigan quickly became my favorite poet as soon as I read a few poems from this book. I know some people do not like the poems that seem "lazy" but those are the poems that make me love him even more. There are some that will really make you nod your head in contentment, and there are some that will make you cock your head to the side and stare. He proves that you can truly write a poem about anything. Everything is poetry as long as you think it is. Some are so simple, and the mere fact that ...more
Jul 16, 2011 S. rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2011
Of the load of books I read on my 2-week vacation this summer, this is the one I enjoyed most. It's a collection of mostly short poems that are overall funny and endearing. Anyone who writes a poem called "Haiku Ambulance" has already scored points with me. I also like the "versus" poems - "The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster," "General Custer versus the Titanic," etc. I like the "Galilee Hitch-Hiker" poems and also "The Wheel" and "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment." My very ...more
Alan Chen
Feb 07, 2015 Alan Chen rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I don't know enough about poetry to judge it but I enjoy reading the nearly 100 poems in this book. Some of them I feel like he's just f&*king with me and some were really beautiful. Like all poetry, they definitely need to be read aloud. I like the cadence and meter as the lines roll out of my mouth. I get a feel of the type of guy he is. He's beat, he like to drink and carouse, he loves the small towns in the south that he vists and the people that he meets. It's deeper than my ...more
Courtney Johnston
Apr 07, 2013 Courtney Johnston rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
Nine of my favourite Richard Brautigan poems (god, how I love this collection)


When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside of you.

From THE GALILEE HITCHHIKER (Part 4: The Flowerburgers)

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Fransisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, "Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it."
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
Navid Lambert-Shirzad
Mar 30, 2013 Navid Lambert-Shirzad rated it liked it
Shelves: the-americans
A friend of mine had a glance at this book and said something that gave me an idea: if they had twitter back then, Brautigan's tweets would be like the poems you find in this book!

I usually don't read poetry. I started reading this book because it is a Brautigan book and found quite a few of its poems brilliant. As nothing is perfect, this book has plain and mediocre poems as well.
M. Sarki
Jun 04, 2013 M. Sarki rated it it was ok
I read this book again today after more than a thirty year distance from the last time we visited. Not so hotsy totsy. But it was "ok". Unfortunately, by reading this a second time around old Richard lost a star in my ranking. I think his novels will hold up better.
Jan 03, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite all-time poetry reads. Brautigan's poetic worldview is unique, uncluttered, and remarkably non-pretentious.... and sticks to your ribs all the more for it.
Maya Day
Dec 07, 2015 Maya Day rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Best poetry I've ever read. His metaphors borderline between completely bizarre to beautiful. Sometimes hit or miss, but when it hits, it hits so hard.
A mostly superb and seminal collection by Brautigan.

Brautigan's poetic style is deceptively simple, singular and charming. At times it carries the simply dignity of a haiku, at others it's a small surrealistic or dadaist masterpiece.

The Pill Vs. The Springhill Mine Disaster is essentially a collection of the poems that Brautigan had written up until the late 60s and, indeed, showcases some of his strongest work.

I have heard that Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork contains even stronger work and
Amanda Liston
I live in the Twentieth Century
and you lie here beside me. You
were unhappy when you fell asleep.
There was nothing I could do about
it. I felt helpless. Your face
is so beautiful that I cannot stop
to describe it, and there's nothing
I can do to make you happy while
you sleep.
Simon Robs
Aug 15, 2016 Simon Robs rated it liked it
A book of poems, the best of which (for me) are the titles funny, clever, quirky. They are mostly love poems and/or paeans to his long blonde lover. There was a fun series of nine or so poems with Baudelaire as central character; and, a few with Hamlet, Ophelia, too. It is a Beat style collection more free flow riffs than anything. The kind of poems to pass around between friends reading aloud at campfire whilst getting high on whatever. Just fun.
Jun 02, 2016 Ju$tin rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry


some of these were good-great

most were just ok-bad
Oct 23, 2016 R. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Rewriting one poem to make it funnier...

The Flowerburgers

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Francisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, "Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it."
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, "I said I wanted
onions on it."
Nate D
Am I much of a poetry reader?
No, I am not.
But this, nonetheless, is easy to enjoy.
Aug 11, 2012 Sienna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
It's been a decade since I devoured the bulk of Richard Brautigan's oeuvre, but that doesn't stop me from realizing he'd have made a face at anyone referring to his collected works as an "oeuvre." Sorry, dude. All my copies are back in the States, unreadable and ostensibly unloved, boxed or shelved, probably collecting dust bunnies — attractive, good-humored bunnies who've got some nerve congregating on out-of-reach books. My favorites are the old Dell paperbacks in bright, sometimes slightly of ...more
Oct 07, 2012 A.M. rated it it was amazing
Wondering what the title of this amazing collection of poetry means? Hmmm? Well, wonder no more:

The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster
When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside of you.

When I read this, I burst out laughing. And that is what I love about Brautigan - he is a Zen master of poetry, capturing the humor, innocence, sadness and absurdity of a given moment, an object or an abstract thought. Interestingly, another reason I love Brautigan
Feb 14, 2010 Grady rated it it was amazing
Memories of People's Poet

At a time when the complexities of existence shape even our entertainment, our art, and our literature, it is refreshing to return to the world of Richard Brautigan, (1935 - 1984) a welfare child who reflected on his humble beginnings throughout the 1960s as the people's poet. His novels and his poems deal in beautiful simplicities, spare statements that express the ordinary daily events of life, capturing these moments with words so clear that they leave no opportunity
Jan 22, 2012 Kirstie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of poetry
This rating doesn't really give this collection of poems true justice or capture the heart of the matter...some of them are just brilliant-"Death is a Beautiful Car Parked Only," "Insane Asylum" (esp. pt.8), "The Symbol" "In a Cafe," and my very favorite "Cyclops" Some of them are more short prose or passing thoughts vs. poems and others of them are glimpses at women more than anything else. But, for as many beautiful brilliant poems there are, there are also some inane ones that bring the ...more
Bill Keefe
Feb 22, 2015 Bill Keefe rated it it was ok
I'm going to start giving out more 2's. I think far more books that I've read are ok, rather than good. And ok is, well, ok.

Something is trite in the better part of Brautigan's poetry. Much of it is slapdash, "this is cute" verse. But most it is simply forgetable. What Brautigan does with images and fancy in his best prose and some of these poems is bring you into a moment and light that moment in a moving personal way.

As a poet he carries this off less frequently and less successfully. I think
Aug 02, 2012 Dustin rated it liked it
Brautigan occupies a tiny and strange nook on the trajectory of great American writers. Not quite a beat writer, but not a hippie. I first got interested by his way surreal stuff in Trout Fishing in America. I found this and read it at the Beach and then at home when I was supposed to be working on something. And it did just what I was hoping it would. A quick scramble of the brains, like a lobotomy, and I was able to move on and focus on whatever dreary mental task I had lined up for the day. ...more
Apr 06, 2008 Craig rated it liked it
My first taste of Brautigan. I picked up a couple of his books up at a recent Friends of the Library book sale. This one is a very quick read -- all very short poems. There were a few I hated, quite a few that I was indifferent to, and a few that I absolutely loved. Some of these tiny little poems hold an immense power.

Probably my two favorites:


I watched a man in a cafe fold a slice of bread
as if he were folding a birth certificate or looking
at the photograph of a dead lover.

Sep 15, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
I am so thankful for stumbling upon this book of poetry. I really enjoyed reading certain poems, but it was soooo difficult to find poetry I genuinely liked. I would sift through volumes and volumes of anthologies, but the majority of them always just sounded pretentious or boring or both. Then while looking for Trout Fishing in America, I picked up the copy that included three Brautigan stories including The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster. It changed my whole perspective on what a ...more
Mar 18, 2010 Erikaaaa rated it liked it
It's hard to rate this, but i do love these poems. They're cutesy and i think they can get kind of dismissable if you're reading through the whole book at once (hard not to, everything's super short), but really. One by one they're fantastic. I mean come on:

Our Beautiful West Coast Thing

"We are a coast people
There is nothing but ocean beyond us." -- Jack Spicer

I sit here dreaming
long thoughts of California
at the end of a November day
below a cloudy twilight
near the Pacific

listening to The Mamas a
Mar 21, 2014 Charles rated it it was amazing
I think I’d probably agree that this collection is uneven, but honestly, I’m not really surprised given that it’s by Richard Brautigan. What I mean is that Brautigan wrote a few, perfect things and some of those perfect things are in this book. There are also quite a few “meh” poems, and at least a few that I thought were outright bad. However, I would still say this is a fantastic book. It really isn't asking much since it's very short. I actually borrowed this book from the library, but I ...more
Feb 28, 2010 Bethanylallen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: unpretentious poetry lovers
Most of the poems were so simple they seem elusive. Many were so simple that they beauty or meaning of them was simply their basic observation and appreciation of ordinary moments, preserving them in poetry and capturing them as extraordinary. Also, he has a quippy sense of humor that underlies many of his observations, making them light, like he wrote them with a smile.

Also, it was found on a bookshelf, a gift from my dad to my mom in the early seventies.

In a Cafe
"I watched a man in a cafe fol
Michael Palkowski
Sep 20, 2013 Michael Palkowski rated it it was ok
Very down to earth but banal in scope, naive in its focus. It reads like anti-poetry but is so lazily scrawled and collected that the potential for a coup d'état doesn't exist. The childlike demeanor and wonderment at the world is glimpsed at in his very abstract images, but they tire. Instead, it's the sad little pieces and metaphors that make you reflect and keep attention briefly. The sense of bewitchment and control loss and life in general has on him is staggering particularly since he ...more
Nov 08, 2016 KennyO rated it it was ok
Shelves: way-out-there
Poetry isn't my cup of tea but this is a collection I enjoyed in younger, hipper days ... I bought and read it when it was published in 1968, pulling it from the shelf occasionally since. Brautigan's writing in general is rife with obscure imagery with references that are enigmatic, even among devotees. His poetry goes further in that vein. He's been gone thirty years as I write this and it doesn't appear that he'll get the groundswell of postumous recognition sometimes accorded to madness in ...more
Nov 15, 2012 Chrissy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
read count: 2 [2012 march 25; 2012 nov 16]

so if e.e. cummings was the first poet to make me cry, then brautigan was the first poet to make me want to bash my head against the wall in despair.


spinning like a ghost on the bottom of a top i am haunted by all the space i will live without you

it's so nice to wake up in the morning all alone and not have to tell somebody you love them when you don't love them anymore

what you're doing to me, i want done forever

when you take your pill it's like a mi
Oct 15, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An awesome book by an amazingly eccentric and visionary poet who shot himself.

"There's nothing resembling it in American writing. It's as West Coast as a Douglas fir, but more broadly it's peculiarly American and Rube Goldbergian. This writing goes beyond eccentricity and into vision at times, and at others it is personal symptomology. It's not just a string of books ranging from witty and sensual to decadent and misbegotten, it's a rippling, flashing river for the critic and reader trout-fisher
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Richard Brautigan was a 20th century American writer. His novels and stories often have to do with black comedy, parody, satire, and Zen Buddhism. He is probably best known for his novel Trout Fishing in America. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1984.

More about Richard Brautigan...

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“Boo, Forever

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
I'm haunted by all
the space that I
will live without
“I saw thousands of pumpkins last night
come floating in on the tide,
bumping up against the rocks and
rolling up on the beaches;
it must be Halloween in the sea”
More quotes…