A new idea finds the mind
and digs itself a home behind
what it finds still living there,
rewiring lights and such to suit,
requiring sometimes a reboot.
Then it takes root, without care
for walls and beams it wrests aside,
for contents lost when seams collide.
It takes great pride in breaking
the models of forgotten thought,
old lesson plans no longer taught,
like recipes not worth making.
And in that space it will expand,
imagining the world it plans
not build on sand, but on stone;
its buttresses unshakeable,
its hold on us, unbreakable,
its taproot makes a great throne.
But that illusion cannot last;
in birth, idea’s death is cast.
How fast new seeds demand light
and will destroy without regret
the noble root, and will upset
tradition’s sense of what is right.
And so the tragic, fragile mind
consists of what is left behind
and what is blind and just made.
There, in that pause between the sigh
of death and birth’s great squall and cry,
none deny they are afraid.
22 FEB 2017
Everyone that I know was at one point born – so far as I know, all joking about hatching in the desert sun under the watchful eyes of vultures aside. I am no exception. The facts are readily verifiable: at 2:55 am Eastern Standard Time, at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan in the United States of America, Robert Leroy and Nancy Ann Litzenberg found themselves in possession of a male child. Interesting to note that I recently saw a film about Jack Kevorkian that included scenes from William Beaumont, where he practiced his euthanasia for a period of time, and although I have only two experiences in that facility (my birth, and a subsequent hospitalization for tonsillectomy at age 5, neither of which I remember very much if at all, although I do remember receiving ice cream and the board game Candy Land in a hospital bed) seeing the camera sweep through the halls gave my spine a shiver in recognition of a place for which I had physical, if not psychological, memory. In reference to the circumstances of my birth, I can only offer anecdotal evidence: first, that I was born in the midst of a quiet unusually violent blizzard. Second, that the timing of my birth resulted in two things that I think may have permanently affected my relationship with my father: he was forced to miss the broadcast of the Rose Bowl featuring his beloved Ohio State – and, due to an almost three-hour delay in my arrival, he was forced to forgo deducting my expense on his taxes for a full year.
Many of those who surround my life considered themselves “born again”. To borrow a bit more from Montaigne, I think this rebirth happens once or twice throughout your lifetime, if you are fortunate. The trick with any rebirth of course is that you must at some point grow up into life. You can’t remain a child of God, creativity, nature or anything else forever, any more than having experienced a first physical birth you can remain an infant interminably. Again, like Montaigne, I think I was born again the first time when I began to appreciate what music as an inseparable force felt like. I think I may have been 10 or 11 the first time performing music transcended being a purely physical act, an application of technique to muscle memory, and became an act of conscious yoga, or union, with the universe. The first time you “lose yourself” in any activity is a sign that you are susceptible, and in some way acceptable, to magic. While I had once or twice before 7 actually felt my bicycle was leaving the ground and I was flying across the yard, the experience of playing music amidst a group of other musicians was the first time I really began to understand the possibilities.
I think I was likely born again when I began writing songs. It seems so long ago: my first efforts coincided with the deaths of both my paternal and maternal grandfathers in 1974 – incidentally, the year I received my first record albums: Elvis Presley’s Gold Records Vol. 4 and Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. A year or so later, when my cousin Jim gifted me a two-volume 8-track tape collection that he had recorded himself, including the Beatles’ collections Love Songs and Rock and Roll Music, supplemented by various singles and Live at the Hollywood Bowl, my initial introduction to popular music was complete. The rest, as they say, is history.
When you start
things seem a lot easier
than they are:
you wake up
each morning with a smile
and positive attitude,
a clear goal
to accomplish on that day,
with known outcomes.
In the middle,
things get a bit cloudy
and less obvious:
each day comes
and then it simply goes,
with much undone;
you grow tired
of just making it through
to start again.
At the end,
a kind of clarity returns,
some tell you:
the little dreams
become a lot more important
at day’s end.
The hours fly,
the years just simply disappear;
then they’re gone.
4 APR 2014