Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Strawberry Milkshake

Dig if you will these few lines of poetic expression: "Strawberry milkshake,/ Put in the cream,/ Put in your ashtray,/ Turn out the light,/ Cos we're having a milkshake - " Frank O'Hara, you guess? Or no. Maybe Ashbery? Wrong again! It's Jerry Lewis, baby. I finally got hold of ENFANT TERRIBLE!, that academic compendium on Jerry. One reason I like it is because it's the only scholarly work I can think of offhand with an exclamation point rather than a colon in the title. I also like the article by Frank Krutnik, in which we find the fragment above. It's a ditty Jerry improvised on the COLGATE COMEDY HOUR, in a role as a soda jerk. I've written in the past about how hard it is to duplicate the pertinent aspects of Jerry's voice on the page. Turning it into poetry doesn't do it, quite, but there is something revelatory about Krutnik's technique. I'm sorry to say it's the only passage he treats in such a way. (He lays it out nicely on the page like a real poem, and it's a real pleasure to read. It's my own fault I never figured out how to do line breaks on the "blog.") I want to see more, Krutnik! Maybe it's time for a new volume: FOUND POEMS BY JERRY. Let's get some interns working on it.