Sunday, March 8, 2015

Being Full Ready

Being full ready to wonder
Full willing to brave understanding
Yet never demanding a breath or an hour
Rejecting the power to drive senses under
I stand, though my urge is to cower.

The misted horizon is hidden
Wanderers like me bidden beyond it
Since day dawned it has whispered its chide
Pragmatics aside, no path is forbidden
Free in heart, no thought is denied.

I’ll press to the wind for blessings
And gratefully guard restless spirit
Without fear, it means nothing to finally find courage
Embracing the tears and the scars and their lessons
I’ll walk with unfaltering carriage.

A presence recalls a conception
A full resurrection of meaning
A single soul gleaning a kernel of will
From the chaff that ‘til now slowed perception
My awakening senses thrill.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Guy In San Blando Chapter Six

This week’s rehearsal “studio” for the Flamefarts was a basement room in an old elementary school which had been converted into a small community center, where they held tai chi classes and square dances and fund raising spaghetti dinner events for local organizations.  The band was practicing in a janitor’s storage room.   In school days, this room had been the teacher’s lounge, and the walls and ceiling were stained yellow with nicotine.  Now there was cleaning paraphernalia and many folding chairs and tables everywhere, as well as a few broken down vending machines.  The room smelled of high-powered cleaning chemicals. 

After the second verse of the new song, “Barb-wire Streisand” things had fallen apart. 

“That’s where we go to F sharp, Lump,” Guy said for the sixth time that night. 
“You sure?” Lump Bumpus, the bass player, said for the fifth time.
“Yeh, it’s badda-daaa, ba-da, ba-da, ba-ba, bamp, bamp, bob, F SHARP!...” barked Herm Rottweiler, playing it lightly on his guitar as he barked.
“…Oh yeah,”  mumbled Lump.
“Ya know, I’m not sure that change is working for me,” Dude Igneous said, adjusting his hi-hat clutch.  “The chords are fine, but it feels like it should have a new feel.  Something like-” Dude played a driving beat on his drums; a lot of ride cymbal, syncopated snare.
Rott shook his head.  “Sounds like John Bonham trying to play jazz.  What if we do the chords a little differently, like-” Rott set the chords high on the neck of his strat, playing off-beats.
Guy shook his head.  “Sounds like Dick Dale trying to play reggae.”
Lump waved a hand.  “So the F sharp part goes…?” Lump played a lick that no one recognized. 
“I think that’s from ‘Lord of the Flies’ by Iron Maiden,” Guy said eventually.
“…Oh yeah,”  mumbled Lump.
“I’ve always thought it just needs more drive there, like-” Guy drove the rhythm hard on the fat strings.  He spat the rhythm through his teeth as he played. The others in the room watched, motionless.  Lump’s jaw gaped.  Rott had that sneer (it was hard to tell if this was good or bad; Rott sneered at everything).  No one said a word for a few seconds after Guy had stopped.  There was only the faint hum of the amps.

“Nah.” Said Mary and Rott in unison.

“Let’s just try it once more like we had it.”  Dude was getting impatient.
“So the F sharp part goes…?” Lump played another unknown lick.
After a pause of indredulity, Rott chimed, “I think that one’s from ‘No More Lies’.  Hey, it’s ‘Guess the Iron Maiden Tune’ night.  For now, just peg on F sharp.”
“Let’s just try it again.”  Guy said.

Dude counted off.  The band was solid on the first verse and chorus.  After the second verse, things fell apart.

“It’s getting late.  The janitor’s gonna want to lock up pretty soon.”  Guy said.  “Maybe we should call it. We’ll sort this tune out next time.”

Most of the band started breaking down and packing up.  Lump was still trying to remember what they’d shown him for the F sharp section after the second verse.  After a few minutes, he was back to playing Iron Maiden licks.

“Come on, Lump.”  Guy said.  “Time.”

As Guy was angling his amp into his trunk, Mary Dynasty crossed the parking lot from her vehicle to him.

“Hey, didn’t you meet with Roger Pretentious the other day?  How’d that go?  What’d he say?” Mary asked.
“It was kind of confusing.”  Guy began, “No.  It was VERY confusing.  He wouldn’t tell me anything directly.  He asked a lot of questions, and when I answered, he would either giggle, or just say, ‘Mm hm’.  He asked a lot about you, as a matter of fact.”
“What kinds of questions?” Mary asked, not sure if she was flattered.
“He knows about my job, and the Marauders, and how tight my schedule is right now.  But that didn’t seem to matter to him much.  The kinds of things he asked about seemed to indicate travel.  I’m wondering if he has some kind of tour in mind for us.  But the questions were weird.  He asked stuff like, do I get homesick; do I have problems with altitude; do I like foreign food.  The kicker was he wanted to know about my bladder.  It seemed important to know how much I pee.  I mean how often.”
“How often you pee?” Mary asked.
“Yeah.  I told him about the time I drove from here to Lake Bink two states away, and only stopped once.  That seemed to impress him,” Guy laughed, and was disturbed by how much his laugh reminded him of Pretentious’ giggle. “He said he hoped the others in the band have similar self-control.”

Mary was confused, but noticeably excited. “What was he asking about me?”
Guy shook his head.  “That was one of the most confusing parts.  He wanted to know how familiar you are with Russian classical music.  It seemed very important to him.  Do you know anything about that stuff?”
Mary’s eyes widened.  “I did my final research project on Prokofiev,” she whispered, awed by the coincidence.
Guy shrugged.  “Pretentious will probably love that.  He might want us to throw a few samples of Russian music into our songs.”
Mary explored the possibilities in her mind.  “There is the one part where we use Glenn Miller in ‘Fur-Lined Garbage Can’.  I could change it to Mussorgsky or something.”
“That would heighten the drama, I guess.”  Guy said.  “But let’s not change anything just yet.  I don’t even know what he’s getting at.  He said he needs to check a few things, and he’ll call next week sometime with more details.  That’s why I didn’t say anything at practice; I don’t know anything yet.  Maybe we’re going on a Russian tour.  And maybe there’s no porta-potties in Russia.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Where To

Opportunity has sung a song into your crystal ear;
Through your quiet madness you have found it hard to hear.
A voice you’ve long awaited you can hardly recognize;
The truth well-known within your heart your reasoning denies.

Your effigy hangs solemnly from indecision’s tree;
Your sleep is undisturbed amidst morality’s debris.
A bird with gilded feathers sings sweet morning songs to you,
The day you wake up to her song is sadly overdue.

A remnant of your heart before its ultimate demise
Can still be seen like ghosts of summer in your winter eyes.
The spirit of the laughter which your face has sorely missed
Is teasing at the corners of your mouth, but you resist.

You walk in sunlit meadows, feeling concrete underfoot;
The tree of hesitation has your name carved at its root.
The circle you’ve been treading a round chasm has become,
And there you vanish, never knowing “where to” from “where from”.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Guy in San Blando chapter 5

Guy maneuvered his Dodge Charger through the traffic of I-21 toward Bigburg.  I-21 was often congested, and there never seemed to be any pattern or reason for the heavy traffic.  Guy remembered leaving for a snowboard trip at 5 AM, confident he’d have smooth sailing.  He had been delayed an hour and a quarter in crawling traffic for no reason he was ever able to determine.  He quickly checked his look in the mirror; he had skipped his shower and headed straight to the TV station where he worked.  He saw red eyes blinking back at him; bloodshot partly because of lack of sleep, partly because of the Taco Hole special salsa he had rubbed into them when he got the call from Jameson about half an hour before.

Guy’s mind was turning over and over.  There were great things happening for his band, there were exciting possibilities for his team, and one good fortune threatened to nullify the other.  The Flamefarts might soon play at some of the most prestigious spots around, and the Marauders had lucked into the playoffs.  Guy was a planner, a strategizer, but every time he went over the situation in his head, he could only come up with one course of action: wait and see.  Guy hated waiting to see.  He preferred to act.

He had about a quarter mile to go before he reached his exit.  His mind had been wandering, and he realized he had little time to cross three lanes of traffic to make his exit.  In the lane to his right was an 18 wheeler that had been tentatively slowing and speeding up, as if the driver was not sure where he was headed.  It seemed like every time Guy tried to slow down to get behind, the truck would slow down, and when Guy tried to speed up to pass, the truck would accelerate.  Finally Guy saw a gap in front that he could just make it into.  He stepped on the gas and deftly slipped into the next lane.  The truck driver was evidently unhappy with Guy’s move; his horn blared. 

Just as the truck driver’s horn blasted, Guy’s phone rang.  This was a different ring tone.  The phone was playing “Take My Butt to the Stars” by Randy Rank.  “Holy crap!” Guy whispered hoarsely.  He had set up that ring tone on his phone so he would know when Roger Pretentious was calling.  He fumbled briefly through his jacket pocket, looking for his ear piece, and realized he had left it at home.  He had to try to exit and pull over so he could take the call.  This could be the call; the Flamefarts might be getting their chance to play The Spot.  Guy clicked on his turn indicator, and glanced over his shoulder.  He was glad he did, because a motorcyclist he hadn’t noticed was coming up very fast on his right.  He waited for the bike to pass, and sailed across two lanes and made the exit ramp just in time.  Once he was off the freeway, he pulled onto the shoulder and stopped, kicking up a cloud of dust.  He jerked the phone to his ear.  “Hello?” he said.  Worried he sounded a little scared, he added, “Guy here.”

“Good morning to you, my lad!”  Roger Pretentious sang on the other end.  Pretentious liked to use British-sounding expressions.  Guy figured it might be because Pretentious had spent a lot of time in England and Europe, but more likely it was because he was a poser trying to sound important.  Either way, Roger Pretentious was a man with connections so Guy was obliged to play along.
“Are we rising early to catch the proverbial worm?” Pretentious crooned.
“On my way to work, so, I guess.  Yeah.”  Guy was never quite sure how to respond to Pretentious.
“Well I’ll just keep you for a wee moment, if you’re game.  Have you a moment to chat?”  Pretentious said.
“Sure, sure,” Guy said, allowing his hopefulness to register in his voice.  “What’s up?”
“Well, I should say, my lad, you are up.  You and your group.  I’ve an opportunity I think you’ll find quite exciting.”
“That’s great news!  Are we playing The Spot?”  As Guy heard himself say this, he wondered if he should make more effort to conceal his enthusiasm.
“I say!  You are quite keen on The Spot, now, aren’t you?  No, I’m sorry to say, that is not what I’m calling about, although that is still an imminent possibility.”

Guy was confused and worried that this might be the beginning of a runaround.  He had been given the runaround enough times to recognize it almost immediately.  He had learned to spot the ones he shouldn’t waste any time with.

“Another club?  You book bands in Pleebston too, right?” Guy pressed.
Pretentious laughed pretentiously.  “Pleebston!  No.  But indeed, my proposition might involve travel for you and the Farts, if you’re interested.”
“Uh, we really like people to use the full name, Flamefarts.” Guy said quietly.
“One of the things I’ve admired about your little group is your versatility.  You all are such multi-talented chaps.  The guitarist with his fiery thing he does.  And your stunning keyboardist.  She is a wizard with audio, eh what?”
“Thanks, yeah.  I’m lucky to work with great talents.  But, uh…I am on my way to work…”
“Yes, yes!” Pretentious sang again. “I’d like to meet with you and discuss a different kind of a gig for you and the Flames…”
“Flamefarts,” Guy said.
“But it is going to be a bit difficult to enumerate the details.  Can we meet at The Spot this evening?  Say 7 PM?  Oh, do say you’ll come.”

Guy was confused, hopeful, excited, and pressed for time.  He hated that he had to play along with this Pretentious fellow, without knowing what the man was really about.  But he was not going to miss opportunities, or burn any bridges.

“Ok, I’ll be there.  It might be a little tight for me to get there by 7, so I’ll call if I’m running behind, ok?” Guy said, trying to assume a little control.
“Splendid!  Jolly good.”  Pretentious chortled.
“Ok.  I’ll see you then, Roger,” Guy said.  I’ll call the band and see if anyone else can come.”
“No, no,” said Pretentious, his voice sounding like he was trying weakly to be reassuring. “Just your lovely self will do.”

Guy wasn’t sure that he cared for the sound of that.  But he resolved to play along, at least until he found out what all this was about.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guy In San Blando Chapter 4

In the back parking lot of the Fishwife, as Dude Igneous was just finishing getting his drums packed into the back of his truck, Lump Bumpus, the Flamefarts bass player approached.  Lump had a kind of Ben Franklin look about him, only not so intelligent or stately.  Poor Lump was almost completely bald on top, but only 31.  He still wore his hair long, and he had a good pot belly on him too.  But he could play every Iron Maiden song ever, note for note, from memory.  In fact, it was a flaw.  Lump didn’t know anything but Iron Maiden songs, and it took him a while to learn new material.  To a large extent, lump was the one Guy was referring to when he expressed fears about “losing momentum” should his job as a sports statistician take him away to the playoffs.  He knew Lump would forget the songs.
“Dude!” Lump looked like he’d suddenly remembered something. “Hey, I thought you had an awesome beat kickin’ in that one tune..uh…”
“Dynamite in the Jello?” Dude suggested.
“Nah.  That was kickin’ though…” Lump laughed.
“Planet of Plastic Pain?” Dude said.
“What’s the one that starts ‘Dun, dun…dat, dat, da daaah, dun.  Da, da, da, dunt dun…’”
Dude frowned.  “Not sure.  You mean ‘Da, da, da, dunt da, dun…’”
“Nah, nah.”, Lump interrupted. “‘Da, da, da, dunt dun…’” He growled the last ‘dun’ for emphasis.
“The one about penguins in the sewers?” Dude asked.
“Maybe.  It’s the one where Rott makes it sound like his guitar’s puking.” Lump said.
“No, that’s HazMat  Blues.  It’s just a slow shuffle, nothin’ special about that beat.”
For a moment the two of them looked at each other.  Both of their heads moved, as if they were hearing music, but it was plain they were hearing different songs.
“Anyway, kickin’ beats, Dude.” Lump said.  He picked up his bass cases and walked toward his Buick Riviera.

A few minutes later, Dude saw a couple of guys dressed in various colors of leather attire.  They walked hesitantly towards Dude, talking quietly as if they were planning something.  When they reached him, they just stood for a moment, as if waiting for Dude to recognize them.  Their outfits were completely leather, but not in a conventional Judas Priest way.  One of them wore what seemed to be a leather 3-piece business suit.  It was burgundy, and had gold pinstripes stitched into it.  The other wore a carpenter’s overalls made of lime green leather, and no shirt. 

“Great drumming, man,” 3-piece said.  His tone sounded like a high school teacher encouraging a new student .
“Thanks.”  Dude mumbled.  He continued loading his truck.
“You know who we are?” Overalls sneered.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” Dude sincerely apologized, “I got a terrible memory for clothes.  Tell me your names again?”
“We’re Absentia.  Now you remember right?” Overalls looked annoyingly confident.
“’Hittin’ the street, cit-tee cit-tee beeeeeeeeat…’” 3-piece sang in falsetto.
“Oh, yeh.” Dude waved his hand limply.
“Well, we came out here to the sticks from our stop in Bigburg on the recommendation of a mutual friend of ours,” 3-piece still had that tone.
“We need a good drummer.”  Overalls laughed.
“More like we’re auditioning drummers.” 3- piece looked at Overalls.
“You probably have heard that Plague Harris, our drummer, is starring in the next Techno Gun movie.” Overalls bragged.
“More like he’s appearing in the new Techno Gun movie.” 3-piece said.
Overalls’ voice got a little squeaky, like a kid talking about his favorite toy.  “You remember at the end of the last Techno Gun movie, how Major Steele saved his son by giving his wife a c-section while parachuting from the Space Shuttle?  Well, our drummer, Plague, plays a crime lord who’s got the son mixed up in crime sixteen years later.  Major Steele is a cop now, a detective, instead of a special ops officer and is on a raid, but he doesn’t know it’s his son’s girlfriend’s house, where there’s a big party, and…”
“Plague is the first one killed by the Techno Gun.” 3-piece said with noticeable satisfaction.
“Sorry, I don’t really follow movies and stuff.”  Dude was trying to appear interested.  “I remember your songs though, I used to like you guys.  I saw you open up for Lou Reed once.”  He actually did remember Absentia and the Lou Reed show pretty well.  Absentia had tried to blend metal and disco, and it bothered Dude Igneous a lot that they had gained a following.  Dude had led the “booing” when they opened up for Lou Reed.
Overalls continued. “So now our drummer wants to be an actor.”
“More like he wants to be a movie star,” 3-piece corrected. “He may make a dozen movies, but no one could ever teach that schmuck how to act.”
Overalls was getting annoyed with his partner.  “Anyway, this may be your big opportunity.  We’d like you to audition for us!  Think about it.  You can tour with us for a couple of months.  You can be in Absentia!”
“Can you be at The Spot tomorrow about 4:30?” 3-piece said.
“Uh…” Dude stammered.  “Can I call you tomorrow and let you know?  It sounds good but I gotta check some things.”
Both members of Absentia seemed quite surprised that Dude hesitated.  3-piece pulled a business card out of his vest pocket, and handed it to Dude.  The card was made of purple paper that had a leather-like finish to it, and the lettering was fuzzy white, like fake velvet.  He held out the card to Dude, but when Dude was about to take it, 3-piece pulled the card back.
“You know,” 3-piece now had a tone like a king about to make a royal decree, “We are probably gonna be on Jay Laterman in a couple of weeks.  Ever been on Laterman?”
“Yeh.  I was on the Questionable Talent segment.  I played my drums and ate a triple cheeseburger, hanging upside-down.  They re-play it all the time.”  Dude said, nonchalantly, taking the card.
“Oh, that was you?”  Overalls said, obviously impressed.
“I’ll call you tomorrow.  Good to meet you guys.  I’ll think about it.”  Dude closed the gate on his truck.  He was suddenly in the mood for a triple cheeseburger.
“All right then.”  3-piece said.  “Good show tonight.” He still seemed mystified that Dude was not impressed with them.
As the two walked away, it sounded to Dude Igneous like they were arguing over clothing choices.

Open, O pun

Who melts?
Whom else?
Who swings
Whose wings?
Who stays?
Whose days?
Who slams
Whose lambs?
Lie, trust,
Light rust.
So learn,
Soul urn.
You’re in



All but a surprise
To wander into nothing less
Than a pair of eyes
Which silently confess
The spirit cries

All too quick to weep
To see a bit of sunset hue
Demanding sleep
Now that innocence is through
Within the keep

Stunned by just the sight
Of visions never yet revealed
‘Til a star-lined night
In the astral field
Lit the light

Someone’s stranded heart
Though once it was so sweet and young
Slowly pulled apart
And casually hung
Like someone’s art