Counterpoint: Domestic Strife and Miles ’64

A flurry of words assaults the ear
as she storms back in the room,
alto voice filling the space
left by the withering blast
of the horn; the false lull breaks

as the drum, relentless, kicks
forward the time, and her growl
bites off the bar viciously,
saying, listen close and learn –
you don’t know my opinion.

No, no, that’s my quick response,
block chords of the piano
trying to fix the segue,
substituting chord after chord,
as the bass beneath pushes

us ahead, red hot and mad,
working the room with anger;
the murderous notes fly wild,
burning away useless charts
as Miles and I turn our backs,

and say, “Never mind.”

The head that began it all
now lost, deliberately,
only tensions and guide tones
suggesting of melody,
her alto pauses and breathes

as the snare drum snaps, alert,
finding the primal level
in our talk, the undertow
where the nothing we share breeds
and lets loose its dark malice.

A conversation, I think,
is not about streams of words
in space from a single voice,
but interplay of accent;
subtle questions in each pause

a spur driving another line,
or emphasis, amplifying
the other’s words, pushing back
perhaps only with a breath
to change rhythm and the tune,

like saying, “So What?”

For the song is not possessed
by one alone; it weaves and moves
from alto to first, trumpet,
then to bass and to the drum,
brass bell, then ivory key,

as moistened reed gives way, back
to the brass, struck on its edge
by wire brush; each one pushing,
working off of each other,
waiting to get the last word.

Now she’s back in the kitchen,
but her solo I block out;
focusing my quiet vamp
’til she sits out a chorus
and I can speak my own phrase

as she turns her back to me,
thinking, like Miles, of control,
giving me a bit of space,
with an irritating cool
that shows she is the leader.

The band says, “We hate that.”

Revised version 10.31.2001

A lover’s question: a débat

He says, “I cannot find the words.”
She says, “Well, you just did;
and furthermore, it’s very clear
what’s been done and been hid.
There is no sense in acting like
you’d sooner up and die;
it is not poison, my dear boy.”
He says, “Crocodiles cry.”

She says, “You babble on of love,
citing eternity
while wasting moments and your breath.
What is the point? Tell me.”
He says, “Beyond the scope of time,
far past this mortal coil,
those near death moments still live on;
they will not rot or spoil.”

“And love…what else is worth such work?
Tho’ you’re hard to convince,
there is no grander cause for death,
nor much hard evidence
that anything we try will last
or stand when we are gone.
What else would you have us enjoin,
what bone to gnaw upon?”

She says, “Although you may be right,
which pains me much to say,
we travel at the speed of now
where yesterday, today
and what will be are much the same.
So your eternity
exists like its own Schrödinger,
to be or not to be.”

“So love, no matter what it is,
imagined or for real,
is all we have between us here
to know, to touch, to feel?”
He says, “It may be nothing,
but without it, we are lost.”
She says, “Convince me, if you can.”
He says, “But at what cost?”

“My love escapes beyond the gates
you place around your heart.”
She says, “You may yet find a key,
and with your words, your art,
melt this cold chill from off my bones.”
He says, “Oh, if I could;
just let my love’s bright embers spark
and catch upon your wood.”

She says, “I love you, well enough;
let this brave thing endure.”
He says, “For all the rest of time,
so sweet, so sad, so pure.”
She says, “You have convinced me;
take your property, my heart.”
He says, “You’re wrong, for that one’s mine;
you’ve had it from the start.”

Well, what of that? What do you think?
Who wins such a debate?
No wonder even gods lament
that nature leaves to fate
the future, when it is quite clear
that love has little chance
against the intellect who holds
themselves against romance.

12 DEC 2012

This is Bliss

I don’t know what you know,
I only know what I’ve been told;
I don’t know just when this thing started,
I only know it’s getting old.

I don’t know where we’re going
(barely remember where we’ve been),
but I can tell which way the wind is blowing.
Look to your valuables, my friend.

They say it’s just the times, but I don’t know;
just saying it don’t ever make it so.

I don’t know how you get through it –
probably much the same as me;
and I don’t know, sometimes I just say screw it.
Could be that’s how it ends, maybe.

I don’t know about your sense of humor,
but I know we’re in this together;
I don’t know sometimes to laugh or cry –
what can you do about the weather?

They say the world’s run out of gas;
just wishing it don’t make it come to pass.

I don’t know what you know;
or if I think it’s worth your thinking.
I don’t know if we can get along,
it all depends on what we’re drinking.

I don’t know where we’re headed;
could be salvation, or destruction.
In either case, we both may have to face
a whole new method of instruction.

They say the end is near, my brother;
not much you can do about it, one way or the other.

What is this? This is bliss:
letting go of letting go.
What is this? This is bliss:
both of us admitting we don’t know.

13 MAY 2011

Super 8

Cheap hotel, out on the turnpike
between come and gone;
far too late for sleeping,
far too early to be getting on.

Who can tell? Sometimes the line
between what’s right and wrong
fades into nothing,
like an old fashioned country song.

You and me? It’s hard to figure out
the bottom line;
too much time together,
not enough of it was very fine.

Some say love heals every wound,
and some say love is blind;
When it’s gone,
it doesn’t leave too much behind.

What we had is over,
and it really doesn’t matter whose to blame.
Really makes no difference,
win or lose, you end with nothing just the same.

Cheap hotel, out on the turnpike
just a mile or so;
far enough to say I’m leaving,
close enough to nowhere else to go.

Lowdown Existential Blues

Just like everybody, I try to get along;
but I can’t win for losing, things always turn out wrong.
Need to have a membership,
but I have an objection to the dues.
I’ve got the feeling non-essential,
clearly quintessential
lowdown existential blues.

I could stand for something, but really, what’s the point?
It’s not like what I say will change the way they run this joint.
I still end up walking the extra mile
in someone else’s shoes.
I’ve got the wrong end of the pencil,
most irreverential
lowdown existential blues.

You don’t need my opinion on the way it ought to be;
you do just what you want to, in the end.
Nowhere doing nothing is reward unto itself;
No sense in wasting time on let’s pretend.

Yes, it’s a dilemma; I don’t know what to do.
Seems I’m good for nothing; I know that to be true.
Doesn’t seem to matter much
what answers that you’re seeking, or the clues.
I’ve got the sittin’ on the fence will
make you non-essential
lowdown existential blues.

21 SEP 2007

What has the Earth to Do

What has the earth to do with air?
They seem a most unlikely pair.
Just look to the horizon, where
they touch for miles, but cross nowhere.

What has the sky to do with land?
The ground will never understand;
it may find heights, but none so grand
as air seeks without thought or plan.

What has the earth to do with air?
Look to the fields and roadways where
when mixed with diligence and care
their children grow beyond compare.

What has the air to do with earth?
It gives it life and fire and mirth;
and just beyond the sight, gives birth
to flowers that cost a penny’s-worth.

20 JUN 2007

Grounding

To find again the solid ground,
the pulse beneath the surging song
that lends its subharmonic sound
to all that hear and sing along;

To seek the strings that touch the heart,
that plucked, would shake the listening spine
and signal for the dance to start,
to find grape deep within the wine.

To sense the beat within the vein
and chart its course from start to end;
so feeding soul and bone and brain
with food that causes hurt to mend.

To find again the fertile earth
where roots run down and deep, unseen,
for nutrients that may give birth
both to what will, and what could be.

03 JUN 2007