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Lisa Mednick Powell: News

old review - January 27, 2018

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!! - November 8, 2017

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. - November 3, 2017

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? - December 5, 2012

same old wine in a new bottle.

OOPS - NO Poetry for January 16 - October 16, 2012

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 - February 5, 2012

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! - January 22, 2012

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.)

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 - January 8, 2012

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:
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 - January 1, 2012

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 - December 20, 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.
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 - December 11, 2011

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 - December 10, 2011

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

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.


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.


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!


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.


Dulce ridens, dulce loquens,
she shaves her legs until they gleam
like petrified mammoth-tusk.


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?


"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.


"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.


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.


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:

December 4 Poetry Blast - December 10, 2011

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.)

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 - December 10, 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
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 - December 10, 2011

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 - December 10, 2011

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.

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.
Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any he that utters them.
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.
My poverty, but not my will, consents.
I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.
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.
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 - December 10, 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.

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 - December 10, 2011

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:
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)
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'
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-
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
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
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an'
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

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'

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

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

Oct 30 Poetry Blast - December 10, 2011

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:

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 - December 10, 2011

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 - December 10, 2011

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 - December 10, 2011

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 - December 10, 2011

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 - December 10, 2011

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


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 - December 10, 2011

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.
(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
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