Local Poet Drags Audience Kicking and Screaming into the 1970s
Chrislip had a big dose of culture shoved down its flannel gullet last night when local poet Jack Armbruster gave a reading of his works at the high school auditorium.
Armbruster is one of Chrislip’s twelve or thirteen most successful poets, having published nearly two dozen books. And by “published,” we mean that he paid thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to have them printed by a company that been investigated several times by the Better Business Bureau.
Armbruster began writing poetry as a teenager. Strange as it sounds, his inspiration was the ’70s game show Card Sharks.
“The announcer used to open the show with little rhymes sent in by viewers,” he recalls. “I thought it looked like fun, so I started writing poems and sending them in. I still remember the first one of mine they read on the air:
‘Aces are high,
deuces are low,
play them right
and win the dough!’
“Not exactly Robert Frost,” he says with a laugh, “but I got better.”
Indeed he did. Within five years, he was turning out works like this:
“If you play the cards
the best you can,
in the end you’ll be
the better man!”
“As you can see, the poetry was becoming more introspective,” he observes. “I was speaking about the human condition, about man’s innate desire better himself. Not to brag, but I think this is the kind of stuff Nietsche would have written about if he’d lived long enough to watch Card Sharks.”
Armbruster has long since abandoned the rhymes, for they cage his heart. His poetry is experimental and avant garde. During last night’s reading, one poem from his latest book, Card Sharks Poems XXIII, drew an audible gasp from those in the audience who were still awake:
the upborn aces,
black and red birds,
the deuces crawl,
begone ye who are lowly!
let the highborn ride the skies
and wing their way into
the game show network
of my soul.