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The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,759 ratings  ·  80 reviews
"The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster" is a poetry collection. Brautigan's style is often surreal, often tender, with touches of witty humor. The poems are written in a straightforward free verse. Here's 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." Recu ...more
Paperback, 108 pages
Published June 1st 1969 by Dell Publishing Company (NY) (first published 1968)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,309)
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lisa z
Sep 22, 2008 lisa z rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 sp ...more
Courtney Johnston
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
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 fav ...more
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
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
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.
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.
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 th ...more
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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 colle ...more
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.

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. T ...more
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
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 poe ...more
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 thin ...more
David Legault
Read it as part of a brautigan omnibus, and maybe it's because it's sandwiched between two great books, but this one felt extra sexist and awful.

Maybe it has more to do with the fact that it didn't really build to anything like his other works, this is just a series of short images lacking the momentum of his other stuff
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
Great poems. Short, a quick read. I think I finished it in about half an hour. November 3 is my favorite. I snapchatted it to my friends. This could really get me into poetry.
Misti Rainwater-Lites
I think I love this book. I think I will return to this book again and again. If you are a poet please put down the pen. Your poems will never be this good and you know it.
Michael Palkowski
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 expr ...more
There were a small handful of truly beautiful poems, and a few more rather witty ones, but overall I found the collection uninspired.
Nov 27, 2008 Bethanylallen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Kate Koza
"Turn a candle inside out
and you've got the smallest
portion of a lion standing
there at the edge of the
Randy Cauthen
These are fun. He sometimes doesn't know how to get out of what he's got himself into, but I wouldn't either.
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
Brautigan poetry--simple language, astounding, surreal and utterly apt metaphors. Transformative metaphors. Most of the poems very short, easy to read, easy to return to.

Like "The Winos of Protrero Hill":

Alas, they get
their bottles
from a small
neighborhood store.
The old Russian
sells them port
and passes no moral
judgement. They go
and sit under
the green bushes
that grow along
the wooden stairs.
They could almost
be exotic flowers,
they drink so

Effortlessly he transforms alcoholic bums into exo
i can't get the phrase 'all watched over by machines of loving grace' out of my head.
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
Jeremy Patterson
If I were dead
I couldn't attract
a female fly.
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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...
Trout Fishing in America / The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster / In Watermelon Sugar In Watermelon Sugar Trout Fishing in America The Abortion The Hawkline Monster

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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
“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 you.”
More quotes…