Lisa Mednick Powell

Finding the Azimuth is published!


Finding The Azimuth is a partial memoir. Not only because I only remember part of my life, but also because I am only telling you part of my story.




No, really. I am not kidding. The fourth song is called Malpais. It is only about halfway finished. I thought Smoke Over Carolina was the last one, but I was wrong. You'll see what I mean.


old review

I just came across this review from No Depression of the Two Headed Dog release "Better Than One." Most of what was once a towering wall of cassette tapes has been relinquished to the dustbin now, casualties of a dying format and a cross-country move. Only a few remain, boxed up in the back of the CD room, rarely touched yet priceless in their own way -- a handful of cassettes containing music not documented anywhere else, memories that were simply too meaningful to be left behind. The songs on this disc are on one of those tapes. Lisa Mednick, who wrote them, passed along a demo of recordings she'd made with her friend Alison Young in New Orleans shortly after she moved in 1990 to Austin, where I lived at the time. They called themselves Two-Headed Dog, essentially a spinoff of a larger band they'd both been involved with called the Song Dogs. None of it ever got released, but by the time I left Austin in '91, I'd worn the tape out, and had seen Mednick perform many of its songs in a subsequent duo, Ship Of Fools (with Bill Conley). One of them, "Harper's Ferry", eventually surfaced on Mednick's 1994 solo debut Artifacts Of Love. Though that version (which also featured Young on harmony vocals) sported an exquisite latticework of strings from producer Greg Leisz, my mind always drifted back to the demo, which somehow cut closer and deeper with only Mednick's plaintive piano to echo the voices steeped in longing and regret. Listening anew more than a decade later only confirms that instinct. Other songs conjure different moods. "Border Town" and "Gunslinger's Sun" might be called southwestern noir, while "With A Dollar In Your Hand" is a classic, picture-perfect old-time waltz. The constant thread throughout is the smart, sharp character of Mednick's lyrics. Though she's known primarily as a supporting player -- having toured as a keyboardist for the likes of Juliana Hatfield and the Chills -- there's no denying the strength of the songwriting here. Her phrases evoke and intrigue, convey romance without resorting to sentimentality, and effortlessly mesh the personal with the political. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the disc's best track, "In Love With You", which is something entirely different than what its title would indicate -- sort of. Accompanied by piano and violin, Young gives voice to all the embattled passion bottled up in Mednick's words: "You think of war as something far away/Fought in glory on some foreign sand/Well we've got plenty trouble and it starts right here/It screams from my soul and whispers into your ear." No surprise that apparently I wasn't the only one who held on to that tape for all these years.

Credits for Blue Book!!

Blue Book Credits 1. Smoke Over Carolina (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music) vocals: Lisa, Kip Powell, Victoria Williams bass: Kip Powell drums: Danny Frankel organ & piano: Lisa guitar, mandolin, Weissenborn: Greg Leisz produced by Lisa Mednick Powell engineered by Chris Unck @ High Lonesome, Joshua Tree, CA additional engineering: Lynne Earls @ EMP studios, Los Angeles, CA 2. Pieces of Your Soul (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music) vocals: Lisa, Tommy Malone bass: Kip Powell drums: Paul Santopadre guitars: Tommy Malone pretend Wurlitzer: Lisa piano: Lisa produced by Tommy Malone with Lisa Mednick Powell recorded and mixed by Tom Stern @ Blue Velvet Studios, New Orleans, LA 3. Checkpoint (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music, Kip Powell) vocals: Lisa, Gabriella Evaro bass: Kip Powell drums: Danny Frankel trumpet: Mark Soden pretend Wurlitzer: Lisa lap steel and guitar: Greg Leisz produced by Lisa Mednick Powell with Chris Unck and Kip Powell engineered by Chris Unck @ High Lonesome, Joshua Tree, CA additional engineering: Lynne Earls @ EMP studios, Los Angeles, CA 4. Cold Coffee (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music; Tommy Malone, I. Malone Songs) vocals: Lisa, Tommy Malone, Alison Young bass: Kip Powell drums: Paul Santopadre accordion: Lisa guitars: Tommy Malone produced by Tommy Malone recorded and mixed by Tom Stern @ Blue Velvet Studios, New Orleans, LA 5. I Am Not Gold (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music) vocals: Lisa, Kip, Victoria Williams bass: Kip Powell drums, percussion: Danny Frankel pedal steel, electric guitar, and mandolin: Gar Robertson recorded and mixed by Gar Robertson @ Red Barn Recorders, Mojave Desert, CA produced by Lisa Mednick Powell with Gar Robertson 6. Blue Book (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music) vocals: Lisa, Sophie Kastner, Chris Unck bass: Kip Powell drums, percussion: Danny Frankel guitar: Joel Kastner pretend Wurlitzer & accordion: Lisa engineered by Chris Unck @ High Lonesome, Joshua Tree, CA additional engineering: Jay Alan Jackson @ Tarziejack Studios, Rochester, NY 7. To the Wilderness (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music; Kip Powell) vocals: Lisa & Alison Young bass: Kip Powell drums: Paul Santopadre guitars: Tommy Malone piano & organ: Lisa produced by Tommy Malone recorded and mixed by Tom Stern @ Blue Velvet Studios, New Orleans, LA 8. Give the Guns to the Girls (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music; Kip Powell) vocals: Lisa bass: Kip Powell drums, percussion, coffee cup: Danny Frankel guitars: Gar Robertson goat bells: Kip, Danny, Lisa, Gar piano & accordion: Lisa produced by Lisa Mednick Powell with Gar Robertson and Kip Powell recorded and mixed by Gar Robertson @ Red Barn Recorders, Mojave Desert, CA 9. Crow (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music) prepared pianos: Lisa vocals: Lisa ambient sounds (leaf blowers, helicopters,): chance howling hounds: Dash and Pippi Powell produced by Lisa and Kip Powell engineer: Kip Powell @ Casa Maravilla, Los Angeles, CA additional engineering: Chris Unck @ High Lonesome, Joshua Tree, CA 10. Highway Prayer (Lisa Mednick Powell, Pop Decay Music; Tommy Malone, I. Malone Songs) vocals: Tommy Malone and Lisa bass: Kip Powell drums: Paul Santopadre keyboards: Lisa guitars: Tommy Malone produced by Tommy Malone with Lisa Mednick Powell recorded and mixed by Tom Stern @ Blue Velvet Studios, New Orleans, LA all songs mastered at Joe Gastwirt Mastering, Oak Park, CA all songs, unless otherwise indicated, produced by Lisa Mednick Powell contributing executive producer: Michael Adams photos: front cover, back cover, and inside left: Kip Powell, inside right: Arnold Arbitter thank you: too much time, too many names, but I think you know who you are... you are missed: Sarnoff, Edward, and Birgitte Mednick copyright: 2017 Cicada Sounds publishing: Pop Decay Music, I. Malone Songs this recording: © Cicada Sounds, 2017.

New ALBUM soon.

Blue Book is almost ready. It has been mastered by the great Joe Gastwirt. He mastered Artifacts and Semaphore. I am working on the credits and artwork. It sounds a little like my old stuff. Critics will say that my singing has not improved. Well, neither has Bob Dylan's. I hope you all like the new work. It has been a long time since I released anything, and it is sort of exciting.

What is new?

same old wine in a new bottle.

OOPS - NO Poetry for January 16

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr. He would have been 83 yesterday. I am about to use up my dram of Vetivert, mail-ordered from Hové Parfumerie. Last spring when I went to their shop in the Quarter it was a Sunday morning, so they were closed and I was so sad that I wandered around the Quarter looking for a coffee and brioche--and wasn't sure where to go. My favorite spot (Croissant D'or) had a line around the block and I could see through the window that the pastry shelf had been picked bare. The gentleman in front of me informed me that my second favorite spot (La Madeleine) had been closed for years. So, responding as I always did to the gravitational pull of the Mississippi, I ended up there--watched the boats for a while, saw an old man fishing, wondered what he was gonna catch, and then left again in search of coffee and whatever, walking away to the off-pitch sobbing sounds of the Natchez calliope. Then I found the market that had coffee and french bread, so I was happy. This music also makes me happy and I hope it does the same for you. JJ Cale and Leon Russell, proud sons of Tulsa, Oklahoma--in a video crafted in the days before the evil reign of MTV-- and let's all take note of Christine Lakeland (JJ's wife) on guitar: This poem comes from a recent issue of the New Yorker. OR, so, the poet bothered to contact me and asked me to remove his poem since it is copyrighted. Holy crap. It was a good poem but the guy must think I am making a huge profit from pirating his precious poetry. it's as gone as a wild goose in winter. "America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King (from the April 4, 1967 speech at Riverside Church. You can find it online.)

Superbowl Poetry Punch

Sorry I missed last week. My secretary was out sick. Today’s poem is by Rainer Maria Rilke. The choice is inspired by having recently had the pleasure of hearing Ray Wylie Hubbard at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe. His song “The Messenger” contains a reference to Rilke. The song is on his album “Loco Gringo’s Lament.” Here is Rilke, from Sonnets to Orpheus, the first half of which, according to the book’s introduction, were written within a very short time span in 1922. Rilke wrote that the poems “...came up and entrusted themselves to me, the most enigmatic dictation I have ever held through and achieved; the whole first part was written down in a single breathless act of obedience, between the 2nd and 5th of February, without one word being doubtful or having to be changed.” There are 55 sonnets in the book. We are talking about extraordinary inspiration here. Poem 1 from the Second Part, translation by M.D. Herter Norton Breathing, you invisible poem! World-space constantly in pure interchange with our own being. Counterpoise, wherein I rhythmically happen. Solitary wave, whose gradual sea I am; most sparing you of all possible seas,-- winning of space. How many other of these places in space have already been within me. Many a wind is like a son to me. Do you know me, you air, still full of places once mine? You onetime smooth rind, rondure and leaf of my words. Note: I don’t know if this is the best translation. It’s just the book I have on my shelf. If anyone knows of a better translation please tell me. I don’t know German. And of course, here’s a song for the football people. You all knew I was gonna send this one, didn’t you? P.S. Don’t ‘google’ “Bobby Bare.” Just sayin’...

January 22 - TRASH!

Just about every day, we buy things knowing we will throw them away. Cans of sparkly beverages, boxes of tissues, plastic trash can liners, plastic jugs, cardboard cartons, paper cups of hot coffee and tea, canned food, plastic jars of cosmetics, hair pomade, jam--gasoline, cigars, you name it. We dispose of things all the time. Some things last longer in their containers, like gas in a tank or lipstick in a tube. Glass jars and bottles can be washed and re-used. But you get the idea. Does this make us insane as a society? There are still some places, like maybe the south of France, where you can go bring a bottle to the wine shop and get it filled and refilled (and refilled and refilled...), and some of the desert people (here and there) go to a main source and fill huge plastic cubes with water. Some of us use our own bags at the grocery store. (psssst....wanna really mess them up at Walmart? Bring a damn tote bag. Those of you who shop at Walmart will know what I mean. Though wally-world cashiers have it hard enough already I suppose...) What we are using up and causing to vanish are the resources that we use to make all of the disposable containers that we throw away. So today's topic is...TRASH! featuring A.R. Ammons and the New York Dolls (filmed at Max's, a club that no longer exists except in the memories of a few of us who played there and spent many an hour at Johnny Thunders shows...) Excerpt from garbage by A.R. Ammons. (garbage is a book-length poem that everyone should read.) "...............................................................the garbage spreader gets off his bulldozer and approaches the fire: he stares into it as into eternity, the burning edge of beginning and ending, the catalyst of going and becoming, and all thoughts of his paycheck and beerbelly, even all thoughts of his house and family and the long way he has come to be worthy of his watch, fall away, and he stands in the presence of the momentarily everlasting, the air about him sacrosanct, purged of the crawling vines and dense vegetation of desire, nothing between perception and consequence here: the arctic terns move away from the still machine and light strikes their wings in round, a fluttering, a whirling rose of wings, and it seems that terns’ slender wings and finely-tipped tails look so airy and yet so capable hat they must have been designed after angels or angels after them: the lizard family produced man in the winged air! man as what might be or might have been, neuter, guileless, a feathery hymn: the bulldozer man picks up a red bottle that turns green and purple in the light and pours out a few drops of stale wine, and yellowjackets burr in the bottle, sung drunk, the singing not even puzzled when he tosses the bottle way down the slopes, the still air being flown in in the bottle even as the bottle dives through the air! the bulldozer man thinks about that and concludes that everything is marvelous, what he should conclude and what everything is: on the deepdown slopes, he realizes, the light inside the bottle will, over the weeks, change the yellowjackets, unharmed, having left lost, not an aromatic vapor of wine left, the air percolating into and out of the neck as the sun’s heat rises and falls: all is one, one all: hallelujah: he gets back up on his bulldozer and shaking his locks backs the bulldozer up" ***** And now, Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. David Johansen and the NY DOLLS, live at Max's Kansas City:

Poetry for January 8

This week we wave goodbye to one of the greatest, most swingin-est drummers ever: Tommy Ardolino of NRBQ has left the building. It made Kip and me very sad to hear about this. If you've seen NRBQ, you know what I am talking about here. If not, you can find lots of their stuff on youtube and here are a couple to get you started: and... Not only were the ’Q’ one of the bestest bands ever, and not only has Terry Adams, the piano/ clavinova player been a hero of mine forever (I tried years ago to actually BE Terry Adams, but well, you know...), they were also capable of high comedy. One night in DC at the Wax Museum they played “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” for their last tune. Then, they played it again for their encore. Then, it was piped over the PA system as we all left the building. That was funny, but then the thing is, you know that song? The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald? It is a really great song. This was how people got the news in olden times. From ballads. And just FYI: When I check out, leave the building, kick the bucket, buy the farm, fear the reaper, etc.....I don’t want an obit. I want a damn ballad. Warning: This video is a tribute to the drowned sailors, complete with Harry Reasoner's newscast--and it is six minutes long. But it is well done and I really think you should watch it now: Finally, here is a version of the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens. My sources tell me this is by a poet named "Anon." P.S. If you know what an "eldern knicht" is, tell me. Sir Patrick Spens The king sits in Dumferling town Drinking the bluid-red wine: 'O whar will I get a guid sailor To sail this ship of mine?' Up and spak an eldern knicht, Sat at the king's richt knee: 'Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor That sails upon the sea.' The king has written a braid letter And signed it wi' his hand, And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens, Was walking on the sand. The first line that Sir Patrick read A loud lauch lauched he; The next line that Sir Patrick read, The tear blinded his ee. 'O wha is this has done this deed, This ill deed done to me, To send me out this time o'the year, To sail upon the sea? 'Mak haste, mak haste, my mirry men all, Our guid ship sails the morn.' 'O say na sae, my master dear, For I fear a deadly storm.' 'Late, late yestre'en I saw the new moon Wi'the old moon in his arm, And I fear, I fear, my dear master, That we will come to harm.' O our Scots nobles were richt laith To weet their cork-heeled shoon, But lang or a' the play were played Their hats they swam aboon. O lang, lang may their ladies sit, Wi'their fans into their hand, Or ere they see Sir Patrick Spens Come sailing to the land. O lang, lang may the ladies stand Wi'their gold kems in their hair, Waiting for their ain dear lords, For they'll never see them mair. Half o'er, half o'er to Aberdour It's fifty fathoms deep, And there lies guid Sir Patrick Spens Wi'the Scots lords at his feet. If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. - Pudd'nhead Wilson Read the blog, sign the guestbook, and download songs for free:

happy 2012 blast

Happy 2012 from New Mexico! (Attached is a picture of our puppy, Miss Luna, in her holiday finery.) We just returned from a most pleasant evening at the Camel Rock Casino, where we saw the Rat Pack Revue. A tribute to Dean Martin; Sammy Davis, Jr.; and The Chairman of the Board--complete with an onstage "bar." And a pretty good band backing them up. We went out because our gig fell through of course. The show was entertaining but not as entertaining as the guy at the next table singing along at the top of his lungs. "FLY ME TO THE MOON...LET ME PLAY AMONG THE STARS..." I was thinking "yes, that's right: TO THE MOON, @$$hole..." On the way out we were wished a happy new year by a young man in a security guard uniform whom I recognized...from somewhere...oh yes. He failed my Technical Writing class two years ago. Happy New Year. Kind of like when I saw the cop at the convenience store in Española not long ago and recognized him too...he failed my Comp class...Great. January one and I'm already doomed. Hope I can continue to send these messages from JAIL... Anyway, it is a new year. Do you have resolutions? Revolutions? Which angels will rest heavier on your shoulders this year? I am hoping for the best all around--for my beloved friends--and even some strangers. Among my resolutions: To be more honest. You know, tell it like it is. (Especially when people ask, "How are you?") And, here is a little "sound" advice from Aaron Neville circa 1966: But let's consider a caveat from Emily Dickinson: Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -- Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth's superb surprise As Lightning to the Children eased With explanation kind The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind --

Winter Holiday Message for 2011

This morning Kip pointed out our kitchen window towards the front yard (where our trucks are parked) and said, Look, honey, a white rabbit! I, gullible traveler that I am, and perhaps suffering adverse cognitive effects from the recent freezing temperatures here, and, as such, willing to believe that a denizen of the arctic regions might be visiting us in the desert--- looked. At a white plastic bag filled with garbage, the handles tied in a knot to resemble the ears of a jackrabbit. Why, that's no bunny rabbit; that's a bag of... I said. "Ha ha," said Kip. "Made you look." And thus begins our holiday season... That said, it's on to the Holiday Message: First, I want to share this clip of documentary film that features one of the best songwriters, storytellers, musicians, and bandleaders this world will ever know--Paul Kelly. This song is called How to Make Gravy. There is a line in this song that captures pretty much everything about spending holidays without--and/or with--loved ones: ...don't forget to add a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang... That is what I wish all of you this year: sweetness and that extra tang. Then, there's that extra seven days and nights of light. Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. To me, and I hope to others, Hanukkah represents making do with what you have, making a good thing last a long time, letting that little light of yours shine, frying potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts--and celebrating the spirit of rebellion that can infuse any knocked-down group of people with the warrior spirit--and with the power and dedication it takes to resurrect that which has been destroyed by an oppressor. Hanukkah by Charles Reznikov (from a longer work titled,for some reason, Meditations on the Spring Holidays) In a world where each man must be of use and each thing useful, the rebellious Jews light not one light but eight— not to see by but to look at. And, finally, Sir James Brown (when I am queen he will be knighted...): Adios, Amigos. See you in 2012!

Snow Daze and Cold Feet

We woke up Monday to a whited-out world. This week has seen subnormal temps here in the valley and beyond. Ice still on the driveway. Cold house in the morning. Scraping off the windshield. Stomping our feet when we come inside. Shrubs draped with strangely-shaped icicles. It looked so pretty the first day...and reminded me of when we fist moved to Rochester. We used to go out and walk in the deep sparkling snow on East Avenue. I was ill-equipped for the cold in a thrift-shop coat, leather gloves, and totes--ending up with frozen toes and fingers...After about a week of that, the wonder wore off. But now, here we are in the winter again! The mountains look beautiful--as long as I am standing on the right (correct) side of the window... So I started thinking about warmer climes, and Australia came to mind. It is summer there now, right? Perhaps my friend there could send me a couple of poems by poets yet unknown to me. I inquired, and he came through--and I am grateful. These poems are all good, and, by pure coincidence, one of the poems is about snow. And it is not just about snow; it’s about being surprised & mystified by snow. Also, a song by Little Feat. Vintage Feat, 1976 with the late great Lowell George. One of the greatest live bands of all time. (A few of you will remember that every high school party ended with "Tripe Face Boogie...") ONCE IN A LIFETIME, SNOW (for Chris and Mary Shara) By Les Murray Winters at home brought wind, black frost and raw grey rain in barbed-wire fields, but never more until the day my uncle rose at dawn and stepped outside - to find his paddocks gone, his cattle to their hocks in ghostly ground and unaccustomed light for miles around. And he stopped short, and gazed lit from below, and half his wrinkles vanished murmuring Snow. A man of farm and fact he stared to see the facts of weather raised to a mystery white on the world he knew and all he owned. Snow? Here? he mused. I see. High time I learned. Here, guessing what he meant had much to do with that black earth dread old men are given to, he stooped to break the sheer crust with delight at finding the cold unknown so deeply bright, at feeling his prints so softly deep, as if it thought he knew enough to sleep, or else so little he might seek to shift its weight of wintry light by a single drift, perceiving this much, he scuffed his slippered feet and scooped a handful up to taste, and eat in memory of the fact that even he might not have seen the end of reality… Then, turning, he tiptoed in to a bedroom, smiled, and wakened a murmuring child and another child Ladies and gentlemen, Lowell George:

Oct 16 Poetry Blast

First, Buffy Ste. Marie. This goes out to The People occupying Wall Streets all over the world. Next, Joni Mitchell. All week I have been thinking about that song by Joni Mitchell with the refrain "he was playing real good for free..." because we were at the Plaza in Santa Fe and saw this beautiful lady playing classical guitar. Real Good. OK, I gave her my dollar. But it was basically For Free. "A thinking woman sleeps with monsters." Ran across that piercing, truthful line from Adrienne Rich in the preface to an old book I re-discovered the other night. It is a book of poetry Mike Hall gave me when he and Paul Henehan and I went to Ireland to play and sing, mostly for free. As I opened the book a bus ticket fell out. The ticket is labeled "BUS EIREANN." It's stamped "20 Jun 91, " so it must have been from the evening ride I took from Galway back to Dublin. When I stepped out of the bus I stepped into a carnival. Wandered about in the colored lights until I found my friend Daragh McCarthy, then slept on his couch because I got sort of lost trying to find the house where I'd been staying and where I'd left my was over a bridge, I remembered that much--but which bridge? Eventually, I found the house, my suitcase, and, eventually, a cab to Dun Laoghaire to catch the ferry back to Holyhead to catch the train past the white chalk horse etched on the hillside outside London. "Don't be forgettin' your way back, now," said the cab driver. Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law by Adrienne Rich 1 You, once a belle in Shreveport, with henna-colored hair, skin like a peachbud, still have your dresses copied from that time, and play a Chopin prelude called by Cortot: "Delicious recollections float like perfume through the memory." Your mind now, moldering like wedding-cake, heavy with useless experience, rich with suspicion, rumor, fantasy, crumbling to pieces under the knife-edge of mere fact. In the prime of your life. Nervy, glowering, your daughter wipes the teaspoons, grows another way. 2 Banging the coffee-pot into the sink she hears the angels chiding, and looks out past the raked gardens to the sloppy sky. Only a week since They said: Have no patience. The next time it was: Be insatiable. Then: Save yourself; others you cannot save. Sometimes she's let the tapstream scald her arm, a match burn to her thumbnail, or held her hand above the kettle's snout right in the woolly steam. They are probably angels, since nothing hurts her anymore, except each morning's grit blowing into her eyes. 3 A thinking woman sleeps with monsters. The beak that grips her, she becomes. And Nature, that sprung-lidded, still commodious steamer-trunk of tempora and mores gets stuffed with it all: the mildewed orange-flowers, the female pills, the terrible breasts of Boadicea beneath flat foxes' heads and orchids. Two handsome women, gripped in argument, each proud, acute, subtle, I hear scream across the cut glass and majolica like Furies cornered from their prey: The argument ad feminam, all the old knives that have rusted in my back, I drive in yours, ma semblable, ma soeur! 4 Knowing themselves too well in one another: their gifts no pure fruition, but a thorn, the prick filed sharp against a hint of scorn... Reading while waiting for the iron to heat, writing, My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun-- in that Amherst pantry while the jellies boil and scum, or, more often, iron-eyed and beaked and purposed as a bird, dusting everything on the whatnot every day of life. 5 Dulce ridens, dulce loquens, she shaves her legs until they gleam like petrified mammoth-tusk. 6 When to her lute Corinna sings neither words nor music are her own; only the long hair dipping over her cheek, only the song of silk against her knees and these adjusted in reflections of an eye. Poised, trembling and unsatisfied, before an unlocked door, that cage of cages, tell us, you bird, you tragical machine-- is this fertillisante douleur? Pinned down by love, for you the only natural action, are you edged more keen to prise the secrets of the vault? has Nature shown her household books to you, daughter-in-law, that her sons never saw? 7 "To have in this uncertain world some stay which cannot be undermined, is of the utmost consequence." Thus wrote a woman, partly brave and partly good, who fought with what she partly understood. Few men about her would or could do more, hence she was labeled harpy, shrew and whore. 8 "You all die at fifteen," said Diderot, and turn part legend, part convention. Still, eyes inaccurately dream behind closed windows blankening with steam. Deliciously, all that we might have been, all that we were--fire, tears, wit, taste, martyred ambition-- stirs like the memory of refused adultery the drained and flagging bosom of our middle years. 9 Not that it is done well, but that it is done at all? Yes, think of the odds! or shrug them off forever. This luxury of the precocious child, Time's precious chronic invalid,-- would we, darlings, resign it if we could? Our blight has been our sinecure: mere talent was enough for us-- glitter in fragments and rough drafts. Sigh no more, ladies. Time is male and in his cups drinks to the fair. Bemused by gallantry, we hear our mediocrities over-praised, indolence read as abnegation, slattern thought styled intuition, every lapse forgiven, our crime only to cast too bold a shadow or smash the mold straight off. For that, solitary confinement, tear gas, attrition shelling. Few applicants for that honor. 10 Well, she's long about her coming, who must be more merciless to herself than history. Her mind full to the wind, I see her plunge breasted and glancing through the currents, taking the light upon her at least as beautiful as any boy or helicopter, poised, still coming, her fine blades making the air wince but her cargo no promise then: delivered palpable ours.

December 4 Poetry Blast

A few weeks ago, while cleaning the bathroom, I saw this strange-looking object peeping up through a crack in the grout by our shower. It sort of looked like a Q-tip. I thought, well, maybe it’s a Q-tip. I thought maybe Kip had put it there to stop the bugs that were climbing up through the cracks between the tiles. A strange thing to think, but that’s what I thought. So I left it there. The next morning I saw that the Q-tip thing was actually a small white mushroom. I called Kip. “HEY! THERE’S A MUSHROOM GROWING IN OUR BATHROOM!” Kip came in and picked it and tossed it away. I poured some bleach into the crack. That would stop those damn mushrooms from invading our territory. I was wrong. The border was not secure... Yesterday morning, I found another one. Growing in exactly the same spot. Gray this time, with white spots. I left it alone, and during the day it fluted out into an umbrella shape. By evening it was desiccated and I picked it and threw it away. I didn’t use any bleach this time. What’s the use? (if you want to see yesterday’s mushroom, please open the attached photo. It is the same one I posted on facebook so some of you might have seen it.) Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath Overnight, very Whitely, discreetly, Very quietly Our toes, our noses Take hold on the loam, Acquire the air. Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us; The small grains make room. Soft fists insist on Heaving the needles, The leafy bedding, Even the paving. Our hammers, our rams, Earless and eyeless, Perfectly voiceless, Widen the crannies, Shoulder through holes. We Diet on water, On crumbs of shadow, Bland-mannered, asking Little or nothing. So many of us! So many of us! We are shelves, we are Tables, we are meek, We are edible, Nudgers and shovers In spite of ourselves. Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Our foot's in the door.

Poetry Blast Nov 27 2011

This week's tidings are dedicated to Coco Robicheaux (whose given name was Curtis Arceneaux) who left this world Friday night. He was an artist--made the Songdogs' logo in fact...which does not exist digitally as far as I know. I could scan it and attach it here, but I think it should remain as ink on paper--or T-shirt. He also had a theory that Chuck Berry's hero, Johnny B. Goode, was from Slidell. Since I left New Orleans in 1989, I have seen him a couple of times. Today I regret rehearsing with my band (sorry guys) instead of going to his show the night he played on the Santa Fe Plaza last summer. But c'est la vie, as Chuck Berry said. I bet Coco will have a big second line and even though I haven't seen him or spoken with him in forever, I do wish I could go to New Orleans to see him off. Perhaps some of you will be there. So maybe this is morbid for Thanksgiving weekend. But I am Thankful to have known some of the people I have known and who have passed from this world. Here is Coco, walking with the spirit: Also in the spirit, here is a poem by Kalamu ya Salaam. Published in New Orleans in 1979. It is called Iron Flowers, after the metal flowers, which are made from steel drums and painted, and which decorate Haitian cemeteries. This is according to the post I read where I found this poem. If anyone has different information, please do not hesitate to let me know. If you are in Santa Fe, go to the International Museum of Folk Art on Museum Hill next Sunday ( when it's free for NM residents) and see the exhibit titled "The Arts of Survival." It has segments on both Haiti and New Orleans. Iron Flowers sluggish, semi-stagnant the water in Haitian gutters, small gullets, trickles green, sewerage green, here even the dirt is poor and there is a cloying dullness camouflaging even strongly persistent colors in squared, white walled cemeteries funeral flowers are made of painted iron/ i see no roses rising through this Port Au Prince poverty i hesitate to take pictures it is like thievery almost like i am stealing precious light that these, my brothers and sister, need to live

poetry Blast Thanksgiving/ Black Friday

appy Thanksgiving!! It occurred to me to send the entirety of Alice's Restaurant, but I decided against it and in favor of these nice pictures. (see attached) And here is a poem for tomorrow: The World is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon By William Wordsworth The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; The winds that will be howling at all hours. And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be A pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn. (1802 - 04)

NOv 20 Poetry Blast

Willie Shakespeare was The Man, OK? Here is a passage from Romeo and Juliet that I like. Romeo asks the druggist to sell him his worst poison. The druggist tells him that he has some really kick-ass poison, but is forbidden by law to sell it to anyone. Romeo implies that a person as poor as the druggist could starve to death anyway, so he might as well go against the law. Then (this is the best part) Romeo more than implies that money is the true poison in this world. He’s right, of course. And so, this is for the plutocracy who control the outcome of our moment in the voting booth--which is the single moment of equality most of us will experience in our lives--because they choose what the corporate media tell us every day. And when fewer and fewer people have access to affordable quality education, are the people to blame for not having the wherewithal to analyze the news feed they do receive? Just sayin’--if 100% of the 99% were better educated, then maybe we would have a chance. But what good would that do the jolly 1%? A truly informed public must be their biggest fear. Oh, and by the way, get over that "was-Shakespeare-a-fraud" thing. Shakespeare wrote this and thunk it up all by himself. No committee or lawyer could come up with such wisdom and express it with such wit. ROMEO Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor: Hold, there is forty ducats: let me have A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear As will disperse itself through all the veins That the life-weary taker may fall dead And that the trunk may be discharged of breath As violently as hasty powder fired Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb. Apothecary Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law Is death to any he that utters them. ROMEO Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness, And fear'st to die? famine is in thy cheeks, Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes, Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back; The world is not thy friend nor the world's law; The world affords no law to make thee rich; Then be not poor, but break it, and take this. Apothecary My poverty, but not my will, consents. ROMEO I pay thy poverty, and not thy will. Apothecary Put this in any liquid thing you will, And drink it off; and, if you had the strength Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight. ROMEO There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls, Doing more murders in this loathsome world, Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell. I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none... And...while we are in the theater, let's watch this: P.S. To make up for the lack of poetry last week (I was visiting family old and young in California), I will be sending a Thanksgiving/ Black Friday bonus poem later this week.

Poetry Blast Nov 6 2011

I am feeling oh so patriotic today. Here is the description, from the U.S. Library of Congress (where I once worked as a stack attendant and we blew our pot smoke out the bathroom window on our breaks and this guy named Al wrote fake autographs in the books that he figured no one would ever read anyway, signing them "Love Ya," and stack management never even noticed it...but it made us shelvers laugh and our supervisor walked through the stacks with his short shorts, tube top, and Walkman on, firewater on his breath, singing along really loud and out of tune to Prince. It was 1983 and book requests were sent up to us by pneumatic tubes and we unscrewed the tubes, read the numbers and letters penciled onto the pieces of paper, and found the books, then loaded them into bins on a conveyor belt, set in motion by way of an enormous pulley system. The books rattled down to the reading room where Hattie, the reading room attendant, brought to books to the patrons at their tables. She had a long black braid down her back and probably looked like Jane from Their Eyes Were Watching God.) web site of the duties of a poet Laureate: The poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress serves as the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the poet laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. Let's toast the "poetic impulse of Americans" and hope it is more powerful than cops, more powerful than the drumbeats of war, more powerful than blockades, and more powerful than a missile. Two Poems by Philip Levine and an interview in today's NYTimes magazine. Drum Leo's Tool & Die, 1950 In the early morning before the shop opens, men standing out in the yard on pine planks over the umber mud. The oil drum, squat, brooding, brimmed with metal scraps, three-armed crosses, silver shavings whitened with milky oil, drill bits bitten off. The light diamonds last night's rain; inside a buzzer purrs. The overhead door stammers upward to reveal the scene of our day. We sit for lunch on crates before the open door. Bobeck, the boss's nephew, squats to hug the overflowing drum, gasps and lifts. Rain comes down in sheets staining his gun-metal covert suit. A stake truck sloshes off as the sun returns through a low sky. By four the office help has driven off. We sweep, wash up, punch out, collect outside for a final smoke. The great door crashes down at last. In the darkness the scents of mint, apples, asters. In the darkness this could be a Carthaginian outpost sent to guard the waters of the West, those mounds could be elephants at rest, the acrid half light the haze of stars striking armor if stars were out. On the galvanized tin roof the tunes of sudden rain. The slow light of Friday morning in Michigan, the one we waited for, shows seven hills of scraped earth topped with crab grass, weeds, a black oil drum empty, glistening at the exact center of the modern world. Keats in California The wisteria has come and gone, the plum trees have burned like candles in the cup of earth, the almond has shed its pure blossoms in a soft ring around the trunk. Iris, rose, tulip, hillsides of poppy and lupin, gorse, wild mustard, California is blazing in the foolish winds of April. I have been reading Keats—the poems, the letters, the life— for the first time in my 59th year, and I have been watching television after dinner as though it could bring me some obscure, distant sign of hope. This morning I rose late to the soft light off the eucalyptus and the overbearing odor of orange blossoms. The trees will give another year. They are giving. The few, petty clouds will blow away before noon, and we will have sunshine without fault, china blue skies, and the bees gathering to splatter their little honey dots on my windshield. If I drive to the foothills I can see fields of wildflowers on fire until I have to look away from so much life. I could ask myself, Have I made a Soul today, have I sucked at the teat of the Heart flooded with the experience of a world like ours? Have I become a man one more time? At twenty it made sense. I put down The Collected Poems, left the reserve room of the Wayne library to wander the streets of Detroit under a gray soiled sky. It was spring there too, and the bells rang at noon. The out-patients from Harper waited timidly under the great stone cross of the Presbyterian church for the trolly on Woodward Avenue, their pinched faces flushed with terror. The black tower tilted in the wind as though it too were coming down. It made sense. Before dark I’ll feel the lassitude enter first my arms and legs and spread like water toward the deep organs. I’ll lie on my bed hearing the quail bark as they scurry from cover to cover in their restless searching after sustenance. This place can break your heart. NY Times interview:

Halloween Poetry Blast

Here, kids, have some ear promised....don't usually send two in a row and I promise to never do it again. But I promised... First Ghostly Song - This is The Cate Brothers backing up the Band sans Robbie. Second Ghost Song - Hey, can you sing along with the words? All of them? I scary is that!!? Excerpt from: LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE INSCRIBED WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION James Whitcomb Riley (Thanks to Charlene for scaring this one up...) (Modern translation) When the night is dark and scary, and the moon is full and creatures are a flying and the wind goes Whoooooooooo, you better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear, and cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphans tears and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about, or the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!!! (Original Translation) LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE INSCRIBED WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION To all the little children: - The happy ones; and sad ones; The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones; The good ones - Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones. Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay, An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away, An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep, An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board- an-keep; An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done, We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun, A-listenin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about, An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you Ef you Don't Watch Out! Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers, - An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs, His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl, An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all! An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press, An seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess; But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout: - An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out! An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin, An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin; An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there, She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care! An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide, They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side, An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'for she knowed what she's about! An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out! An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue, An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo! An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray, An' the lightnin'bugs in dew is all squenched away, - You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear, An' cherish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear, An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about, Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!

Oct 30 Poetry Blast

Hi!! Today I couldn't decide whether to send a poem/ song email message about current events (scary and not-so-fun) or Halloween (scary and fun), so I decided to send one today and one tomorrow. Today you take your medicine and tomorrow you get your candy. Here are two versions of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," one version performed by Bing Crosby and an updated version, performed by Dr. John and the late great Odetta. (I think I recognize the dobro on that track...anyone know who played on that session?) And, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the statue of Liberty...the Emma Lazarus poem that is inscribed on the pedestal of the statue itself. The pedestal was created here in the U.S., but the statue was a gift from France. And I send this with bitter irony. Why? Look at what the republicans are trying to do to women. We are talking "going medieval" in some states... And look at the way we are treating immigrants. When many of our forbears were immigrants themselves and passed through Ellis Island not so long ago. Just the blink of an eye; one hundred twenty five years is nothing if you are looking at a statue. The second sonnet just says that what we leave behind is sort of important. Dr. John and Odetta: Bing: The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Stephen Mitchell) We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared. Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur: would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.

Oct 23 Poetry Blast

From the New York Times this morning: ARLINGTON, Tex. — Babe Ruth, twice. Reggie Jackson. Albert Pujols. That is the complete list of players with three home runs in a World Series game. Here are a couple of baseball poems and a cricket song. Well, not a song sung by a cricket. A song by Paul Kelly about a famous Australian cricket player. It's just such a great song. And nice vintage film clips to go with it. Fathers took their sons/ 'cause fortune used to hide/ In the palm of his hand... First, two poems. Scroll down for the video and music. Moses Yellowhorse is Throwing Water Balloons from the Hotel Roosevelt by B.H. Fairchild The combed lawn of the Villa Carlotta cools the bare feet of my aesthetic friend cooing Beautiful, so beautiful, a dream … beneath the fat leaves of catalpa trees, and my Marxist friend—ironic, mordant— groans, Ah, yes, indeed, how beautifully the rich lie down upon the backs of the poor, but I am somewhere else, an empty field near Black Bear Creek in western Oklahoma, brought their by that ancient word, dream, my father saying, You had the dream, Horse, and two men toss a baseball back and forth as the sun dissolves behind the pearl-grey strands of a cirrus and the frayed, flaming branches along the creek so that the men, too, seem to be on fire, and the other one, a tall Pawnee named Moses Yellowhorse, drops his glove, But I wasn’t a man there, and there, I know, is Pittsburgh, and man means something more like human, for as a boy I had heard this story many times, beginning, always, He was the fastest I ever caught, the fastest, I think, there ever was, and I was stunned because for a boy in America, to be the fastest was to be a god, and now my father and his brothers move behind a scrim of dust in a fallow wheat field, a blanket stretched between two posts to make a backstop, a stand of maize to mark the outfield wall, while their father watches, If an Indian can make it, then so by god can they, and so it goes, this story of failure in America: Icarus unwarned, strapped with his father’s wings, my father one winter morning patches the drive line of an old Ford tractor with a strand of baling wire, blood popping out along his knuckles, and then in fury turning to his father, I’m not good enough, I’ll never get there, and I’m sorry, I’m goddamned sorry, while Moses Yellowhorse is drunk again and throwing water balloons from the Hotel Roosevelt because now he is “Chief” Yellowhorse, and even though in a feat of almost angelic beauty he struck out Gehrig, Ruth, and Lazzeri with nine straight heaters, something isn’t right, so one day he throws a headball at Ty Cobb, then tells my father, He was an Indian-hater, even his teammates smiled, and now, trying to explain this to my friends, it occurs to me that, unlike the Villa Carlotta, baseball is a question of neither beauty nor politics but rather mythology, the collective dream, the old dream, of men becoming gods or at the very least, as they remove their wings, being recognized as men. "A Pitch Colored Black" by Rev. Darnell A. Carruthers There's a trail blaz'n through an emerald haze in the main vein of "some folks" ever since birth. "These people" first praise God, Then second the Turf.... The unquenchable thirst of victory Is all that you see in their eyes. As they look to the skies – and with dusty hands block the sun, hoping to stop the run. For the game to them is "serious" though it's billed as "fun." And their hearts and eagles soar – Searching still for a higher peak. Ya' see, Their skin is thick, but their hearts are fragile and don't take easy to defeat... Now, there are some men scared to rise, And then there are those that are scared to fall, And as if that ain't enough – and that ain't all. Still, American History has forgotten one other fact: Before Baseball even had an umpire – There was a Pitch Colored Black. Finally, and don't skip this...a typically gorgeous song by Paul Kelly (he writes no filler.)

John Lennon Bday Blast

OK, so the night John was killed i was on a date with this guy who was a photographer. But I never went out with that guy again. Not because he didn't like my band at the time. We walked out to 72nd and Columbus, where we stopped to get ice cream (it was December but I guess not too cold yet?). You could see flashing red lights down by the Dakota, but I didn't really think much of it--I mean it was New York. There were always flashing red lights and sirens going off. The girl who scooped our ice cream said sort of nonchalantly, "Did you hear John Lennon got shot?" WHAT? I told her "never mind the ice cream..." and this guy I was with went ahead and asked for chocolate. She was digging, like with a shovel, down into this dark muddy tub of ice cream and this guy I was with, he took it and said "Thanks." And he ate the ice cream. That is why I never dated him again. He could still eat ice cream while John Lennon bled. No, you do not eat ice cream when a Beatle is dying. Sorry. Even though my favorite Beatle was still hale and hearty at the time (though perhaps the cancer that eventually claimed him lay coiled and waiting in his bloodstream already--), well, it was like a nightmare. I loved John. New York loved John. So I parted ways with that fella and joined the clots of people in the streets who gathered, crying and shaking their heads...then the next night Yoko lit a candle and everyone keeping vigil outside the Dakota could see it....anyway...Happy Birthday John. You would have been 71. Wish you could have some ice cream today. Here are a couple of his poems from "In His Own Write," and "A Spaniard in the Works." The Moldy Moldy Man I'm a moldy moldy man I'm moldy thru and thru I'm a moldy moldy man You would not think it true I'm moldy till my eyeballs I'm moldy til my toe I will not dance I shyballs I'm such a humble Joe The Fat Budgie (excerpt) I have a little budgie He is my very pal I take him walks n Britain I hope I always shall. I call my budgie Jeffrey My grandads name's the same I call him after Granddad Who had a feathered brain. And of course...a song...

October 2 Poetry Blast

First, a big thank-you to Dylan-James in New Orleans, who sent me a CD he burned from his recording of the Song Dogs at Muddy Waters in December of 1988. Which is pretty cool in and of itself, but the fact that this was burned from a cassette he just the other day found in a box that had been under water for two weeks after Katrina? Awesome in the true sense of the word. Today's poem is dedicated to Dylan James and "the Class of 1985-89, Oak Street School of Rock & Roll." Dylan-James and the Song Dogs were there. Were you? (All hail the mighty cassette! yes, it was a TDK) Second, a little nature tale and a poem: Today I was yanking some weeds in the garden and saw a bright red spot moving around near where I was working. Then I saw that the bright red spot was shaped sort of like two triangles connected at the points, one upside down on top of the other. was attached to a shiny black abdomen with a head and eight legs.... yikes. So I stopped pulling weeds...thought about killing the spider, then realized it was tiny, which meant that it wouldn't have much venom, and that it was a baby, which meant that there were probably many more in the I decided NOT to kill it. Why bother? And what if the mother saw me do it?? Besides it wasn't in the house--just out in the garden. That turf belongs to the spiders is what I figured. In any case, it certainly belongs to them now. I am not going back out there! Let them live in peace, say I. But. If I see one o' them nasty sumbitches in the house, forget it. It's a goner. So, anyways, here is a poem from Walt Whitman. A Noiseless Patient Spider A noiseless patient spider, I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated, Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. And you, O my soul where you stand, Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O O my soul. ... and of course how could we forget:

Sept. 25 Poetry Blast

As we enter the ponderous season of the Autumnal Equinox...a time when we look back on all the stupid things we said or did in the past year...we try not to some cases what we did not do or, perhaps, goshdarnit! I should have eaten that whole enchilada...or perhaps, damn! why did I go to the four on that one song when I should've stayed on the one...or maybe even, sheesh! I can't believe I went to school in my pajamas... I wish to thank all of you who have commented in my guestbook or replied to my weekly emails and expressed your appreciation for the moments of contemplation that each poem or song brings to your otherwise dreary and mechanized life...I wish to thank you, so, in order to thank you properly, I am sending these deep thoughts: Johnny Guitar Watson: I was in the Baloney section. I had take a closer look. Abdul Jabbar couldn't hit these prices with a sky hook! Here is a live version in case you don't like robots: And, while we are in the Baloney section, here is an especially frightening news item about what can happen if you mess with U.S. Customs (be sure to enjoy some of the delicious comments on this news item as well): Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. --Arthur Miller

Sept. 18 poetry Blast

Ballad of Roosevelt by Langston Hughes The pot was empty, The cupboard was bare. I said, Papa, What’s the matter here? I’m waitin' on Roosevelt, son, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Waitin' on Roosevelt, son. The rent was due, And the lights was out. I said, Tell me, Mama, What’s it all about? We’re waitin' on Roosevelt, son, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Just waitin' on Roosevelt. Sister got sick And the doctor wouldn’t come Cause we couldn’t pay him The proper sum— A-waitin on Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, A-waitin' on Roosevelt. Then one day They put us out o' the house. Ma and Pa was meek as a mouse Still waitin' on Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt. But when they felt those Cold winds blow And didn’t have no Place to go Pa said, I’m tired O’ waitin' on Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt. Damn tired o‘ waitin’ on Roosevelt. I can’t git a job And I can’t git no grub. Backbone and navel’s Doin' the belly-rub— A-waitin' on Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt. And a lot o' other folks What’s hungry and cold Done stopped believin' What they been told By Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt— Cause the pot’s still empty, And the cupboard’s still bare, And you can’t build a bungalow Out o' air— Mr. Roosevelt, listen! What’s the matter here? Source: Langston Hughes, “Ballad of Roosevelt,” New Republic 31 (November 14, 1934) Here's a short clip of Ray and Johnny...

Labor Day poetry Blast

Labor Day Bonus from your friend, who is the granddaughter of immigrant sweatshop workers, (this is for Grandpa Sam Schuch who was an IGLWU organizer and shop steward) and who is also a distant cousin of Lev Bronstein - AKA Leon Trotsky. The girl can't help it. She does not like what she sees going on at U.S. workplaces: union busting, layoffs, marginalization, and pay cuts. Remember: YOU CAN'T GET FIRED FOR JOINING A UNION. RETALIATION IS ILLEGAL. (The management will just find some other minor flaw in your job performance and then fire you for that! So stop groveling and start shoveling!) Which Side Are You On? (performed by Pete Seeger) Solidarity Forever (lyrics written by Ralph Chaplin and set to the tune of "John Brown's Body."From the Wobblies' song book.) When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run, There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun; Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one, But the union makes us strong. Solidarity forever, Solidarity forever, solidarity forever For the union makes us strong. Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite, Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might? Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight? For the union makes us strong. It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade; Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid; Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made; But the union makes us strong. All the world that's owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone. We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone. It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own. While the union makes us strong. They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn, But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn. We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn That the union makes us strong. In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold, Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold. We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old For the union makes us strong. Mayn Rue Platz (My Resting Place) is a sweat shop worker's song. This is a nice version of the song translated into English. (you can hear my version in Yiddish and English on my site: Click on 'music' and then 'miscellaneous releases.' ) "It's amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share some of the power that the affluent now monopolize, we will give a damn." -- Cesar Chavez I think poetry, if it is going to be any good, should move members of all groups, and that is what I hope for. --Frank Marshall Davis

poetry Blast Sept 1 2011

OK, I know. For many of you, the song "Moondance" lost its charm half way through the first jazz workshop you attended or first cover band you played in. Along with "Proud Mary," "Moondance" has become something at which we sometimes roll our eyes. Too bad, because it is a great song (just like "Proud Mary"--and BTW the 'B' side of the Ike and Tina 45 RPM single of Proud Mary is super-badass--) and, what's more, the ALBUM Moondance contains too much treasure for me to process all at once. So here are two of my favorites from that LP (it's ok, don't worry: neither of them is "Moondance"): Favorite 1. Favorite 2. Now, let's read a poem by Victor Hernandez Cruz: (And...another disclaimer by yours truly. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not take hurricanes or anything associated with them lightly. But...consider that this poem is not really about hurricanes. So, what is it about? Best answer wins.) Problems with Hurricanes A campesino looked at the air And told me: With hurricanes it's not the wind or the noise or the water. I'll tell you he said: it's the mangoes, avocados Green plantains and bananas flying into town like projectiles. How would your family feel if they had to tell The generations that you got killed by a flying Banana. Death by drowning has honor If the wind picked you up and slammed you Against a mountain boulder This would not carry shame But to suffer a mango smashing Your skull or a plantain hitting your Temple at 70 miles per hour is the ultimate disgrace. The campesino takes off his hat— As a sign of respect toward the fury of the wind And says: Don't worry about the noise Don't worry about the water Don't worry about the wind— If you are going out beware of mangoes And all such beautiful sweet things.

Poetry Blast Aug 14 2011

The other day I saw two baby birds on the ground under a tree. Alive, fully feathered, but blinking in the light, like they were stupefied at no longer being in the nest. Were they ready to fly? When I came outside at the end of the day, one of them was dead, the other standing a few feet away. The next day as I arrived to work, there were two young boys and two women trying to rescue a kitten from the same tree. They got it down and, after cooing over it, let it go and it ran into the dry ditch. This morning, observing the hummingbirds buzz-bombing each other at the feeder, I am (laughing at them, but also) thinking: this is a brutal world. For now, you can escape with Octavio Paz and George Jones: Madrigal Octavio Paz, translated by Eliot Weinberger More transparent than this water dropping through the vine’s twined fingers my thought stretches a bridge from yourself to yourself Look at you truer than the body you inhabit fixed at the center of my mind you were born to live on an island Poet’s Epitaph Ocatvio Paz, translated by Muriel Rukeyser He tried to sing, singing not to remember his true life of lies and to remember his lying life of truths. George Jones--The Bird: P.S. Flying away to the Atlantic ocean--see you in September! ...and here are the Paz poems in Español: Epitafio para un Poeta Quiso cantar, cantar para olvidar su vida verdadera de mentiras y recordar su mentirosa vida de verdades. Madrigal Más transparente que esa gota de agua entre los dedos de la enredadera mi pensamiento tiende un puente de ti misma a ti misma Mírate más real que el cuerpo que habitas fija en el centro de mi frente Naciste para vivir en una isla. "The crucial test of good vocal music is the intrinsic merit of the music when separated from the words, and that merit consists in the beauty of musical thought." From the Musician's Book of Days. Entry for May First.

Poetry Blast Aug 6 2011

Had a nightmare the other night. Not unusual, and normally I would not share this. But isn't it universal? Tell me you've never woken up with a start or a scream in the night. So I remembered this poem, where Coleridge distills the essence of why bad dreams are so, well, bad. You don't know if someone is doing something awful to you, or if you have done something awful to someone else--or to yourself. Sleep really can be the "sleep of reason," which, as I think it was Goya who said, "breeds monsters." Right. So, what's my point? Reading this poem will comfort the afflicted. I believe that was Coleridge's purpose when he wrote it. Not afflicted? Take a minute to read it anyway. It's Coleridge, dammit. Then check out Dan Baird on youtube. For your convenience I have provided a link at the end of the poem. The Pains of Sleep By Samuel Taylor Coleridge Ere on my bed my limbs I lay, It hath not been my use to pray With moving lips or bended knees; But silently, by slow degrees, My spirit I to Love compose, In humble trust mine eye-lids close, With reverential resignation No wish conceived, no thought exprest, Only a sense of supplication; A sense o'er all my soul imprest That I am weak, yet not unblest, Since in me, round me, every where Eternal strength and Wisdom are. But yester-night I prayed aloud In anguish and in agony, Up-starting from the fiendish crowd Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me: A lurid light, a trampling throng, Sense of intolerable wrong, And whom I scorned, those only strong! Thirst of revenge, the powerless will Still baffled, and yet burning still! Desire with loathing strangely mixed On wild or hateful objects fixed. Fantastic passions! maddening brawl! And shame and terror over all! Deeds to be hid which were not hid, Which all confused I could not know Whether I suffered, or I did: For all seemed guilt, remorse or woe, My own or others still the same Life-stifling fear, soul-stifling shame. So two nights passed: the night's dismay Saddened and stunned the coming day. Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me Distemper's worst calamity. The third night, when my own loud scream Had waked me from the fiendish dream, O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild, I wept as I had been a child; And having thus by tears subdued My anguish to a milder mood, Such punishments, I said, were due To natures deepliest stained with sin,— For aye entempesting anew The unfathomable hell within, The horror of their deeds to view, To know and loathe, yet wish and do! Such griefs with such men well agree, But wherefore, wherefore fall on me? To be loved is all I need, And whom I love, I love indeed. ------------------------------------------------------------- And here is one for all my fellow rock 'n' roll English teachers--any questions?

Poetry Blast July 23 2011

This morning, over a hearty breakfast of benadryl and coffee, I watched a sparrow cling to the stucco wall outside. The bird had a tuft of white fluff in its beak. They have this nest-tropolis under the eaves of the porch out there. A whole colony. They are always scuffling and peeping and fussing around. Anyway, this bird had discovered the results of our having brushed the dog yesterday. Luna is a Husky mix and is shedding her undercoat like crazy. She doesn't need it right now; it's hot. The bird figured: Hey, this is something I can use. When we do home improvements, we study and measure and shop for insulation material, wondering what will work best. But...the dog just knows and the bird just knows. Are we just stupid? The Sandpiper by Elizabeth Bishop The roaring alongside he takes for granted, and that every so often the world is bound to shake. He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward, in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake. The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet of interrupting water comes and goes and glazes over his dark and brittle feet. He runs straight through it, watching his toes. --Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them, where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs, he stares at the dragging grains. The world is a mist. And then the world is minute and vast and clear. The tide is higher or lower. He couldn't tell you which. His beak is focused; he is preoccupied, looking for something, something, something, Poor bird, he is obsessed! The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray, mixed with quartz grains, rose, and amethyst. Then, there's Blake, of course: (you get the text if you click on the "see more" button under the viewing window.)

Poetry Blast July 17, 2011

We ended our gig last night with "Dead Flowers" as usual. So it stuck in my head all night. And in the morning I got to thinking about my days as a florist in D.C., New Orleans, L.A., and Austin.Valentine's Day was always busy. Guilty rocker husbands and boyfriends would come in and get roses for their ladyfriends and wives, sometimes for both. Hey, what goes in the vase stays in the vase. Friends would call and order flowers and use that as an excuse to talk about songs or about each other. I would hold the telephone against my shoulder and listen while pushing the broom, winding myself up in the telephone cord as I swept up leaves, flower petals, ribbon fragments--all of it trash and all of it so pretty. I always went home with some fully opened roses that wouldn't sell. And I went home with nicks and cuts and thorns embedded in my hands. Always I took home somebody's love story. Some days I felt so responsible: if those roses did not last, how long would the fella last with the lady he was courting? So, here are some words about flowers. First, one from Ted Roethke who grew up working in his father's greenhouse. Then, Loren Eiseley--an essay fragment. And a strange little surprise at the end. Weed Puller Under the concrete benches, Hacking at black hairy roots,-- Those lewd monkey-tails hanging from drainholes,-- Digging into the soft rubble underneath, Webs and weeds, Grubs and snails and sharp sticks, Or yanking tough fern-shapes, Coiled and green and thick, like dripping smilax, Tugging all day at perverse life: The indignity of it!-- With everything blooming above me, Lilies, pale-pink cyclamen, roses, Whole fields lovely and inviolate,-- Me down in that fetor of weeds, Crawling on all fours, Alive, in a slippery grave. How Flowers Changed the World (Excerpt) by Loren Eiseley "...The truth is, however, that there is nothing very “normal” about nature, Once upon a time there were no flowers at all. A little while ago—about one hundred million years, as the geologist estimates time in the history of our four-billion-year-old planet—flowers were not to be found anywhere on the five continents. Wherever one might have looked, from the poles to the equator, one would have seen only the cold dark monotonous green of a world whose plant life possessed no other color. Somewhere, just a short time before the close of the Age of Reptiles, there occurred a soundless, violent explosion. It lasted millions of years, but it was an explosion, nevertheless. It marked the emergence of the angiosperms—the flowering plants, Even the great evolutionist, Charles Darwin, called them “an abominable mystery,” because they appeared so suddenly and spread so fast. Flowers changed the face of the planet. Without them, the world we know—even man himself—would never have existed. Francis Thompson, the English poet, once wrote that one could not pluck a flower without troubling a star. Intuitively he had sensed like a naturalist the enormous interlinked complexity of life. Today we know that the appearance of the flowers contained also the equally mystifying emergence of man..." Then there's this:

Poetry Blast June 25 2011

Sorry, no poems today; only songs. Guess I'm feeling lazy--or tired. Gonna turn 54 on Monday, as far as I know. Oh, and also? On Monday? An ASTEROID going to buzz the Earth, which makes us Dinosaurs very nervous. Here is my favorite version of this Steve Young song, even though it was The Eagles who had the hit with it. I believe they did some good with their version, It was beautiful, of course, and sung with no Autotune, thank you--and Mr. Young bought a house with the proceeds if I remember the story correctly, which I might not. Enjoy these; Steve is the real deal. In fact I'll hit you twice. You might (or might not) remember that Waylon had the hit with this one: ________________ Very spacial thanks to my rocket scientist bro-in-law, Joel, for this link:

poetry Blast July 1 2011

Because of (or in spite of) the fires raging around here, in canyons and on ridges--- and in the too-close-for-comfort vicinity of decades-old radioactive waste from Los Alamos...I have been thinking about what survives conflagrations of various sorts. We can see the fire from our yard at night. The fire has also encroached on thousands of acres of Santa Clara Pueblo land and the Pueblo governor has declared a state of emergency. Anyway, the first poem features a tenacious critter that, according to the poem, has bones and teeth that reach back through the ages to ancient fires and wars. The second poem is for what survives invisibly--as in social justice surviving all the blows against it...and maybe it is for Independence Day as well. Happy Fourth and please be careful with them fireworks... The Oldest Living Thing in L.A. By Larry Levis At Wilshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum Trying to cross the street. It was late, the street Was brightly lit, the opossum would take A few steps forward, then back away from the breath Of moving traffic. People coming out of the bars Would approach, as if to help it somehow. It would lift its black lips & show them The reddened gums, the long rows of incisors, Teeth that went all the way back beyond The flames of Troy & Carthage, beyond sheep Grazing rock-strewn hills, fragments of ruins In the grass at San Vitale. It would back away Delicately & smoothly, stepping carefully As it always had. It could mangle someone’s hand In twenty seconds. Mangle it for good. It could Sever it completely from the wrist in forty. There was nothing to be done for it. Someone Or other probably called the LAPD, who then Called Animal Control, who woke a driver, who Then dressed in mailed gloves, the kind of thing Small knights once wore into battle, who gathered Together his pole with a noose on the end, A light steel net to snare it with, someone who hoped The thing would have vanished by the time he got there. Poem for South African Women by June Jordan (from about 1980) Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land into new dust that rising like a marvelous pollen will be fertile even as the first woman whispering imagination to the trees around her made for righteous fruit from such deliberate defense of life as no other still will claim inferior to any other safety in the world The whispers too they intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit now aroused they carousing in ferocious affirmation of all peaceable and loving amplitude sound a certainly unbounded heat from a baptismal smoke where yes there will be fire And the babies cease alarm as mothers raising arms and heart high as the stars so far unseen nevertheless hurl into the universe a moving force irreversible as light years traveling to the open eye And who will join this standing up and the ones who stood without sweet company will sing and sing back into the mountains and if necessary even under the sea we are the ones we have been waiting for

Poetry Blast Jun 9 2011

In keeping with the latest news reports and what the mainstream media tend to focus on...this week's themes are regret and rage. Anything piss you off lately? Which do you regret more? Something you did? Or something you didn't do when you had the chance? First: Dumb Things by Paul Kelly Second: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Poetry Blast Jun 17 2011

Sublime words about life, love, and soul--from two of the best poets who never met (but what if they had??) Scroll with care...let it all sink in...think, but not too much...then go watch the Three Stooges or something. Soul, Wilt Thou Toss Again by Emily Dickinson Soul, wilt thou toss again? By just such a hazard Hundreds have lost, indeed, But tens have won an all. Angels' breathless ballot Lingers to record thee; Imps in eager caucus Raffle for my soul. _________ And Bob D. (on the same subject, perhaps?) with my favorite-from Oh Mercy: If I can Stop One Heart from Breaking --Emily D. If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain. What Good am I? written by Bob Dylan, performed by (shh! it's a surprise!) _________ Plus, also, in addition--a Bonus (today only I promise): OK I never do this. But if I may, just this once, let me exploit this forum to promote one of my old songs--(for educational purposes only). Check out my 'answer song' (from 1992) to "Man in the Long Black Coat." Go to, click on "music" and then "Artifacts of Love," then listen to The Blue-Eyed Men.

Day Job Blues

Yup, I have them.

NOLA redux

Well I just got back from the city of dreams. When Paul Sanchez hugged me and said "Welcome home, baby," I felt that I had truly come home. Enough moisture in the air, plenty oxygen, one drink felt like two--no, wait; it was the other way around...anyway, Alison and I sang some old two Headed Dog songs, plus a couple of my new ones, and, best of all, her new songs. Thanks to everyone who came out and laughed and sang with us. Dancing and singing along to Tommy Malone and the Mystik Drone was probably the highlight, unless you want to count Cyril Neville playing trap set behind a couple of really good guitar players, listening to Danny Barnes or Emeline Michel at the Fairgrounds...jogging through the cemetery on Prytania or standing on the Mississippi bank feeling the breeze and hearing the calliope. Maybe those giant oysters at Houston's? Or the berled shrimp later on? Or the crawfish bread?Or the jasmine and gardenia smells in the air at night? And yes, there are a lot of things that have changed. I could see it even this long after the flood. And some things that are still wrecked since the flood. Heard plenty of Katrina stories. My people are tough. I do wish I had gone back sooner. So good to see everyone and hear the music again.

My Orange Plastic Raincoat

A Plastic Orange Raincoat, a Little Drool of Blood, & Chaos on the Girl (a personal history based on the Beaufort Scale ) 0 calm win d speed <1 mph calm; smoke rises vertically I don’t know exactly when it started. Maybe it was the day I held the Washington Post up over my head and let it drop on the doorstep, scaring the birds and hoping to wake the inhabitants of the house. I was the paper girl. Before the sun cleared the trees, I rose and delivered. I wore my plastic orange raincoat and green Wellington boots. The headline that day was something about taped locks, about the Democratic National Committee headquarters in some fancy hotel. What happened after that we know, of course, when, maybe for the last time ever, layers of corruption peeled away and crooks were exposed. All through that spring and summer and into the next fall, we watched and waited while the White House crumbled. The self-proclaimed mighty few became prey and spectacle to the restless many. Of which I was one. 1 light air wind speed 1-3 mph direction of wind shows by smoke but not by wind vanes Or it could have been before that, when my parents announced they were going to split up. What it came down to was my father splitting. He told me a few years ago that he couldn’t stand my mother’s incessant complaining. I can understand this; she is intractable and I fear I have inherited this unpleasant trait. It served her well in her career, however, where intractability can be an admirable trait. My father moved across town, then to New York City, then to Europe—moving further and further away from my sister Amy and me. She cried and cried the day he got remarried. We found out when a neighbor called our mother after having seen the announcement in the local paper. He stayed out of the country for a long time, living in Copenhagen. We had to go to Canada to see him for some reason to do with taxes. All I know is my mother drove us to Windsor, Ontario from our home in Ann Arbor—more than once in the snow. I will not wait until they are both dead to say that I believe my parents did the best they could. Considering. 2 light breeze wind speed 4-7 mph wind felt on face; leaves rustle; wind vane moves We lived in Denmark before that. We were there when Kennedy was shot. My memory’s freeze frame: Amy and me sitting on the floor of someone’s living room and hearing the words in Danish "Kennedy er skud" barking out of some radio or TV. They loved him there. And they hated Nixon more than they loved JFK. I remember stealing black tulips from someone’s garden, but that had to have been in the summer—before the assassination. After that we went back to Michigan. My mother hated Denmark, but I loved it. I was five years old, and went to first grade at the International School, where they taught us Esperanto, along with Danish and English. When my mother took her sabbatical and went to Israel to study gender roles on the kibbutz, Amy and I went to Denmark again, where my father and his wife, Birgitte, were living. I smoked a tobacco pipe and rode the trains at all hours. At fourteen I could buy beer from the hot dog vendors but I was probably too young to babysit my tiny half-brother, Thor. I did it anyway and did the best I could. When Sara came along I often changed her diapers. She has a PhD from Harvard now. 3 gentle breeze wind speed 8-12 mph leaves and small twigs in constant motion; wind extends light flag Our house in Ann Arbor—blue-gray with a periwinkle bedroom I shared with my sister. In a way, it is the house I have somehow tried to get back to since January of 1968 when my mother got hired to teach at Howard University in Washington D.C. Before we moved from that house, Amy and I buried our doll furniture in the dark hiding space between the lilac hedge and the low juniper bushes. By the birch tree whose white bark I used to peel and write notes on. I have looked for that house and those trees ever since. The elms were cut down, one by one, over a few terrible summers. We never understood why; they looked perfectly healthy to us. And I remember staring up at telephone lines, wondering about voices humming through them and if the wires were real—in fact, I thought maybe I was dreaming all the time and I would wake up to discover I was really a caveman and none of the world I knew was real. Something real I do remember: books. I stayed up past my mother’s bedtime, reading under the covers with a flashlight...The Secret Garden, The Velvet Room, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, the entire Nancy Drew series. And something else real: the smell of worms when it rained and the smell of rotten apples near the woods we walked past on the way to school. But we moved. 4 moderate breeze wind speed 13-18 mph wind raises dust and loose paper; small branches move We moved to an apartment in Washington and my mother went off to teach at Howard and from our balcony over the tiny patch of green behind the building that was our new back yard, we watched smoke on the horizon. Finally, in April, the event happened that closed the school and blew up the city. Martin Luther King was gunned down in Memphis. 5 fresh breeze wind speed19-24 mph small-leaved trees begin to sway; crested wavelets form on inland waters The slow funeral march of 1968. We were nascent hippies, Amy and I, wearing beads and sandals, going to marches with our mother and her dashiki-clad students. We marched against the Vietnam War and we marched for civil rights. The funeral that was1968 buried Bobby Kennedy next, his funeral train crossing the country. Am I weak? I can not think of that film footage without a tear. People of every kind lined the tracks as that sad slow train rolled by with Bobby on board. And I can not stand at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial without a lump in my throat. Because I know about what happened there. Words that meant something were spoken there. We don’t hear words like that anymore. Every year, when they replay Martin’s "I Have a Dream" speech on the radio, it makes me cry. But the "I Have a Dream" speech was cotton candy compared to some of the other MLK speeches. I believe we could stand to hear some speeches like that, now. 6 strong breeze wind speed 25-31 mph large branches move; overhead wires whistle; umbrellas difficult to control We moved from D.C. to Bethesda, Maryland. My first suburb. We had a split-level house and, for the first time, Amy and I had separate bedrooms. We learned Morse code and knocked secret messages on the wall between our beds, late into the night. Around that time I was beginning to buy 45 rpm records. "Chicago" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young was one of my favorites. So your brother’s bound and gagged, And they’ve chained him to a chair... Inexorably, music began to consume my waking hours. The piano lessons continued and I practiced daily—and enjoyed it. But what was taking over was rock and roll. I bought "Proud Mary" and "Me & Bobby McGee" by Janis. I listened to "Rubber Soul" over and over again until I knew every line and every word...and I bought "High Time we Went," by Joe Cocker. And "Maggie Mae" by Rod Stewart. (And why, every time I enter a drug store, do I have to hear Cheryl Crow singing "The First Cut is the Deepest?" Didn’t Rod Stewart own that song with his voice that cuts and cuts and cuts?) I took the Beatles’ break-up personally. I followed the solo paths of George and John—one the seeker, the other the keeper of slow-burning chaos. 7 moderate gale or near gale wind speed 32-38 mph whole trees sway; walking against wind is difficult At age fourteen, I bought my first LP. "Hot Rats" by Frank Zappa. All the Beatles albums we had were courtesy of my mother, who also introduced us to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz, and Harry Belafonte. But it was when she brought home the Beatles that we were entranced. Wait a minute. My first album, the first one that was really mine? That was "Meet the Beatles," a gift from my Grandfather Harry for my sixth birthday. Harry never sat at the table. I have no memories of dinner with my mother, father and sister. But I do have memories of Grandpa Harry standing at the table, skinny, wired, telling jokes with a cigar dangling from his mouth. The way my uncle tells it, Harry’s father "bugged out" when Harry was just a kid. Harry ran around and got in trouble—just a street kid on the Lower East Side, and later he joined the Communist Party. He was a hat-cutter, then a writer for the WPA. But he never held a steady job. When the Depression hit, he drifted down to Alabama and became a Chiropodist. According to the story, he helped some people, made their pain stop. Finally, at age 60 or so, he became a TV repairman. He died of cancer at age 78. I think I am like him in some ways. 8 fresh gale or gale wind speed 39-46 mph twigs break off trees; moving cars veer My maternal grandfather, Sam, was a more serious type. He once told me "Never stop fighting for what you know is right." He had been a union organizer for the I.L.G.W.U. He and his father slept where they worked—in the sweatshops of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He and my Grandmother Ida met as they sewed facing each other at their sewing machines. The foreman separated them because they spent too much time talking. Eventually, my grandfather retired from Christian Dior, probably with the pension he fought for as shop steward. He always ate Corn Flakes because that’s the first breakfast he had at Ellis Island. He and his father sent money home to his mother and sister in Poland—the money never got to them. At my Grandfather’s funeral, an old man approached me and said, "I was from his shtetl. I saw his mother killed by a Cossack. He hit her in the chest with his rifle and killed her." It was a miracle to meet this old man. I can not understand why my mother never goes to her parents’ graves. 9 strong gale wind speed 47-54 mph slight structural damage occurs; shingles may blow away Watergate wound all through my high school sophomore and junior years. Mrs. Hendry let us watch the hearings in History class. And I devoured Watergate. I read Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Crouse, and Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President’s Men. I was going to become a journalist, like the ones in Crouse’s Boys on the Bus. At the same time, I was also learning to play the sax, and dying to play in a rock and roll band. But at that time, girls didn’t join bands. My mother was busy inventing a new field of study within her field of psychology. Psychology of Women was beginning to catch on as a discipline. She was a pioneering feminist scholar. She wrote a groundbreaking essay called “Stop the World; I Want to Get On.” When I started junior high, girls had to wear dresses. Sometime during my freshman year, they began allowing girls to wear pants. I had these jeans with plastic rhinestone studs down the sides. I had patched them to look exactly like Neil Young’s jeans on the cover of "Harvest." I loved Neil Young. I loved his lyrics and wanted to write songs like his. Ragged but right. (Years later, I saw him backstage at Farm Aid, where I was performing with one of the many smaller acts.) My mother forbade me from wearing those jeans to school. So I carried them to school in my book bag and changed in the girls’ room after I got there in the morning. And I want to emphasize the following truth: we students never stood for the pledge of allegiance. We stayed in our seats. It was one of the low voltage ways in which ALL OF US protested the war in Viet Nam. Of course there were other, higher voltage ways as well—ways in which we created chaos and upper atmosphere disturbances of a loud and frenetic nature—ways in which we got, as they say, our ya-yas out—ways that are gone from this modern world, deemed too dangerous, even for the daring. We were thinkers, you see. We lived in a world of imagination, and anyone who couldn’t ride with us, well, they were off the bus. 10 whole gale or storm wind speed 55-63 trees uprooted; considerable structural damage occurs That year, 1975, Ford pardoned Nixon. That was not, as he put it, the end of the "long national nightmare." It was the beginning of a new nightmare. It was only the end of accountability, checks and balances, and, perhaps, the end of high noon, the end of the true cowboy way. I got two gifts when I graduated high school. A manual Olivetti typewriter and a Conn alto saxophone. In my dreams they still rise from behind the sofa and grapple with each other. I went to a big university in the Midwest to learn about Freedom of Expression. I studied Journalism and History. In the back of one of my classrooms, was some faded graffiti: "Free Bobby!" That would have been Bobby Seale, the man who’d been bound and gagged in that Chicago courtroom. I studied Great Books and American Film. I loved Jack Palance in "Shane." And Jimmy Cliff in "The Harder They Come." But more than anything, I loved the records and eight-track tapes in my dorm room. The Band. Little Feat. Bob Marley. John Coltrane. Willie Nelson. Lightnin’ Hopkins... 11 storm or violent storm wind speed 64-72 mph widespread damage occurs I quit college to join a rock band. The punk scene in D.C. was not cool enough. I followed others who felt the same way and moved to New York City to become a black-clad denizen of CBGB’s basement, throwing empty beer bottles against the wall. I spent whole nights out on the fire escapes of my horrible tiny apartments, giant shadows of ailanthus altissima —the botanical name for the invasive tree-of-heaven, with its heart-shaped leaf scars—cast against the greasy bricks of the neighbors’ walls...I am not sure I can make the reader understand the chaos I brought on myself...Those fire escape hours, banging on my Olivetti, after hours of squawking punk jazz on my saxophone and bloodying the keys on my tiny electric piano...hours of breaking open black beauties and snorting the asphalt innards of those rough and nasty capsules...the chaos was upon me. It expanded time, and time expanded me. I became uprooted and tumbled through empty streets, making long shadows on rain-greased bricks. The chaos was upon me. It blew at my back, and I drifted south and then west. 12 hurricane wind speed >72 mph widespread damage occurs I explain this, all of this, so you will know why I couldn’t stop myself from taking the red Sharpie marker out of the drawer of the front desk, where I was Administrative Associate and Assistant to the Dean of the Executive Education Office of the University of Texas School of Business—and, with that red inkpen, drawing a little drool of blood, extending from the corner of President Bush’s mouth and traveling down his chin, on the cover of the Financial Times. The Financial Times, that baby-aspirin-colored British biz rag that came to our desk for free every day. My supervisor’s supervisor called me in— her version of a military tribunal—and threw the newspaper down in front of me. "DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS??" "Yes. Yes I do, in fact. Looks appropriate wouldn’t you say?" I had been about to be permanently vested in the Texas State Retirement System. But I didn’t care. Bush’s cruel governorship had bled the state dry and little remained of our once generous benefits. Once again, I was blown ahead of my own chaos...Time to move on.

goodbye Alex Chilton

You will be missed.

Duane Jarvis RIP

So sorry about this. We lost a mischievous smile and a great songwriter/ guitarist/bassist/singer... Duane was such a charming spirit--not to mention a true believer in Rock and Roll. I loved his music and the fact that he never gave up. A "Vanishing Breed," indeed. I will always have good memories of playing with him at Molly Malone's in L.A., and of traveling across TX for some gigs in the summer heat. He cheerfully put up with the lack of AC in my old Nissan truck.

Ooh La La

We just went out to hear Ian MacLagan, and Darren Hess was playing drums. After the (FANTASTIC) show, Darren and I reminisced (we go way back as it turns out!) (of course at this age almost everything goes way back, don't it?) and I reminded him of a recording adventure for which Ronnie Johnson recruited me, and I was sure Darren had been there, and then I remembered a poem I wrote for some poetry workshop I had to take during my recent foray into higher ed (more on that later...) and I decided now to post it here. Remember, if you were there, I have my license to write "creative memoir..." So here goes: *********************************** Ooh La La (for Ronnie) If you haven’t been shopping, with a migraine in the snack foods aisle at a brightly-lit convenience store in a cold dead city, choosing between the salt and vinegar chips, and the jalapeno-flavored crackers shaped like tiny fish, you wouldn’t notice when Rod Stewart’s voice breaks through the dappled haze of your pain and nausea: I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger; Ronnie Lane’s opus. And if you haven’t played B-3 on one of Ronnie’s last recordings, and afterwards he’d called you saying, Dahling you played wonderfully on my song--millions of people will hear it! and at the time you knew it was a soft little lie, because you knew he was dying... Then tears wouldn’t jump up inside you like the devil as you finger the foil bags of the cheaper brands, comparing the fat content and the prices, thinking about the vitamin B6 content of potato chips versus the salt content of the crackers shaped like tiny fish-- you wouldn’t remember singing in the basement studio of a weathered grey house perched beside the Colorado River not the one in Colorado, but the one in Texas they dammed to make Lake Travis, where aquatic plant life interferes with recreational boaters who drink too much and pull up to the dock at The Pier Bar and Grill, where you have played Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers, (or maybe London Homesick Blues?) for empire-building drunks who would rather hear Free Bird, you would not have a wheel upon which to sharpen the slim silver daggers that already menace your head; no, you would only have a lunch break, you would take no notice of the public address system, the words and music wouldn’t take you anywhere special, and you wouldn’t wonder to yourself: if you did know then what you know now, if you’d broken the shiny dreamspell of stage lights and smoke, if you had (In the one same morning that belongs to all the different nights) woken up rude, to discover that keeping it real was just too damned expensive, would you have pulled the plug? No, you would just buy your vinegar chips or your crackers and cold cola drink and you would go back to your stupid job-- but you might still wish that you knew then what you know now.

Obama's Inauguration/ Bye Bye Bush!

i am sure that the crowds of happy people were happier than I could detect from watching TV; they looked ecstatic. And Aretha's hat was the best supporting actress. Not to mention the voice that came out from under that hat. Friends who were there say it was wonderful to be among those people, and I know that not all of my friends are comfortable in a crowd. And another friend wrote to say that there was not one arrest that day. This is what happens when people are happy. I anticipate good things, but only if the obstructionistas will keep their snouts out of the way! What I like best is the sense of anticipation world-wide now that Bush is outta there. Remember, some of us lived in TX and had dubya as governor for a few years BEFORE he was president!! For me, the Bushes could not board that helicopter fast enough!

'fused memoir: King assassination

The Martins ,I was over there across the fence -- it was getting late and I was supposed to be home for 6:00. Daddy was not coming home tonight and my brother went to a basketball game ,so there was no pressure to get back early. Brett Martin and I were playing baseball.I throwing,he batting. We were hot, so we went inside to get some water. Brett’s parents were hovering around the television. The screen door slammed after us. Mr. Martin looked at us and said "Martin Luther King is Dead". FXP I was eight. I was probably watching Gilligan's Island. I have no memory of hearing news of MLK's death, though I'm sure my parents were plenty shaken up. Sounds like a good project. Good luck with it. R. Black My family was gathered in front of the TV (in the manner of all good families in the 1960s) watching _Bewitched_ when the news came. It was a fantasy or dream episode in which Samantha 'fessed up to being a witch and she, Darren, and Tabitha were subsequently interned in a Gitmo-style military camp. The network (ABC?) broke in with a special report (by the end of 1968, I had learned to dread those special reports), announcing Dr. King had been slain in Memphis. My older sister, who had been dividing her attention between _Bewitched_ and a magazine (_Look_, I think), looked up and said simply "This is Armageddon." Nearby DC quickly went up in flames. In the years to come, I would waste far too much time watching reruns of _Bewitched_, but I can't remember ever seeing how that episode ended. Pat Williams I grew up a Diplomatic brat in Bonn, West Germany between 1964 and 1970. I didn’t watch German television news as a kid, because I couldn’t grasp the sophisticated and serious language. Instead, I experienced the era’s historical events through photography’s lens.... ...I remember feeling empty when I saw the now famous shot. Several well-dressed men stand on a balcony. Arms and index fingers extended, they point frantically to the opposite building. Their suit jackets freeze in unbuttoned panic. Dr. Martin Luther King reclines in a pool of blood at their feet. Grainy white curtains across the way part ominously, revealing a pitch-black gash that seethes violence. The sky is a flat emotionless grey of taut, still heat, like the barely contained foreboding just before a thunderstorm explodes. Without color to differentiate one form from the next, the heavens merge with the scene it contains. The spatial compression amplifies the photo’s stifling claustrophobia. That same oppressive shroud hovered above the year’s subsequent tragedies in photo after black, relentless photo. (Maureen Clyne) I remember Dr. King very well, in fact was privileged to hear him give the sermon at Temple Israel in my hometown in Connecticut. I also saw him give speeches and watched news reports about him on TV when I was in high school. I wanted to go to the March on Washington but was underage and not allowed to go. I heard of Dr. King's assassination by word of mouth, since I had just dropped out of college and was living on the streets at the time. Of course I remember immediately seeking out radios and friends (and store windows) with televisions to learn more. I remember the riots that followed, despite Robert Kennedy's speech asking for calmness, which I also remember hearing played over the news. Personally I remember feeling horrified, yet somehow numb and resigned, after the assassination of President Kennedy, which still felt very recent at that time. Then soon after came the death of Robert Kennedy, so of course all three are linked in my emotions and memory, as I'm sure is true for many others. (submitted by Mandy Mercier) From Rob K: I went to my storage space and looked for but could not find the poem I wrote that very day about Dr King's assassination. It was published by our school newspaper. I was in eighth grade in a 99.99% white suburban New Jersey Jr High at the time. The dismal announcement was made over our school PA system. Disingenuously the administration added after announcing the tragic news that we would not have classes the next day. I still hope to this day that that was the reason that Dr Kings death was met with cheers and applause by my fellow students. I can still hear it ringing through those prison hallways today. On the other hand my reaction was more to my classmates' callousness and indifference. I realized then and there that I never could or would be like them. I also remember thinking a few weeks later when Bobby was murdered that there was no going back, that America would never be innocent again. (I guess meaning I would never be innocent again.) Knowing more about Dr King's murder now, I curse the FBI for their complicity. I think the FBI's harassment of Dr King is one of the most shameful aspects of our recent past. Aloha Dear Lisa, When I heard the news, we were in the old Esso service station off Ridge Road in Greenbelt, Maryland (I was eight years old and fascinated with the green dinosaur on the sign). We must have been getting our '57 Chevy repaired, since at that time my father wouldn't buy a new used car until the old one was well past 10 years old. I can picture the cluttered service station office. There was a transistor radio with the news on. There were some crackely words about somebody named King, and my parents' faces suddenly turned ashen. I asked what was wrong, and my father said that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. I'm sure I had no idea who he was, and I probably didn't know what "assassinated" meant -- though I do remember how just 2(?) months later, when Robert Kennedy was killed, the concept seemed terribly familiar to me already. Anyway I'm sure many, many questions followed in that service station office. But I don't remember the answers so much as the looks on my parents' faces as they tried to explain things to me. And what I remember best was the scary feeling of entering into a weird, eerie new world in which great people could be shot dead -- just like that. (I'm looking forward to seeing the compilation of responses...!) Love, Joel I don't remember where I was. I was 9 or 10. It wasn'ty until I moved to the south that I started feeling the power of that event. Civil Rights Leaders like Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Young were known to drink their beers at the same tavern as me. They had known Martin Luther King personally. His legacy is so strong here. (Juliet Charney) Patty Sauer: I was twelve when Martin Luther King was assassinated. The house my family lived in was literally being built around us when I was growing up. Most of the men building it were black. Some of the best brick layers in the area lived in Gum Springs which is only 3 or 4 miles away from where I grew up. Gum Springs is the oldest African American Community in Fairfax County, formally established in 1833. The foreman of my dad’s crew was from Gum Springs and his name was Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams was a quiet extremely disciplined African American who laid brick like no other man. His work was art. He and my dad were very close. Unfortunately for us, Mr. Williams’ crew members weren’t as talented, consistent and/or as trustworthy. Imagine about an acre and a half of land on a dirt road in rural Alexandria in 1968. Then imagine a very lovely german woman attempting to supervise a group of 5 or 6 black men whom may or may not have been drunk at the time all by herself. Even though Mr. Williams was the foreman he could not be there all the time and my father had a 9 to 5 job Monday through Friday! Perhaps Mom and Dad were nervous about the situation but they never spoke of it. If they ever did speak of it, I never heard a thing. Sometimes I would feel a lot of tension, but at that time I had an older sister that wanted to kill me and a younger brother that tortured animals. I was too stressed to know one stress from the other. One thing I do know, no one in my family ever used the "N" word and we were taught to respect all fellow human beings. On the evening it happened, my father was late coming home from work. Mom attempted to hug him but dad turned away. He was crying which caused mommy to cry too. I ran to hug both of them and to bring them together and I felt warm hugs back from them both. I remember thinking why do bad things have to happen before good things happen? Dad didn’t hug me often and someone important dies and he hugs me. It seemed really really sad to me on so many levels. Even though I felt so loved at that second I don’t think I ever cried as hard. When my mother asked me why I was crying I said that’s what life will be all about over and over. She asked me what I meant. I said great people dying. Hi Lis, I was a Copenhagen at that time. I recall many Danish friends stopping by to deliver their expressions of sympathy. The news was a shock but we were 3000 miles away which buffeted the shock. Love Dad hey lisa- nice to hear from you. your request for memories of 4-4-68 really made me think about where i was. but more than that, it reminded me of where i come from, and it's not pretty. i had just turned 10 years old. my family "didn't follow" politics or even current events. this was something that upitty (smart) people did. i wasn't aware of a civil rights movement, let alone a war in southeast asia. in my house it was referred to as " the n----r problem". or sometimes "the hippie problem". i used to hang out in the den and watch t.v. while my mother and stepfather played this board game called "WA-HOO" with their friends. needless to say, there was drinking and loud talking involved. i remember the broadcast being interrupted for the special report that king was dead. i didn't know who he was, but could sense that it was big. so many people in tears. this was obviously a man who was loved and respected by many. i went in the dining room and told the grown-ups what i had just heard and seen on t.v. they hardly looked up from their game and i remember what they each said like it was yesterday. i will not repeat it. this still breaks my heart. this was my family. these were my role models. i was their little kid. fuck. Ralph Adamo: Funny -- I guess it's the 40-year part that got me thinking about this, which I have not on most of the past King assasination anniversaries -- but I was sitting in a room in Loyola's Danna Center, upstairs, part of a small gathering for one of Loyola's 'Consortium' events, featuring a half dozen visiting writers. The writer for the evening was a black man from an island nation, who spoke with a deeply British baratone, and during his remarks, someone (the chair of English I believe) burst into the room, sweating profusely and looking awful, and told us he had very bad news...The program did not continue. We all sat stunned for a long time. The speaker (I'm sorry, can't get his name back, a novelist then in his early 40s) finally said some things, quietly, as if talking to himself. That's about it. My memories of RFK's assasination are actually much more vivid and continuous, if you decide to continue with this line of recollection. I can tell you the whole thing was easily the beginning of the end of my belief in politics and almost in words themselves. (Dr. King stuff was on NBC news just now, and my son, who has been taught about him in 1st grade said hey what's he doing in color. Then later Brian whatshisname the anchor said isn't that something, seeing him in color after all these years of thinking about him in black and white. Notice though, these days nobody stands up and says stuff like that. Nobody talks at all really except for fools, and then the occasional politician.) I was on a vacation with my family in a Corvair station wagon traveling through the South. I remember we'd visited Lookout Mountain, and bought souvenirs, my next eldest brother Jim insisting I get the rebel cap because he got the Union one, and we couldn't have the same one. We continued on to Alabama to visit friends of my parents and it must have happened then, because the trip was cut short and we hurriedly drove back home to Ohio with reports of sniper fire on Interstate overpasses and my souvenir packed away somewhere out of sight. I didn't really like it anyway. ( Mark Patterson)