My Funny Valentine

Soundtrack “My Funny Valintine” by Chris Botti.

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There’s a finality to the end of a summer season, and once again I’m reminded that there’s no turning back, such is the nature of life. Yet, there’s a longing for something familiar, a desire to hold on to someone or something. I spend my life reassembling memories only to find that at the end I’m several pieces short of a complete picture. All the traffic-lights have conspired to greet me red. The road that threads its way down west cliff is gray, the sky is gray, the sea is gray—— it’s a world of gray on gray——I’m making my way from here to anywhere——I’m driving just to be driving, just to give me that sensation of getting somewhere—-that I’m moving on and past this grayness. The sun spins, the earth circles, the universe exhales——summer turns her face away from me——the cold breath of winter is on my neck——yesterday is irretrievable—-and such is the sadness of time elapsing, of age whispering in my ear———like an impressionist watercolor, another season blurs and fades—— into another. I feel myself creeping closer to nowhere——

I’d call you, but I no longer know what city you call home. What would I say if I met you again in a windy park? I imagine you dressed in a lose fitting sweater, your hair tousled by the wind. You’ve readied yourself for the birth of autumn. And me, I’m still dressed in shorts and flip flops, clinging to a dying summer. Once again, we find ourselves falling out of one another’s season. Does “true” love have an expiration date? I don’t even know what’s“true” anymore. My life has been a series of let downs without you in it. I hoped you could be replaced, and god knows I’ve tried———.

Rain, now on my windshield like little diamonds in the exaggerated light of oncoming traffic. Chris Botti’s melancholy trumpet plays like a soundtrack that accompanies my reverie. Inside, you occupy the warmer rooms of my being, you haunt the quieter spaces of my soul. Outside, I irrationally scan crowds of strangers searching for your face—-failed love makes fools of us all.

If I knew then, what I know now, it would not matter where the road led us, as long as we were together. But the past leaves no room for marooned passengers. I pay my fare in silent movies that I replay over and over in my head. I see you in vignettes———visions of us walking mountain trails, the beaches we laid on, the dark drives through shiny cities, the sensation of you giving yourself to me, the smell of your hair, the taste of your skin, the electricity in your touch, the soft sound of your sighs. With you, making love was always so comfortable, so easy, so natural.  I’d come to know your body better than my own.

Good poetry makes you believe that each word written was composed personally for you. Like someone reached between the bones of your rib cage and pulled out your heart and spilled out all of its quivering secrets . And for you my love, this is true, for you, I bent and stretched my words into a net so I might catch you.

Feeding The Lion

Unknown

For Haley and Taylor.

Soundtrack “It’s For You” by Pat Matheny

So ya wanna be a writer. Writing takes enormous courage, at least for those who dare to stand in the center-ring and call themselves the master of ceremonies. When I say master of ceremonies, I mean standing in the center-ring with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other—–cracking that whip as you attempt to tame language, coaxing those unruly words to jump through rings of fire. It’s being honest and pure——it’s as insufferable as siphoning ink from an anemic soul. To go to such places you must first face down who you are or who you thought you were–you must be prepared to shine a light on your blind spots and shake hands with your darkest shadows. What’s in there? What’s way deep down inside me, that thing I’ve carried with me from the womb, that shameless thing that’s a part of me like a birth mark in the shape of original sin. If you can go that far down then you’ve earned the privilege to call yourself the zoo keeper of words. You have fed the lion, but you have not tamed him. Beauty, danger and fear are the bars that cage our confessions. A long lost friend once told me “Where the beauty of the soul is, there’s always danger.”

The next step is to put your head in that lions mouth. Choose honesty over insecurity. Allow space for venerability, don’t be anonymous——be outrageous, be original not a trend chaser, be forthright rather than pious and vain——take no-ones word other than your own, search everywhere for yourself and then let it all go, unleash your restrained emotions and when all the stiff mannequins misunderstand you, tell them to fuck off———it’ll be scary, but it’ll make you feel awake and alive—–trust that it will be worth it. Your words are your weapons, surrender is your shield. Make shit happen, even if you have to make shit up as you go along, walk the high-wire, be a fire eater, play the clown, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you’ll learn to orchestrate your circus. Be persistent, have tenacity, be a seeker. Be good to yourself, be kind to others, smile, even when you don’t feel like it—-take the body and the mind will follow. .

Life is a beautiful thing——-people like you make this so.

 

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The Titanic Swim Team

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Soundtrack “Cascada” by Jesse Cook

This life, man how it pisses me off, locked in, locked out——-passing me by, I don’t know——— I walk around with this old skeleton key, and every lock I slip it into refuses to give way. Lovers, friends, careers, hopes and dreams—even god, they all seem dead-bolted and out of reach. I wanted it all so bad, I wanted everything, I wanted to know something or someone in a better way, a closer way, cause I’m afraid that someday it’ll be to late——-I can’t find my way in——or is it my way out that leaves me feeling orphaned. Another rainy hungover Sunday, cold black coffee, black and blue marks, questions marks, exclamation marks—-moving on, moving out, falling down, falling apart—-how many overs make an end?

I admire but a few professions. The boxer, the standup comedian and the poet. They perform naked, no props, no cue cards, turning the disconnected nothingness of life into form and art. They allow us to take mundane moments and eye them up close as we tumble them over in our hands, like “curiosities” or “what nots” at a rummage sale——It’s a fine line between junk and treasure, truth and consequence, fate and happenstance, synchronicity and chaos———— the “you’s and me’s” and “what use to be’s”——-I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, because beauty is not so much what’s reflected in a mirror—–it’s what lies behind the reflection.

And baby, how I wish I could call you up and ask you to come over, but that number you once pressed into the palm of my heart at 2:00 am under a flickering failing streetlamp is now disconnected, no forwarding address, you’ve gone underground, unlisted, unavailable, I’m just another one of your gypsy memories——- I wish I were more like you, an emotional hitchhiker, leap frogging my way from here to there at another’s expense.

A prize fighter knows the score. He’ll take the hardest punch you can muster and then throw one back at you just as hard, until someone is so busted up that they can’t answer the bell. His only way out of this is through you. You think you’re tough, then bring it on brah! Sweat, spit, tears, Vaseline and the taste of blood fill his split lipped mouth. Rights, lefts, upper cuts, jabs, body shots——with back against the ropes, the jeers of the crowd fade until all he hears is the sound of his own labored breath——-  and from deep down there comes the throb of blood surging through his veins. Don’t get pissed or take it personally if he fucks you up, cause mister, he comes from a neighborhood where there’s only one bone for every five dogs——-

Oh my god, listen to how that comedian weaves rhythm and tempo into a syncopated groove like a jazz tenor player creating tension and release as he steers his ship between awkward truth and twisted absurdity. His riffs cut through tendons and bones with the deftness of a surgeon wielding a chainsaw——-daring those out there in the safe darkness of audience to laugh till it hurts, until tears stream down their cheeks. Killing them softly as he makes them contort and grimace with the intensity of an epileptic orgasm——cause the better part of foreplay is always laughter, and right beneath that G spot lies her funny bone. And I never doubted that Charlie Chaplin had more groupies than Gene Simmons and Elvis combined. If you can get her to laugh, the world is your oyster. Or, if you can get her to laugh, her oyster is your world——-“Drummer!——Rim shot please!”

Then there’s the melancholy poet bending words like forged metal into swords that cut to the marrow as he dissects cumbersome words such as love, and truth, and beauty, doing his best to make you cry until you laugh, cause even the saddest of life conditions eventually reaches a point of hilarity——life——- at its best is a tragic comedy, at its worst, an epitaph marred by graffiti and eraser marks——-

I’ll add one more profession to my list. Magician. He suspends reality as he toys with your sense of certainty. How did that rabbit get into that top-hat? How did his beautiful assistant disappear into thin air? He snaps his finger and a white dove appears, the ace of hearts appears at the top of the deck at his command——his cane becomes a bouquet of flowers. We’re becoming children again, believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Life is magic, like the color blue, like the sky blue, like love at first sight, like the purity of children, like ocean sunsets and mountain thunderstorms————like free candy on Halloween….

But adults lose their sense of wonder. Hope and dreams are the currency of youth. Age causes the investment to become devalued by routine and complacency——somehow discounting the small miracles that appear daily——Why? I don’t know, but it scares me when I see those my age stiffen with rust like the Tin Man——If they only had a heart rather than a brain stuffed with straw. Maybe under it all, they’re concealing a cowardly lion. Fear is the lock we must all learn to pick. It takes a titanic amount of courage to swim through this life, cause an ocean of frozen tears can sink the mightiest of ships.

I argue with god, but I’m not sure if it’s him that I‘m taking to task or just one of the cast of voices that loiter in my head. They mumble to me like homeless bums hiding in the shadows of a urine stenched alley. The chorus of voices implore me to watch my cities burn, to stop rattling the chains across my doors——to give up on you, to give up on me——-to severe all connections with an innocence lost.

I”m looking for love by brail, cause love can’t be seen, it’s only felt—-like music. Every word you speak has the power of a million waves, wearing away my walls and causing my granite facade to cave-in like castles made of sand. And did I tell you that I still love you, it’s not a choice, it’s an addiction, stronger than herion, more like oxogen than a drug, something that comes to me in gasps, and at night I suffocate in my bed. And if your phone rings at 3:00 am, it could be me, just wanting to hear the sound of your voice one more time. The right key turning the right lock is a once in a life time chance, like Sir Lancelot pulling a sword from a stone to become king—-but you cut my hair and broke my crown—–

Make no mistake, this is a world where the keys you’ve been given seldom match the locks that you find yourself stranded behind. It’s a place of paddle locks, deadbolts and door chains with squinty eyed peepholes. If ya want in, if what ya need is behind that door, if that’s where your dream lies, where you passion leads you, then you’re gonna have to kick that fucker in, your gonna have to bust it down, you’re gonna have to throw yourself against it, again and again, with all you might——until you get in, or get out, or get through————until you are allowed passage to that place where you know that you were meant to be, that place where you belong.

Second to Silence

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Jazz is night music. Its color is a warm dark hue of indigo or a buzzing red neon light filtered through a hazy blue smoke. Its unremitting solo’s meander above the cacophony of whispers, clinking glasses, hoots, hollers and howlin’ laughter. It smells musky and sweet like jasmine perfume on a women’s heated body, its flavor the mixture of Juicy Fruit gum and nicotine on her warm damp breath in my ear. It’s mysterious and sensual, fueled by the improvisation of a moment, that moment.

Jazz knows no age, unlike rock and roll with its youthful angst and rebel demeanor. Rock reincarnates itself every generation, its thundering three chord progression rattling the walls of the established rules of convention. Its devotees are dressed in black trench coats or multi colored tie-dye. Some wear skulls and cross bones, while others sport rainbows and peace signs. Its sound is loud and angry. It’s impatient and shockingly rude, and then it will suddenly render a tender love story about first love, lost love or no love at all. The lyric’s demand a change to the inequities of this sad life, its practitioners opening their chaste new eyes and ears to the atrocities of their parents, boldly pointing out their inexcusable mistakes and follies. And that drumbeat keeps thrashing away on beats two and four of each measure.

Gospel and blues come from the same place. They speak with the voice of the soul, from worship and praise to misery and sorrow. It can be heard in the rapturous choir shout of one slain in spirit, as well as the grave moan rising from deep in the throat of a sullen bluesman or a share cropper singing from his sagging paint chipped porch to a field of cotton that refuses to grow and to all the women who’ve wronged him and that boss man who don’t give a damn how he suffers in the dust and swelters under that blistering delta sun. Its angst distilled by that wretched dominate seventh chord and ladled from the devils caldron itself, then coaxed out of a bedraggled guitar by a merciful calloused hand. It’s in the god forsaken growl of a B-3 Hammond organ, the shake and rattle of a jubilant tambourine, and everything of heaven and hell, the sacred and the profane, choked on and spat out.

Classical is a concoction of swirling violins, sawed cellos, surging brass and woodwinds with the fracas of timpani, drum and cymbal in close tow. Its fragrance blows in the breeze like the scent of pine needles on a warm July Sunday afternoon. Classical is an extension of nature, its suits, chorales and movements seem to unfold from itself, like galaxies of stars that go off into infinity, breaching the void with unimaginable beauty, stretching across eternal light years, making time and distance meaningless . And the moment is always present, all is one, and one is all. Its color is the refraction of light through a prism. I don’t know how it works, but its miraculous to behold, like God or Zen thoughts, which are no thoughts at all, its composition is only second to silence.