Welcome to Chicago

I didn’t get a lot of video or pictures of Chicago. It was rainy for a few days and then I was stuck working on the computer the rest of the time. Here is a little short made with what I did get… Terri

CHICAGO CLIMAX

Chicago was a big breakdown of things, sort of deconstruction (if you must).

Poooo et treeeee…

Pooooo… ems

Slam!

Spoken Word.

Hip Hop.

What’s the difference?

Performance.

Cultural Identity.

Cultural Differences.

Different cultures singing the same exact tune with the same tone and inflection. What is that about?

Politically Correct poetry. Too political. Too obvious. Too sentimental.
Too, Too anything.

When all that spoken word and slam talk came around I was out in the cuts growing bromeliads and none of it made a difference to me.

There was the “language” and experimental stuff and that didn’t mean anything to me.

There was a lot of talk about Beat Poetry.

Meat Poetry.

Street poetry.

What about get up and dance poetry?

Poetry of the outriders, inroaders, dieharders, decoders…

What about multi-media poetry and art?

Thank God or Mammon for the internet.

http://www.bigbridge.org

Anybody could put up stuff and all the stuff they wanted on the internet. The game changed. Everyone was a publisher.

But the whiners at the gate, gatekeepers, critics, whined “there’s too much poetry, too much art on the internet” and “nobody can control it” or “tell us what is good and what is bad.”

And man, those critics sure could publish a whole lot of “sanctioned” crap. Everything published had to be “affiliated”, so they could fund it with grants, advocate it in university classrooms, study it at backslapping literary conventions.

Cocktail parties with wine and hummus.

“Sour grapes” is what they say, if you complain about it.

None of that added up to anything for me. I had my own way of figuring things out.

But, nobody gets anything done without a little kindness from strangers (see Philip Whalen).

Still, I created my own doors, all ego, and walked right the fuck in.

ROCKPILE IS AN OPEN DOOR!

Whitmanic, Democratic, a Big Tent Party! Come on in!

* (Video of the performance at The Hideout is at the end of this blog entry...)

Welcome to the inside of The Hideout.

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The Hideout, Chicago, before the show.

We finally had a sound person we could count on to run the sound board and do the mixing. The Hideout is a performance venue with a long history of great performers. So we were in good hands.

Bob Malone Band and Spider Trio showed up early to do sound check. We waited the customary 45 minutes after the announced show time before we began the show.

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As far as I’m concerned we owe the success of our Chicago visit to Larry Sawyer and Karen Ivanis.

First, Karen, Angel of the Pineapple, hooked us up with hospitality at the Hotel Allegro, so we had a place to camp out in total comfort for the week. It was Kimpton room service that inspired us to have a ROCKPILE party in David’s room, I think we had two. Terri filmed it. We tried to do some shop talk, but the party slowly broke down in blabber and blather as was our custom and so it was perfect. Maybe Terri will post some of that footage. Terri and I had a view from our 15th floor room of the city, and the train station below. And an enormous plasma screen TV. Again, the bed was a little too soft, slightly crooked, but it was plush and encouraging. We got an “amenity” the moment we arrived, a bottle of red wine, which we passed on to David. That was also encouraging.

The bellman, from India, who took our bags up to the room was very curious about what we were doing there and when he found out about ROCKPILE he was all gushing about Walt Whitman. He said there wasn’t enough poetry in modern life, and wondered about all the other great American poets. I tipped him large. He explained that he had had a very bad day and that we had turned the whole thing around for him. People had been mean to him, detached and cold. “See, that is what I am saying, we need more poetry.” Ironically, Karen thought the
Kimpton would be interested in ROCKPILE because it was artsy, but she didn’t realize fully that poetry is the poor person’s art and the art/fashion that inspired the Kimpton is a rich (or wanna be rich) people’s art. Is that possible?

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And then there is our true friend Larry Sawyer who set up the venue at the Hideout and moderated the symposium at Columbia College. Larry is an old friend. His work with milk magazine has been an inspiration, his poetry series at Myopic Books is landmark, and of incredible personal importance to me. Larry introduced me to Ira Cohen. So on some cosmic level Ira Cohen is the mad guiding spirit that drives this gathering in Chicago. Larry got the venue, Larry got the readers, Larry moderated the symposium, Larry set up Facebook pages and sent out announcements.

And there were other very important contributors who made the Chicago leg of ROCKPILE great, who should be acknowledged, like Dan Godston, who helped gather some musical forces and spread the word of ROCKPILE, and Francesco Levato who gave us voice and notice through the Poetry Center, and Art Lange and Tony Triglio who set up the Columbia College venue for the Symposium. And then the musicians who worked with us at the Hideout included the awesome Spider Trio with Dan McNaughton on bass, Bryan Pardo (saxophone) and Tim Keenan(drums). Also on the ticket was the perennial Bob Malone (piano) and Bob Malone Band with Marc Singer (drums), Christa Hillhouse (bass). We were honored to be joined by surprise guest Ellen Miller (harmonica).

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Marc Singer

Christa Hillhouse/>

Guest readers at the Hideout and panel members at Columbia College included, Larry Sawyer, Art Lange, Dan Godston, Dan McNaughton, Francesco Levato, and Tony Triglio. Joe Wetteroth and Tom Hibbard were our “surprise” guests at the symposium.

More about the symposium later…

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Back to Larry Sawyer

Though there was a ton of people in Chicago who helped put the show together, it was Larry who put Chicago together. Larry is a revolutionary force and viva la revolucion!
Check out milk magazine and
Myopic series

*

We checked into the Hotel Allegro, agreeing to pay 45 dollars a night for parking, and stopped in the lobby for a couple of complimentary glasses of red wine. Then we started looking for dinner. Problem with dinner around the Allegro, in the Loop (theater district) is that many of the less expensive restaurants are closed after 10:00pm, so we ended up in the Kinzie Chophouse, a fancy steak joint, , and blew a couple days food budget. My steak was great, huge, tender, and actually tasted like steak. Terri was not happy with her seafood and pasta. The mussels were huge and bulbous and looked like they had been grown hydroponically on the bottom of the Bay of Fundy by some mad scientist and this grossed her out. She was also expecting a fresh, chunky red, tomato sauce and got a creamier pink sauce. She doesn’t care much for creamy or pink. David had all of the fancy wines and liquors he could desire on his menu so he was not worried, nor feeling any pain, so ventured beyond the chicken or salmon Caesar and took a shot at the waiter’s “highly recommended” (first sign of a problem) mahi tuna. He should have stayed with the Caesar. The mahi was skimpy, tough, and overcooked. (Most likely old, which is why the waiter was pushing it)
.Did you ever imagine this blog would turn into a Food Channel moment?

As David remarked several times, he was always hungry, even after meals. He was eating more food on the road than he ever ate at home. Collectively we gained 20 pounds on the trip.

Talking about food, we had a great visit to The Portillo with The Bob Malone Band. Chicken parmagiana for me, another disappointing mahi sandwich for David, and Terri ate a huge slab of lasagna smothered in a bright red sauce. I am still thinking I should have ordered the Italian sausage sandwich but tried to protect my road weary stomach from a miscalculation of spices. The Malone Band ate Chicago hot dogs in unison. I was jealous.
portillo's

We also ate at the Greek Islands Restaurant with Larry Sawyer and Dan Godston after the Symposium at Columbia College. That was a treat. Though I got so excited by the bread that by the time my lamb came I was already for desert. But the lamb was good. David had sea bass and Terri had red snapper. I don’t know what anyone else had. I was too busy eating. This dinner was a blur. There is a great picture of all of us full and bundled up for the cold outside of the restaurant waiting for a cab.

Dan Godston, David Meltzer, Larry Sawyer and Michael Rothenberg

Again, no pictures of Terri.

Why do women always carry the cameras on these trips? I think of Joanne Kyger’s poem about her trip to India with the big shot Beats.

Poison Oak for Allen

Here I am reading about your trip to India again,
With Gary Snyder and Peter Orlovsky. Period.
Who took cover picture of you three

With smart Himalayan mountain backdrop
The bear?

–Joanne Kyger

(I think we need to do a Terri Carrion photo portfolio to set the record straight.)

We ate in the restaurant downstairs and it was mostly bad but not too expensive. One night we did get to watch some Church raffle for an electric car, a Tesla, from our seat at the booth window. The server comped the margaritas because they lost our dinner order. I ordered a pizza with extra cheese and it injured me for most of the next day.

Another time, at lunch, I sent back my salad because it was all spinach and tasted too green and I asked them for something with crunch and not all those nouvelle lettuces but they brought me soggy spinach. I sent it back for salmon Caesar but by the time I got it I wasn’t hungry.

Food, food, food, forget about it.

*

We were in Chicago for The Hideout ROCKPILE performance and symposium at Chicago College. That’s what I should be talking about. Right?

Okay, The Symposium, nobody came to it except Tom Hibbard and Joe Wetteroth. A great audience but spare. The panel was deftly moderated by Larry Sawyer and included David Meltzer, Terri Carrion, Art Lange, Dan McNaughton, Tony Triglio, Dan Godston and me. So we talked among ourselves and invited Tom and Joe to join the panel from the audience.
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This was the fourth symposium of the tour. The first was at Institute for Policy Study in DC, hosted by Sarah Browning and Split This Rock, the second was at CUNY, hosted by David Henderson and Ammiel Alcalay, then one big gathering at  St. Mark’s Poetry Project in NYC hosted by The Poetry Project.

I can see why I have taken so long to write about Chicago. We had a lot going on in Chicago.

Okay, so here we were with nobody in the audience but Tom and Joe and a highly qualified panel of speakers. Why didn’t anybody come? Does it matter that nobody came? Maybe nobody was interested in the subject. Here is Larry Sawyers blurb on the subject:

“About: Since Kenneth Rexroth and Langston Hughes first collaborated with jazz musicians (but then Jelly Roll Morton claimed to have collaborated with authors, as well) poetry and music have enjoyed a special relationship. The subject ranges far and wide: Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, Allen Ginsberg’s manic rock combos, modern hip-hop, the singer-songwriter tradition of troubadours such as Bob Dylan and Lou Reed–the relationship between music, specifically jazz, and poetry has been percolating for generations. Sit in with these artists as they discuss this tempestuous relati . Panelists include: David Meltzer, Michael Rothenberg, Art Lange, Dan McNaughton, Tony Trigillio, Ed Roberson, Dan Godston, Larry Sawyer, Francesco Levato, Terri Carrion, Bob Malone, and others.”

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Ed Roberson and Bob Malone had to cancel.

Or maybe it was booked for the wrong day, or wrong time.

Maybe the professors didn’t blackmail their students. Or maybe, as is often said, “You can never tell with these things”. A vague but adequate enough answer to the question: “Why didn’t anybody show up?”

I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong time
I’d of said the right thing
But I must have used the wrong line
I been in the right trip
But I must have used the wrong car
My head was in a bad place
And I’m wondering what it’s good for

– Dr. John

Does it matter that nobody, but Tom and Joe, showed up? Isn’t it good enough that we got together and had an interesting discussion about a subject WE cared about?

My opinion is this. If you are going to put out the effort to get people to come then you ought to want people to come and if they don’t come you feel like you put out your hand and nobody took it. That feels weird.

Okay, so nobody came and it felt weird. But we had a good talk amongst ourselves. Most interesting part was when Larry Sawyer asked each of us to recall our earliest and most profound moment when music figured in our lives. I recalled my mother and father singing “Sonny Boy” to one another. That was memorable. And I remember dancing around the house to Harry Belafonte singing Banana Boat Song over a recently installed house-wide Hi Fidelity system. I could have danced for ever but eventually my mother discouraged that as being a little too “gay”.

“Day-O!”

And then we went to the Greek Island Restaurant where I immersed myself in pita.

*

Terri took off one afternoon to photograph the Chicago skyline. Some very cool architecture in that city. Some very cool pictures.

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After the Rochester, Buffalo, Toronto hiatus, Terri spent one “free” afternoon in Chicago trying to resume uploading footage from the videocam to her computer, so she could convert it and upload it to Youtube or Vimeo, her imovie function gone awry somewhere between pastrami and edamame in NYC.

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I am learning how to create run on sentences and unravel my dyslexic syntax. Terri still goes over my blog entries to make sure they are not all screwed up.

*

Does Terri ever get credit? Does she ever ask for it?

Sometimes…

*

The cab ride to The Hideout was interesting. The cab driver got lost. Terri and I agreed to go by taxi separately to buy her and David a little extra time in personal repair. So we paid twice for taxi drivers who insisted that the shack nestled in the cold shadows of industrial blight could not be The Hideout. But then what better place to hideout than in a shack in the shadows of industrial blight? The Hideout had no “Hideout” sign, just a beer sign?

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When I stepped out of the taxi a stranger walked up to me and said, “Are you Michael?” “This must be the right place”, the cab driver said. “Yes,” and “???” I never saw this guy in my life. It turned out to be Patricia Donnelly’s brother and his wife.

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Patricia is friend of David’s and ROCKPILE who lives back in Berkeley. She won David in a raffle. I will let David explain that if he wants.

Inside The Hideout.

A funky place. Warm and friendly home to some of the best music in Chicago. I feel like I’m writing copy for the entertainment section of the Chicago Tribune.

First big personal news at The Hideout was that I got to see Joan DeLott, an old friend of mine from Miami Beach whom I haven’t seen in 40 years.

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She brought Ellen Miller, an awesome harmonica player, to join in on show.

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More news. I met a cousin I never met in my life. It turns out we have the same great-grandfather. I am not sure what kind of cousin that makes him but he was a really nice guy and thoughtful to come out to the show and say howdy. (Weirdly, he came with a friend who heard about the show from Danny Kerwick in New Orleans. )

*

ROCKPILE AT THE HIDEOUT (we started an hour late so everyone had a chance to arrive and get settled.)

Art Lange began the show with w/ Calligraphy, Dan Godston’s band with Dan Godston (trumpet, percussion), Renee Baker (violins), Satya Gummuluri (voice), and Jimmy Bennington (drums)

FANTASY IN BLACK AND TAN

Confused, and missing
Mars’ rumored red
in a black sky, eyes un-
reliable, unbelievable

cold, hopes blunted
by false assumptions no
new moon renews, the need
to reinvent the wheel, feel

the fist of April fall
causing compromise, convulsions,
ominous echoes of an early
Ellington orchestra, rude

tunes, tumult, rare air,
a trumpeter named Bubber.

–Art Lange

*

Calligraphy is a band brought together for the first time by Dan Godston. A great group of musicians and a vocalist. They tore things up and so redefined space and time.

*

Then the great Bob Malone and Band took the show to another place. His performance was dedicated to the singer/songwriter, another way of looking at poetry and music. Bob sang “Chicks” by Dave Cantor from Dave’s True Story, and the title track from his new CD, “Ain’t What You Know” (you can buy it from Bob at www.bobmalone.com/store.html). He also sang three songs we wrote together, “Caught Up In Christmas”, “Morning Desires” and “Raydaddy’s Blues”.

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RAYDADDY’S BLUES

It’s the same twelve notes
No matter how you use them
It’s not what you play but how
These notes are only noise if you abuse them

But you can’t get to the mountain top
Just riding on technical perfection
You can only get there if you’re
Traveling in a soulful direction

CHORUS:
It don’t matter if it’s soft or loud
If it’s new or if it’s old
‘Cause it ain’t worth nothin’
If it ain’t got no soul

Like making love
But music is your lover
You got to do to the muse
Just like what you do under the covers
Play it like it’s for life
Not like it’s just for the night
‘Cause you won’t last long
If you don’t do it right

CHORUS:

Get out of your own way
Let the music take control
‘Cause it ain’t worth nothing
If it ain’t got no soul

BRIDGE:

The first time I ever put my hands on these keys
That rhythm took possession
That’s when I learned that music
Is more than just making sounds
It’s more like making a confession

—Bob Malone and Michael Rothenberg

*

Francesco Levato, accompanied by Bob Malone, read from “INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT”.
francesco-levato-poem-as-image1

Joe Wetteroth took us back to earth with “Soul Eyes”, “Two Drunks and Me Waiting For the Bus”, “On Grand Lounge”, “Save Me Somebody Save Me”, and “Gita Revisited”.

Joe Wetteroth

SOUL EYES

Listen to Coltrane
Like how some people read the bible
And speak in tongues.
Feet laid flat.
Skin shed like garments.
I am a being dweller.
Attempting to understand
Oneness.

Music burns from this tortured soul.
Deep, Dirty stomp melody
That will cry at inappropriate times.
Lost to crowds
In subway corridors
Alone
Where workers’ whistles
Echo and multiply.

–Joe Wetteroth

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*

Larry Sawyer, with Bob Malone, read “Bohemian” and “Moon Act”

MOON ACT

The moon as regime:
Matterless arms hold that distance
Where within you ventures
Slim shadowy sails

(Closure withheld, the notes of
This kept in the lagoon of a blue
Table.)

And the script is stoned
And never coming out of its trailer
No matter how many autographs, or
Well-respected directors
Promise to blockbuster it.

By writing of these hours, their
Golden Floridas, we pirate these
Moments, plunder

Chiaroscuro pouring its life out
Through telephone eyes.

Of payphones: the endangered species.
Sing to me of those last few calls

Because my heart is a dime
And the moon wails.

– Larry Sawyer

*

Terri Carrion, accompanied by The Bob Malone Band read “When I Was In Love” and “What’s Happening Now”.

WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW

A Saturday night much like any other
Patty, Johnny and I gather under a streetlight,
a dark and tragic version of the Three Stooges.
I squeeze into Patty’s Pontiac Fiero,
squeeze in between Johnny’s hip
and the stick shift, and shove myself
down far enough, so it looks like I belong there.
Then Patty says, “Let’s take off!”
We’re going to Baja.
We take the long way,
east through the desert,
past churning windmills,
life-size, illuminated plaster dinosaurs

In Palm Springs we see Dwayne and Dee
from the sitcom What’s Happening
cross the street. Patty and I hang out
of the windows scream “What’s Happening”
They’re not amused, but wave and smile
like good little Hollywood stars.
“That show went to shit when Dee grew up
and lost her sense of humor.”
We make it to Ensenada by morning,
have Tecate con sal y limon
and steamed clams the size of soup bowls
for breakfast.

Ensenada, where the desert meets the sea.
Where fish fly over cacti.
Where mountains lean to the west
Where the air is sucked dry by noon,
like our gas tank and our skin.
By one o’clock we have lost our sense of humor
Our buzz. We scream at each other
on a dusty road, throw clamshells
into a sky the color of internal organs.
We decide what we need is to camp out, get out
of the city, sleep under the stars.
Everything’s gonna be all right.

And it is, for a while, stealing hotdogs
and firewood from the supermarket
in town. On the beach, sharing a joint,
a tattered plaid blanket, talking about
the universe, death, and the moon.
Sparks on the water lull us to sleep,
curled up together in our blue dome tent,

But soon, the soothing moon is gone.
Children play in the sand,
ATV’s rumble, speedboats rush by,
mothers and fathers and uncles lounge
in striped canvas chairs and it’s all just too bright
The whole world well on its way without us.

– Terri Carrion

*

Then Bob Malone, The Spider Trio and Ellen Miller, joined me. I read a few poems including “The Jet” and “Angels Sleep in Peace”.

ANGELS SLEEP IN PEACE!

Angels sleep in peace!
Devils stay past midnight

listen to Paganini
Pretenders, King Of America, Heartless Liars

Have you heard them playing 8-ball while reading Ziggy’s Dream?

Did it matter when the Army closed
imagination’s terrifying halls to Strategists of Art?

No, it doesn’t make sense to matter
No explanation needed for transfer of funds

from one pocket to another

For those Charlie Chaplins entering data,
boiling nouvelle shoe leather soup

Supping on Valentine’s Desires and Therapeutic seasonings
It makes sense

Angels sleep in peace!
Devils stay past insomnia

Possum scud across the roof

Listening to accusations of the trite and trivial
from Fashion Fascists

Reveling in accusations of the ideal & naïve

soaked in gross dependencies & mother

Have you heard them in their drunken dance
on granite floors,

In the rhythm of Sisyphus?

Would it matter if Superman
disappeared in his glacial fortress and forgot about Lois Lane?

No, it doesn’t make sense to matter
No explanation is needed for the transfer of sperm

from one pocket to another

For Cryogenic Automatons taking surveys & grants,
boiling eclectic dialectics

Gorging on Cornish hens & Sweet & Low

It makes sense

Angels sleep in peace!
Devils stay past gunshot

& sweat soaked orgies
& tender whisperings

Have you made up your mind,

in those white silk gowns,
hair loose on freckled shoulder,

licking your own nipples,
raising your naked ass to four impossible walls?

That I should be persuaded by repressed exhibitions of genitalia
Does it matter when crisis rings

the death of a poet & saw-grass fires kiss his naked guilt?

No, it didn’t add up to verse, or wake the angels to salve
the clawing innocent

No, it doesn’t make sense to matter longer

No explanation needed for the transfer
of one fish from one

Amazon to one aquarium
on a bookshelf on one hill above Pacific shoreline

For Game Hunters tracking down genuine
tears & renderings, boiling conceptual logic

Mounting vanquished language of invisible
jaguars & hornless rhinos

On walls…

It makes sense

For those lazy drifters beneath the stars

– Michael Rothenberg

*

” The Breaks (Variations inadvertently on a theme by the Ohio Players with a nod to the Brothers Johnson).” by DAN MCNAUGHTON and The Spider Trio

Dan McNaughton had a composition idea which he tried out for the show. He describes as follows:

”The piece we did with you and David was originally to be called “The Breaks”–a break is when everyone in the band stops (this could be a blues or jazz tune) except for the soloist (which could be a singer), who continues on unaccompanied for a short time. The alternate title I came up with is “Variations inadvertently on a theme by the Ohio Players with a nod to the Brothers Johnson.” So the full title would be: “The Breaks (Variations inadvertently on a theme by the Ohio Players with a nod to the Brothers Johnson).”

This is how it goes:

“Spider Trio plays—poet reads—poet reads/Spider Trio plays—poet reads—poet reads/etc. My sense is that the basic unit (ST–poet–poet) could be repeated 4-8 times. Within the unit, each segment would last 15-30 seconds. Trading fours is meant to be a back-and-forth with each participant making a relatively brief statement. It’s up to you guys if you want to read previously written poems or improvise. We will be doing a theme and variations kind of thing. My sense is that this would not run too long, 7 to 15 minutes.”

We did like Dan suggested until it kind of broke down and spread out and then Dan gave us the go to continue improvising. David and I went back and forth with the Spider Trio in the mix, exchanging random lines, kisses, grunts, sighs, songs,
stardust, weather reports, blues, jingles, jangles, shoe sizes, orchids, a dance in the street, a generic merlot, sometimes just one word at the right time, whatever seemed to belong in the moment, and the audience had a good time which only encouraged us to indulge ourselves further.
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Thanks to Dan McNaughton for creating an environment that enabled David and me to do what we had all along promised to do, according to our grant, perform work composed on the road. This was it, kinda.

Terri said, “The David and Michael show, great!”

*

David took over to read with The Spider Trio, Bob Malone and Ellen Miller. He read/sang some blues, “Brother”, “When I Was A Poet”, and read excerpts from “No Eyes, Lester Young”,

Dan McNaughton says, “I think we did play rhythm changes behind David’s poem about Lester Young. “Rhythm changes” means playing the chord changes and form of “I Got Rhythm” (by the Gershwins).”

from NO EYES, a sequence on Lester Young

if exhaustion were an ocean
I’d dive in head first
& forget how to swim

down to the deepest deep
creep along bottom’s bottom
& sleep w/out dreaming

turn blue in salt cold
shrink old prune grey
water filled folds pop open
on sunny days

no more sweet or sour
just hour after hour of no time
is nobody’s time w/nobody around
to keep time

if misery were the sea
& blues were sky
I’d still sink & fly
& cry w/out anyone
being around to spy
on Pres & say shit

the suit fits
the wood fits
the earth fits
dark fits
worms fit right in
& out & who’s to know
who’s blowing what elsewhere
who cares
in the rare fit
of return

if blues were shoes
I’d walk a million miles
& still not be through
my map of trap
run changes not my game
chords afford hills I climb
in time to sing a song
lambs lap up & love sap
fills the meter w/sweetness
hearts hold no glass fills

paradiddle tap delicacy
clicketyclacks on glass bridge
over skin abyss drum
of slaves stretched
beyond break &
beyond your kiss

if lips were song
I’d never go wrong
& stay stuck on your breath
mouth to mine in a circle of fifths

if blues were shoes
I’d be barefoot before I start
walking in or out of
your life

if blues were news
the dailies would take eternity
to get through

when I go I go there without you
solo in transit
through back door
blue light blink exit
out of frame tilted

just a gigolo a photograph
an 8 x 10 print a postage stamp
passport ID
get me gone
out the door & into night

what I saw & you saw
never the same
not even close
where I looked in
you looked out
saw only skin

was light for a colored man
was colored for a light man
nobody wins the skin game

bells bells bells
smoke a carillon
thanks a million

eyes high beam
can’t see nothing but
atoms & ladies
movie through
cloud shadow snacks
spines of light on shades
slides of reverie
in clubs Speed Graphic
shots of booths filled
with suits & skirts
ashtrays & shot glasses
washed in flash
look through time into
shutter’s petals

(if snaps were real
nothing’d get anywhere
if past was future’s fingerprint
love’d go nowhere
& if each note froze before it went out
there’d be nowhere to go
if you is or you ain’t my baby
I’d still blow words you couldn’t hear)

Lester led the band with his eyes
he hardly said anything except
hey baby or you know

Ding-dong
hello goodbye
bells ring
when eyes see

in ’42
in L.A.
Nat Cole
Red Callander
& Pres do
Tea for Two
breathless Lester
deathless

not brushes but
acetate fluster
sizzles through digital

Bean & Byas did wood
Pres does air
Bean & Byas push it
Pres lets it

what’s delicate
inviolate
rejects bruise
accepts blues

Bird learned from me
from Trumbauer’s C-melody
Dorsey’s alto

skin’s secondary
pilfer from source
to become source

asked me who I was
who they were
why we were
how I did it
who I got it from
what’s the secret
I told them everything
& they heard nothing

28 viii 97

1909 died in 59
now it’s 97
you’d be 79
on jazz cruise ship
hunger artist
bypass dip
go for distilled curl
a Pilipino pours into
extra deep shot glass
knees push into leatherette
bar puff facade
elders scarf up dinner
at captain’s table
drafted Berklee school kids set up gear
hey where’s the chick singer

Then David read “When I Was A Poet”, a solo piece to conclude the evening.

*

After The Hideout show, after settling high finances with the Hideout management, after many sweet goodbyes to old and new friends, after squeezing into Dan Godston’s very compact car, Terri, David, crutches (he likes to call sticks), violinist and violin, trumpet, books for sale, camera equipment including tripods, briefcases, back packs, winter coats and wool caps and slightly claustrophobic me, THE ROCKPILE TRIO was birthed outside of an all night greasy spoon diner, soaked in the afterbirth of poetry and music. I don’t remember the name of the place, and after too much bad wine, soggy French toast, biscuits and gravy, fried eggs, French fries, “remember American fries?” with Joe Wetteroth and Sarah Hogan, we said some more goodbyes, climbed into a taxi to the Allegro Hotel, with books, bags, and camera equipment, grateful to know the next day was a rest day, a sleep late day, another day in Chicago to sort things out before we headed south to St. Louis.

-MR

ROCKPILE at The Hideout- Chicago Part 1 from ROCKPILE on Vimeo.

ROCKPILE at The Hideout – Chicago Part 2 from ROCKPILE on Vimeo.nbs

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