Tuesday, November 16, 2010

love not given lightly

It was love from
one who feared
carbon monoxide.



She liked the taste of blood on the blade.
Tattooing every obsession upon her canvas--
her page.

The tangible must be remade
It's likeness hidden,
destroyed, or rearranged.

Pure things are
what move through
grasping fingers.

What we chase

What we wish to possess

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dark Was The Night -- Cold Was The Ground

It wasn't the filthiest hotel room I'd ever been in -- wasn't the cleanest either. That distinction is held by the -an eleven story syphilis infected body on deaths door that was located somewhere on the outskirts of Atlanta proper. There were two obese hookers in the lobby watching a 15” TV with rabbit ears, which seemed odd given that the hotel supposedly had cable. The carpeting in the room had at least six visible stains larger than a fist. And I'm pretty sure the one near the window was blood. Later, this spot would make more sense because when I pulled the curtains open to see the view, there were four bullet holes in the Plexiglas. Given that I was on the third floor, my hypothesis wasn't entirely improbable.

I was sitting on the edge of the queen size bed strumming my guitar, trying to get it in tune. The guitar was a beat up Martin D-18 which was left to me by a man named Skeeter Dixon, who I used to play with every Sunday afternoon until he had a stroke. His picking hand was now a slightly curled dead appendage. Between that and his mouth hanging loose and his speech dramatically impaired, Skeeter slid into a deep funk. After he got out of the hospital, everybody came by trying to cheer him up, but his eyes always looked vacant. After a few weeks he stopped letting people come by to visit or play music for him.

His sister and her husband lived across the street and they saw to his needs. One evening when his sister stopped by after work to make him some dinner, she found him sitting in his recliner, lifeless. Blind Willie Johnson was playing on the stereo. Supposedly, he wasn't cold to the touch yet, but he was definitely gone. His sister declined to have an autopsy and the cops and doctors were more than willing to call it natural causes, seeing as he'd just had a significant stroke. More than likely this was the cause, but almost as fast as word got around of Skeeter's passing, rumors started about what actually happened. Before Skeeter was even in the ground most people were convinced that his ex-wife Dora Mae had stopped by and given him a hot shot of heroin to end his misery.

Once I had the guitar sounding the way it should, I began playing Blind Willie's “Dark Was The Night-- Cold Was The Ground.” Somewhere in the midst of it I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror that was mounted above the dresser across from the bed. The dark circles and three days of beard growth were only gentle signs of what I had been through these last few days, months, and years. I smirked a bit then started up playing another Blind Willie tune called “I'm Gonna Run To the City of Refuge.” Running was what I was doing at this point. I don't know if this one bar town in the middle of the desert somewhere between the Arizona border and Los Angeles was a place of refuge, but it was where I needed to be. To fully understand the circumstances it's best to know why I ended up there in the first place.

Friday, November 12, 2010

From Bob Dylan

"A poet to me is someone that wouldn't call themselves a poet"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy (A Review)

Warren Zevon's 1978 album, Excitable Boy, might be one of the best albums to come out in the 1970's. At the very least it's a necessary antithesis to the mellow SoCal sound of The Eagles and Jackson Browne. The songs on the album have all the Zevon trademarks; flair, biting dark humor, and a wonderful collection of antiheroes.

The album opens with “Johnny Strikes Up The Band” which is kind of tribute to Rock N' Roll.

“Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner” is Zevon showing off his intelligence with a dynamic piece of historical fiction that was co-written with David Lindell, an ex-soldier of fortune. The song is a dark ballad about a mercenary seeking revenge against the man who killed him deep in the Congo. “Time, time, time for another peaceful war/ Norway's bravest son/ But time stands still for Roland 'til he evens up the score.” When the now headless Roland finally tracks down his murderer, “Roland aimed his Thompson gun - he didn't say a word/ But he blew Van Owen's body from there to Johannesburg”. Unfortunately for Roland, killing Van Owen doesn't end his torment and his is forced into an afterlife of mercenary work including a strange run in with Patty Hurst.

Next up is the classic tune “Excitable Boy” which in grotesquely humorous tale of a boy and his obsessions.

“Werewolves of London” is Zevon's most famous song. It's also possibly one of the silliest videos ever made. The song is a comedic tale of a stylish werewolf loose in London. He eats beef chow mein, has a tailor, and even drinks pina coladas at Trader Vic's. “ahhhooooo werewolves of London/ Draw blood.”

After the comedy comes the heartbreak. “Accidentally Like a Martyr” is one of Zevon's best songs. “We made mad love/ Shadow love/ Random love/ And abandoned love/ Accidentally like a martyr/ The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder.” The song was notably covered by Bob Dylan and also provided him with the title of his 1997 release Time Out Of Mind.

“Nighttime In The Switching Yards” is Zevon getting down and funky, including a fat bass line and a full-on P-funk guitar riff.

“Veracruz” takes the album in another direction. Opening with the line “I heard Woodrow Wilson's guns”, the song is another piece of historical fiction. The song is about the occupation of Veracruz by the United States military in 1914. President Wilson had ordered the Navy and Marines to take control of the port and city after he received word that Germany was sending weapons to Victorino Huerta, who had taken control of the Mexican Government, much to the displeasure of Wilson. Ironically the arms shipment to Mexico, originated from the Remington Arms company in the United States. The guns and ammunition were shipped from Hamburg, Germany, to Mexico allowing Remington Arms a means of skirting the American arms embargo. Showing yet again, that capitalism always beats out nationalism.

“Tenderness on the Block” is possibly the least interesting song on the album. It's a quick and simple song about a young girl coming of age.

Excitable Boy ends with an anthem and Hunter S. Thompson's theme song, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.” The narrator of the song finds trouble at every turn, whether he's taking home a waitress who happens to be affiliated with the Russians (before the fall of communism), gambling in Havana, or hiding out in Honduras. But like any crafty and desperate man, he keeps going even when he's “stuck between a rock and a hard place/and down on my luck”. He's also smart enough to ask for help when things get truly desperate, “Send lawyers, guns and money/The shit has hit the fan.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3 Questions......

 Has anyone ever rapped about Curt Flood?

What's more terrifying, a koala mad with blood lust or a clown with a sense of entitlement?

If some may sink and some may float, which would you be?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dempsey and Firpo

The men in the front
have Modigliani eyes.

Brothers or lovers
Lunia, Jeanne, Anna.

Two men,
in the guise of pugilists,
try and kill
without being

Firpo's face,
all angles and bangs
watches the aftermath
of a single blow.

Dempsey in white,
knocked soundly,
over the middle rope
into the arms
of sweaty gentlemen
and the sporting press.

Lights in the distance

Frozen in a moment

In a daze
mistaken for
approaching trains.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

under the big tent

I dream you in silver,
a star in this sideshow.
I dream you giving the whip
to the lion's tamer.

I dream you giving yourself,
but not your soul.
We are like Siamese twins
waltzing across the circus floor.

The clown faced organist
playing the soundtrack
to our secrets and lust games.
I've got promises in my pocket
but no key to open the door.

I've got the trapeze girl's kisses
but my heart isn't hers to adore.

I've got the strongman's threats
but no desire to refuse you.

We are the knife thrower and his exquisite assistant
clinging to the ethereal,
while the bearded lady sings her hymns.

Where are you tonight?
The ringmaster will be here soon
to deliver my fate.