Fred Voss
A prominent voice in the Los Angeles and Long Beach poetry scene and respected overseas as well, Fred Voss’s books include Goodstone, Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls and Hammers and Hearts of the Gods. Where does the human body end and the machine begin? Sometimes men’s and women’s voices start to sound like machines, and sometimes machines start to sound like people. Fred Voss is intimately acquainted with the grimy, deadening, joyless workaday world, and yet I believe he would not trade that world for the deluxe, much-ivied halls of Harvard or Oxford. Voss writes about machinists and the homeless and the lives of those who struggle. He has been decisively influenced by the The Doors, by Kerouac and by Bukowski. These influences may or may not be apparent, but—to use his own words about Robert de Laura—Vosspolishes poems to diamond perfection. I think that when he’s at his best he’s even better than Bukowski. His workplaces may be drab and his people may be scruffy, but the poems themselvessparkle with a wisdom and a vitality that, as far as I’m concerned, outshines most of what they produce up at Harvard.

Wasn’t Columbus a Bachelor?

“If I had a couple million dollars I’d buy us tickets to outer space!” Frank says
looking far out with sparkling eyes across the sea to the moon over the horizon
as he and Jane walk the boardwalk in Long Beach
“What?!” Jane says
“You know. That billionaire that’s building a shuttle that will take a person
to outer space for a quarter million dollars
I’d buy 2 tickets!”
“Why?” Frank throws his arm out toward the horizon Columbus sailed into
“Because you fly out past the atmosphere and you’re in outer space!
You experience weightlessness
You float around like those people in that movie 2001
and then you look out a window and see the earth
so far away it’s curved!”
“I don’t like that movie,” Jane says,
“Outer space is boring. There’s nothing there”
“But what an experience! What an adventure!
Wouldn’t you like to defy gravity
and look back at the earth floating in the blackness of outer space like a ball?”
“Weightlessness? Defying gravity? How would we pee?
We women would have to be catheterized
Youu men would have a little cup in your space suit”
“But what about the spectacular view of the curved green earth out the window?
What about the beautiful sunrise?”
“But what about the glare.
They wouldn’t let me wear my sunglasses
I’d get a migraine”
“But what about floating weightless
and leaving all your earthbound chains behind?”
“O.K. Carl Sagan! What would we eat?
Suck Spam out of a tube?
We couldn’t drink any champagne or cognac
It would float away and get in my hair
and make it frizz!”
Frank looks up at the moon over the horizon again and tries to concentrate
on the magic of the universe
and floating carefree and weightless in outer space while gazing back
at the green earth’s beautiful curved edge
and looks at Jane walking beside him happy with her feet
firmly on the earth

Wasn’t Columbus a bachelor?


2014 Fred Voss
Fred Voss was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the October 2014 Second Sunday Poetry Series