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FICTION : FAIRFAX AND OTHER POEMS by David Del Bourgo (Quest, 1351 Titan Way, Brea, Calif. 92621: $5, paperback).

May 25, 1986|Kenneth Funsten

The cover of this thin pamphlet--a photograph of Canter's Deli on Fairfax Avenue--promises images of ethnic Los Angeles amid poetry's personal search. Then, no less impartial an observer than the publisher himself praises "David's quest for relationship to Jewish traditions . . ." But Del Bourgo's title poem turns out to be merely a paean to stolen supermarket carts. And in other poems, he mixes his metaphors to the point of confusion. Any image--ethnic or otherwise--tumbles under the weight of his cliches. With plenty of chutzpah, Del Bourgo uses trite and banal combinations as if they had the power and dignity of original expression: "We bathe/ in love/ which . . . settles/ in our eyes/ like reflections/ in a pool/ of still water. . . ." There are some poems better than others, but this poet cannot resist ringing the expected thrills of sentimentality whenever he gets the chance. Fifty or 60 years ago, Del Bourgo's weak regionalism and varied forms might have been bright and electric to readers. But today we ask much more.

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