Tag Archives: personal history

At the bookstore

At the bookstore yesterday
two young punks with their parents
came in as I was going out;
they were festooned with spiky hair,
spiked bracelets and Doc Martens,
and t-shirts both bleached clean and pressed,
brand new, although the bold design
I’d seen — in fact, I’d worn myself
some twenty years before.
I didn’t have the heart to stop
and tell these kids something I’m sure
they would have heard with disbelief:
that I had heard of Minor Threat —
in fact, I’d hung out with Ian M;
a past member of Iron Cross
had been my roommate for a while;
the guys from All still had my Kustom amp;
and I’d lived, for a couple months,
on Henry Rollins’ furniture.
Hell, I’d even toyed with the notion
of playing in East Bay Ray’s new band,
after the Kennedys expired.

When I was a punk, Bauhaus
was still more than a t-shirt collection.

But these guys didn’t want to hear that,
I know.

Nobody wants to think their revolution
is recycled.

4 AUG 2005

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A Sense of Place

Six years, the longest I have ever been
in one spot without moving out and on,
and still this place does not possess my bones
the way it would if I had come of age,
or taken my first steps, read my first book,
lost my virginity or first paycheck,
under these spreading, great magnolia trees,
through hurricanes and floods and summer’s heat.
My ties are severed to those memories;
there is no real connection back to where
the formative in me began to set,
to where grandparent’s porch-swings gently rocked,
or drifted snow blew up against the house
so high it blocked the window of my second story room.
There is no chain between me and the land;
what sacred space I ever found is gone.
And even when I visit, after years and miles away,
only their ghosts, if that, remain as shadows.
As always, disconnected from my peers,
whose constant habitations in one sphere
I wished to share, but never had the chance,
the sense of place in me is hollowed out.
At home, but homeless, my spirit abides
in pieces cast among my former selves;
How long before I call this city “mine”,
and recognize its rhythm as my own?

2 AUG 2005

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Weak Blood

The blood that courses through my veins
has been diluted. I can sense
its former potency at times:
remembering my father’s strength,
my great-grand sire’s blind wandering
(which was itself a pale claret
compared to further back in time
when his ancestors sought freedom
in the New World, alone and broke),
the continents and oceans crossed
in times of war, in famine’s peace,
must have required more courage,
gumption, even, than I now possess.

Your plasma, too, is watered down:
in veins passed down from one who preached
the merits of peyote worship
to the Great White Father in the East,
and made the exodus, on foot,
from Canada’s Acadia
down to the Deep South’s draining heat.

How weak the strain our genes might mix:
like royal hemophiliacs,
or hypochondriac offspring
that dare not risk a paper cut,
or need a day of rest to cure
a sniffle, or a broken nail.

21 JUL 2005

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In seventeen and forty one

In seventeen and forty one,
my family reached these shores;
each generation since that time
has fought this country’s wars.

Against the French, and then the Britons,
then in Union blue;
the Spanish, Mexican and Natives,
when each call came through.

In Europe, twice, and then, Korea,
Laos, Vietnam;
and last, Kuwait, Iraq,
against the dread Saddam.

Can those brave leaders say the same
who now say we must fight,
not for a principle, but money?
It does not seem right.

How many simple farmers’ sons
must fight the rich men’s wars?
How many inner city youths
die while prep school kids keep score?

My family ranks with DAR,
and led Marines through Seoul;
with no excuse or privilege card,
we marched, and payed the toll.

With Washington and Jefferson;
with Lincoln, Grant, and Polk;
with Roosevelt and Eisenhower,
marched our simple folk.

With Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush,
our sons went off to war;
but now, I think the marching’s done
and we will fight no more.

For battle without honor,
in the name of greed and pride
turns soldiers into mere machines
with no heart left inside.

If you would wage such wars,
keep all your smart bombs and new guns;
and for your cannon fodder,
find some other family’s sons.

29 May 2005

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Eulogy on a Blank Canvas

I was born; that’s not quite news,
nor is the sequence of events
that followed closely there behind
of much import, or consequence:

like Isaac, most of my short life
falls into sets of seven years,
some uphill climbs, some downhill coasts,
some trouble shifting between gears.

The details need not be disclosed;
suffice to say, I learned
the difference between being hot
enough to cook, melt, fry or burn.

What grave errors in judgment!
What missteps, what great falls!
What joy in fleeting, desperate moments!
Well, to sum it all:

I’ve done what I’ve done, good or bad,
and often wasted time;
I’ve squandered talents given me
and stumbled, laughed and whined.

They say that it’s the squeaky gear
who gets the lion’s share of grease;
I’ve been both rusty and well-oiled,
and found in neither full release.

Accomplishments? Not much of note.
It seems like a great nothing
that seemed important at the time,
or might amount to something.

I write, and sing, and listen to
the universe as best I can;
where books and music lead me
often I don’t understand

but those who love me see the nothing
that I’ve been and done
as important; worth recalling
when my race is run.

11 May 2005

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The Starting Point

Like all Capricorns, I suppose, I am continually attempting to fashion some kind of theory of the universe. In conjunction with that astrological impetus, my real world experience in information systems technical support insists that this theory include a practical user’s guide written in language that can be easily understood (or at least understood if one possesses the proper prerequisite understanding). The musician that I am provides the cement that ties the ideas together, while the philosopher crafts the thoughts that the writer puts into words.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say my being “pagan” gives it any sort of spiritual veracity or inspiration. That’s because unlike all those other traits I identified above, it’s not an action. It is a state of being, not a religious inclination or activity. Besides, there are so many labels that could be, are, or have been applied to ideas that these labels make no more sense than an endless stream of acronyms paraded by a Silicon Valley wunderkind in front of a Neanderthal who just got his first wheel built. And I don’t consider this a “pagan” piece of thinking – or rather, I do, but I suppose not many other so-called “pagans” would agree. Maybe that’s because it’s not just the anti-pagans that have a far too limited interpretation of what that Latin derived word REALLY means. This work is not about that.

It is about expanding, not constricting.

It is a philosophy of energy.

This is an on-going work.

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On Adding New Friends

Sometimes I feel there’s not enough ink,
and spare electrons can’t be found
to pull out from the ether what I think,
so I pull in all the excess wood around
and burn away the wheatless chaff
in giant billowed clouds of smoke.

Sometimes I’m trying hard to laugh
so the whole world doesn’t seem a joke.

And other times I feel the need
to just devour the world outside;
so I look for endless things to read
that tease me, soothe me, or provide
a viewpoint quite unlike my own.

If I add you to my friends list,
which today has greatly grown,
it’s because I can’t resist
the urge to share part of your view,
without intruding, just because
I find pleasure in reading you
and knowing of your joys, the flaws
you find in worldly things,
the ups and downs that each day brings,
the songs you sing that I too know
(and strange new ones, that even though
are not my cup of tea (or gin)
may find me humming right along).

Each day’s new entries help begin
the chords that make up my own song.

And if you find what I may say
from time to time worth reading, too,
though where the path leads, none can say,
I’m glad to share a mile or two.

22 JAN 2005

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