Meet me down in the delta


Meet me down in the delta
where the hot summer swelter
will melt all our blues away

We’ll sit on the front porch swing
not doing a damn thing
but thinking up new games to play:

things that don’t require running,
’cause under the gun
in this heat you’ll likely as not expire

only a damn fool would venture
from where it’s cool
run the risk of setting themselves on fire

Don’t pay no mind to what the weatherman says
He’s a liar if he says he knows
Ain’t no point guessing, and use in stressing
it’ll only make you sweat through your clothes

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Lughnassad


Summer’s bent and turned to gray,
his heat begins to wend;
in these dog days of decline
his smolder finds its end.

Now the lad with darkened locks,
his heart born full of ice,
begins again to wax in strength
and plot the sacrifice

of the green and winsome king
whose fires consume and warm;
in the shadows, winter brews
its months of snow and storm.

From the fields, sun’s regent walks
among the first-born sheaves;
in their surrender lies his bounty.
Soon, the turning leaves

will announce his kingship ended,
and that fateful siege
when his lance will be unmended
and a new crowned liege

will ascend the season’s throne
to lull the world to sleep
through the gray and bitter months,
when the sun must creep

at a distance, as the world
lies fallow until spring,
and the Sun will claim once more
its green and leafy King.

Summer’s step is not so sure
past each year’s Lammas eve;
mere months mark the lifespan
of the king. But do not grieve:

in the womb of winter’s deep,
the cold new king will sow
the sunlight spark that will in time
defeat again the snow.

01 AUG 2005

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Season’s Crossroads


Wouldn’t know it from the weather,
but the summer’s almost gone.
Those lazy early days have faded,
though the swelter lingers on;
and the memory of the schoolyard
has begun to slip away
as if lessons barely ended
prove you know something today

Wouldn’t know it, ‘cept the calendar
is near another page.
Each checkmark by a number
signifies another stage,
and another blue sky faded
slowly into dappled gray.
All the colors run together;
only darkness will remain.

At the crossroads of the seasons
you can only stand so long
before something calls you onward:
something yearning, something strong;
there is nothing left a body here to do,
except believe in a miracle or two.

Wouldn’t know it from the weatherman,
but autumn’s closing in.
Though the dog days are still coming,
they will grow weary and thin;
and the sunny joys of summer
that you thought were here to stay
will be covered in the green leaves
that you sit under today.

At the crossroads of the seasons
you pick your point of return;
and pretend your new direction shows
you things you need to learn.
But there is nothing much to do beyond just ride,
and believe you’ll come out on the other side.

21 JUN 2005

for Pete Ham

If you’ve ever listened to much Badfinger, you know who Pete Ham was – lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter for the group who wrote, among other things, Without You, which was much more successfully recorded by Harry Nilsson and recently again by Mariah Carey. He committed suicide in 1975.

My favorite song of his is called “Perfection”:

There is no real perfection
There’ll be no perfect day
Just love is our connection
The truth in what we say

There’s no good revolution
Just power changing hands
There is no straight solution
Except to understand

So listen to my song, of life
You don’t need a gun, or a knife
Successful conversation,
will take you very far

There is no real perfection
There’ll be no perfect man
Just peace is our connection
For giving all you can

There’s no good kind of killing
Just power taking life
It’s all good blood that’s spilling
To make a bigger knife

So listen to my song, of life
You don’t need a gun, or a knife
Successful conversation,
can take you very far

(c) 1971 Pete Ham

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Midsummer’s Night


Again the axis ceases its slow spin,
and slides across the rachet to reverse;
the day and night become each other’s twin,
and spheres align across the universe.

In this time, when the veil between the worlds
is thin and day admits its fleeting hold
on time and space, the fabric is uncurled,
and often there are wonders to behold.

Midsummer’s Night — when faeries hold their court,
and light the sky in firefly delight,
when what seems unreal masquerades, for sport,
as hard and fast reality. You might

believe on other days the world is so
wrapped in logic, that its soul is dead;
but in this moonlight, if you dance, you’ll know
the world as it might be; and then, instead

of crying for the would and could have beens,
in vain lamenting your loss of control,
you might let go the world of only seems
and see, for once, the real, the true, the whole.

20 JUN 2005

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The summer in New Orleans melts


The summer in New Orleans melts
ambition from your bones;
and inspires dreams of northern climes,
of much more temperate zones

where flowers last a day or two
before they start to wilt,
and the ground does not suck ravenous
at water where it’s spilt,

where saunas are a novelty.
Here, one does not require
expensive redwood boxes built
just so you can perspire.

The air fights you at every breath;
it’s thick, and wet and hot,
and lays to waste wrought iron,
turns all exposed wood to rot.

The oh-so-languid pace of winter
here gets slower still;
expect no summer revolutions
in this fetid swill.

17 JUN 2005

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A June night like a fat man at a bus stop


The fetid dark sits on the house
like a fat man at the bus stop,
sweat pooled on the plastic seat
too narrow for his sturdy frame,
and the night jasmine’s heavy scent
assaults the senses, cloying sweet,
like the memory of his aftershave
after the bus has come and gone;
mixed with the bitter-sour sub-note
of endless folds of tortured flesh
chafed raw from polyester slacks
and trapped in nylon support hose.

Tonight the fat man’s breathing slow,
his rough exhale hot sticky clouds;
frantic mosquitoes seek its source,
sensing the vast expanse it hides.
There in the candle’s flicker flame
they hover in vampire patrols,
drawn by the jasmine scented stench
that seeps out with each shift or twitch.

1 JUN 2005

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The Swarm


Like whirling dervishes they congregate
around the bright lit porches and streetlamps,
their bodies hurling like mad wax-winged clouds
that seek where water meets with tender wood.
Against their onslaught, darkened houses crouch
low to the earth, hoping their bones are dry
enough to seem less tempting to this horde,
and seem to hold their breath ’til it swarms by.
They even chase cars down the wood-lined streets,
as if those headlamps led like piper’s notes
to glens and forests filled with hardwood trunks
where they could feast for endless hours in peace.

From block to block they travel, seeking out
a damp and fetid place where food is near;
and then, when night’s ink blots the grey of dusk
they fold their wings, crawl off and disappear.

It’s said they follow, blind, a rebel queen
who must split from her family or die;
to save the kingdom as it grows in size,
each daughter takes a legion to the skies.
Their soldier’s stomachs fill along their trail,
from Pontchartrain uptown to Magazine;
through live oak and great cypress-covered streets
destruction marks the way that they have been.
Where they’ve encamped, the kindling’s turned to dust;
at just a touch great beams and walls collapse,
while parque floors and Quarter ceilings flake
away to skeletons and fire traps.

Tonight the window lamps are left at dim.
The armies of Formosans are astir;
and woe to those whose timber lies beneath
the echo of that hungry cassion’s whir.

26 May 2005

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