Hunka Hunka Howdee!
by Rick Lupert
185 poems, 276 pages + Artwork
Publisher: Ain’t Got No Press
To Order: Amazon.com
Reviewed by Michael Escoubas
Let me warn you early: you have never, and I mean never, been on a tour like this one.
Poet Rick Lupert, welcomes his readers like old friends saying, You are now officially a
member of my family. Where we go, you go. We’re a little wacky, but you’ll get used to
us. Lupert’s new collection, Hunka Hunka Howdee! runs brash and barefoot through
three iconic Mid-South cities: Memphis, Nashville and Louisville. Lupert loves life, as
any poet should; who writes poetry without a love motivation? But this poet does what
few others would venture to do: writes poems about his wife Addie, going to pee! There’s
not a lot of this mind you, but it’s there. (I can only assume she has given prior approval).
From the “Git go,” humor is in play: Fly’s up? That’s his pre-check before boarding a
flight to Dallas thence to Memphis. And this gem courtesy of WC Fields, Always carry a
flagon of whiskey in case of snake bite; and for that matter, always carry a snake. ‘Nuff
said? All aboard for Memphis and beyond!
Upon arriving at the Peabody Hotel, famous for its display of live ducks, Lupert writes a
poem about his Conversation with the Duckmaster, noting that duck is not featured
anywhere on the Peabody’s distinguished menu. (He secretly wonders why). His poems
showcase the skill of a true artist with poetic devices such as end-rhyme, alliteration,
assonance, haiku and more, occurring in abundance. Delivered in a light, conversational
style, we have in hand a delightful travel diary.
Lupert’s imaginative titles draw you in, The Mississippi Delta is Shining Like a National Guitar.
Trust me, there are more! Hilarity lurks around every corner, in every ride taken
with a Lyft driver and in every restaurant, to wit
At Sunrise Cafe
They say, at Sunrise café
they have eggsellent breakfasts
and they are not yolking.
I’m going to sit here and
talk with this sign all day.
Naturally, a visit to Graceland is on the tour portfolio, the highlights of which are
captured in, The Spirit of Elvis Moving at Graceland. No visit to Memphis is complete
without a trip inside the Hop In convenience store. It should never be assumed, however,
that Lupert is oblivious to the historical backdrops of each city. He understands that the
Memphis showcased in tourism brochures about the “blues,” Beale Street dives, and Sun
Records, is not the “true” Memphis. There is another Memphis, one ensconced in
shadows and in the hard history of race discrimination, assassination and troubled
Parts of Memphis are completely destroyed
and with no activity in these shells of buildings,
whose ceilings have collapsed on stairways,
we’re not sure if they’re being repaired or in a
permanent state of disrepair. The war is here,
or came and never left. Sometimes I wonder
where I am.
The Lupert’s are all about soaking in culture. They tour all the intellectual venues in
Nashville, and of course, the shrines of country music, headquarters of the Nashville
Sound. Standing outside an iconic educational institution, the poet treats us to this gem,
In Front of the Jack C. Massey College of Business
If you look at it quick the sign appears
to say The Jack Ass College of Business.
Lupert, one of the better educated poets I’ve ever read, has the credentials to poke fun
one of the highest rated business schools in the country.
Upon entering the world famous Country Music Hall of Fame, Lupert makes a poem out
of an off-hand remark by his wife, Addie,
Everybody Calm Down
Addie says she’s getting ready to strip.
It’s not what you think. It’s just hot outside
and some layers need to come off.
For all of the humor, at times irreverent, Lupert finds in places like the Ryman
Auditorium (Grand Ole Opry’s Mother Church) and in the lives and art of the genre’s
stalwart heroes such as, Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff and Lorette Lynn, Lupert reveals his
large and gracious heart,
Just a Little
I cry everywhere in Nashville.
Apparently, I’m a little bit more country
than I thought.
Who could visit this town without tours of distilleries? And who would dare enter its
sacred precincts without learning more about baseball bats? Rick and Addie get
acquainted with “Jim Beam” in a variety of ways, as well as lay hands on a giant baseball
bat featured at the entrance of the Louisville Slugger manufacturing facility. The city is
more than whiskey and ball bats; it is full of charm and character. All of this eloquently
I prefer to pronounce in
the original French
drawl draw of the locals
has fed me
batted me, asked
for my money in the streets
ability to bourbon.
you say it, is
I may not have mentioned that Rick and his wife are observing a wedding anniversary as
they tour this trifecta of towns. Rick dedicates both the trip and HUNKA HUNKA
HOWDEE! to Addie who is my music in every state of the union.
Spend an hour with Rick Lupert’s new collection; you will understand why.