Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reunion Gig (after Ginger Baker)

i saw you beowulf at your drum kit
fifty years since grendel
since the breakup of the band
that made you royal

now you're ordinary
the speed of your sticks slowed to slow competence
your old guitarist's slower too but his fingering's more subtle
your old bassist needs a crutch to stand up

but you pound now     hard
as you did when you were worshipped
and your slow courage drives the music forward
and the songs still stand brave
at the mouth of the dragon's lair
where he wakens
as in the old days
and waits for your solo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paintings For Tourists

paintings now by a schlock artist
the purple onion stands a chinese nightclub
cigarettes burn low the last vestiges of high school
my heart is a building pass
in my shirt pocket

yes     yes     my friends are dead
begging blood while leaning
against buildings in the financial district
brandy turns into cherries
sheep on the street look up
hoping that stuffed potatoes will fall from the sky

you sat here once
the chair you sat on is tamed
bicycle messengers ride in your jugular vein
you just exhaled the blacktop of columbus avenue
now worn it still never refuses to shine
from The Troubles (1993)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For Joe Speer Two Days After His Death

if i believed in such things
i'd have known the vision meant you were fine
visiting me no interrupting reveries
as a large yellow dog on a red sandy cliff
staring at me in what might have been anger
two nights after you'd died in albuquerque
i felt the anger     then my own shock
and confusion after feeling both
if i'd opened my eyes i'm sure i'd have seen you
right across the room
then i felt the love and the hurt
as you stood more solid than dream
then faded to the color
of the insides of my eyelids

     the hillside on which you stood
was neither california nor new mexico
the land was wild land is wild
belief is wild and it's scary to be so tame
that you don't believe anymore
did you visit me after you'd died?
were you making the rounds
of all your old friends?
i think that you'll be a happy dog
or maybe untame a happy coyote