JANUARY 20, 2021

There was a time when I had a song to sing
When verse and music rang with order and rhythm in writing and play
And now all I know is disorder, dismay, this loser presidential insurrection thing
Or whatever is the loser presidential crisis of the day

This military presence surrounding the Mall and people’s house
Where Carol and I strolled summoned by all those loser presidential lies
His drunk lemming loser acolytes genuflecting this louse
Off the cliff of reason, sunk deep in unsubstantiated mires where truth dies

And I write a song.  A good performance song on a platform upstaged
By a raucous tragicomedy loser presidential reality gong show
And piano tones I play ring hollow in an echo chamber enraged—
The riot’s cacophonic muse strings discord, a noose played by insurrectionist bow

I play the blues but hear only angry death metal
Melodic changes gift joys deliciously—those same joys seditiously supplanted
And an hour of peace with keyboard tones that ring gentle
In my heartfelt art is all that I ever want and wanted

PLOUGHMEN DIG NOT FOR ME

Businessmen do not drink my wine
The man in the suit has not bought a new car
From any profit he made off my dreams
Though dreams I have, have dreamed, dream

I’ve imbibed conventional wisdom’s grasp on the vitality of dreams
That dreams make a life out of otherwise existence
Aethereal dreams awaken into materiality, matter’s reality;–all real
Nobody can doubt the reality of a dream and live

One doesn’t dream in terms written by dollars and status
Defined in the lexicon legislated by ledger books
Businessmen withdraw from intangibles that weigh golden hopes
Dream reality resists materialism and yet materializes

Whole symphonies deconstruct as ones and zeros in a cloud somewhere
And Bach’s C-Moll Passacaglia is pulses of air
But digital scans and air differentials don’t explain to ears
The mystery that is a melody—even if construed through standing wave proportions

Sometimes my pen dreams in ink dots materializing on a musical staff
The keys on my piano reverberate beats my heart feels
Manifesting the immaterial into the physical world
While air waves question what they, themselves, are doing

At other times, words grow out of my consciousness
Planted in ink and tree pulp tending to a poem’s making
My pen glides across the blank, white sheet in dark lines
To become a dream of some distant reader in my mind: a virtual reality

Nobody pays me for my dreams.  No.
I grunt and sweat under a heavy timeclock on my back
No ploughman digs earth for me
I’ve dug my own footings on which the whole world is built for me

My grandmother told me I wasn’t very good at making money
When I was an impoverished grad student
Even now, I don’t make much money, nor have creditable prospects
Yet I’m good at making, dreaming, making dreams live

Making for me is as making money for businessmen
I’m good at living without much money, without much interest in making money
Dreams pay me more than dollars, when I have money
I lack really for nothing but dreams fulfill

THE WASTE THAT DESCENDS UPON ME

I can’t practice with Depakote in me

Playing over the same wrong notes I know better

Before my nightly dose, and it’s all a waste after the pills

It’s only been 6 months since my last med adjustment

It was all a waste for 27 years before my p-doc took me off olanzapine

And I couldn’t play my embarrassed way through a single song

Finish a Tai Ch’i form and someone in the studio noticed

Me wearing a Harvard sweatshirt and asked me

About it and why I couldn’t get it

Now the fog clears in the morning like sleeping off a drunk

And I get back to the piano and the new charts I’m learning

For the new band I’m forming I think I can play in as if my old chops

Were still there, when I could play Bach’s Toccata in D-Minor

And now I’m stumbling through Little Wing after my 10PM meds

The Depakote I can’t play under the influence of or operate heavy machinery

And it’s only rote scales which I need anyway

After my nightly dose, the waste that descends upon me and my practice sessions

I can’t play under the influence of Depakote

Only write

ALL THE LAWS WE CALL LINGUISTIC

The words of the Rig Veda are chanted

The revelation that the Rishis heard

Rhythmic hymns that Sarasvati granted

Written down as sacred text and word

The Rishis have been called visionaries

In more than one textbook that I have found

Writing from Eurocentric theories

Which teach that vision is more spiritual than sound

Sarasvati, Goddess of music,

Revealed Her wisdom through the sense of hearing

When all the laws that we call linguistic

Were melody and music and singing

DURGA PUJA

My laptop broke and tech support where I bought it wasn’t being helpful

So I called Hewlett-Packard on their direct tech support line

Of course, they routed my call to India, to a pleasant tech named Deepak

He apologized for the background noise on his end; the festival Durga Puja

Was being celebrated today this, the final of 10 days

I vaguely recalled Durga from a religion class 34 years ago

And I asked Deepak of he knew of the Goddess Sarasvati

She, the Goddess of music, learning, and language

I, a musician, scholar, and writer

Sarasvati gave India the Vedas, when religion was verse and verse, song

Deepak said he knew Sarasvati and She is the exact Goddess for a musician

I told Deepak I have a statuette of Sarasvati in my apartment

Across the miles and ocean, his soul touched mine, and tears welled up

In his eyes, Sarasvati is alive, and as he spoke, my statuette

Seemed to shine with an unearthly color and a strange light came over just my statuette

Only my eyes could see

Mother India, home of our western languages

Cradle of civilization unearthed at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa

Durga, the Mother who birthed all of creation

Mother to Sarasvati, not just a footnote in a religion class

Alive and real to him as is Jesus to me, his Durga Puja like my Christmas

He completed my service order and I wished him well

During the remainder of the Durga Puja Festival

Deepak said that he is sadly homebound due to COVID-19

And couldn’t celebrate with his family, and I

Don’t know if I can go without a computer for a week or so

I looked at my statuette of Sarasvati and the unearthly colors were gone

SARASVATI

There was one Goddess who comprehended it all, inspiration

And they comprehended it all together and lit the Agni Flame to call upon her, invocation

To explain her, today, we make a list

 

Long before philosophy, before science was

The Word

Before music was chanting and chanting

Verse

Created everything in the Vedas

It was all there, is all there

Song

Devas, devotion, communion, community

Sacred Flame

Carrying burning souls’ aspirations into Agni unto Sarasvati

So it was, it is in Homer, Apollo’s Delphi, in David’s

Psalms

It’s all there: wisdom, lex, lux, love, lifegiving inspiration, love giving life

Praise and supplication

 

And Babel specialized each species and genera, specious

So we have scientists, philosophers, musicians

Poetry

Alone, isolated, island unto itself, no word is an island,

Style

Isn’t sufficient to suffuse sapientia, Sophia, sophistry, silence

I live literature all allowed together, all awed

A lawless freedom of discipline

Makes

A discipline out of words

Alongside science, philosophy, music

And primal unity of what matters together

Breaks

I WOULDN’T SAY REGRET

Staring absently, the waitress

Demurred to evoke words

In reply to what he thought jocose

Signifying his accidental dissonance in most anything not

Music

At the piano

A good part of the day

Notes singing out a pentatonic sequence

Which were the scales’ iteration of their name

In every key

“It’s fun!” he exclaimed

While I sat on the couch that afternoon visit

Not even a song to me or most anybody

It’s why he’s so good

I mean good

Why his accidental dissonance, maybe, in most anything not

Music

 

He likes to check out music stores

Why wouldn’t he?

“Listen to this lick; it modulates,” he exclaimed,

After he caught my attention

Playing the baby-grand piano upon asking my permission

In the store I worked at back then

The day we met, that time

When two roads diverged before me

And I took a different road

Than the one we were both traveling by back then

 

The crowd wasn’t really listening

At the Grand Hotel’s Cupola Bar on Mackinac Island

Chit-chat, chit, chatter, chitter-chatter

Where we renewed our old friendship

It looked to me like the thrill is gone

Nor, I suppose, on the cruise ships how he makes his living now

 

Everybody’s got to make a buck

NOTE AND WORD

Notes did more than ride on rhythm

Pulsing through the unity that was the song, is the song

Uniting string, amp, voice, and ear

Hearing players sound together song

Dionysus dance energy and harmony

ALL HARMONIOUS

 

What text can never do, even if spoken

Written reference to literature speech and word

But there is the I AM

Logos

Being in existence and the regression into terms

Name and it’s gone

 

The harmonies that played together knit

Player, hearer, heart, and feet tapping

Nodding, dance, night-time, night-club

Night after night and us three

All harmonious over time

And a long time

 

Life vicissitudes over much time

The song sung together, composed of us three

Now and echo

To talk about together

ETHICS AND COVID-19

I drove home today, after a long walk in the park,

Past the reopened bars, coffee shops, on Whyte Avenue

Observed the patrons seated at tables outside and inside in the darkness

During the past few months ethics were easy:

Stay home

That meant pass time, pass time well, at home:

Read good books, go on walks, play music, binge TV

My little money lasted longer

Now that I don’t have to stay home, is it enough

To pass time, pass time well, at home?

Why did I wander around shopping malls, eat breakfast at coffee shops, lose money at the

casino?

Crave more money.

I know why I went out to hear live music.

Maybe I will still shelter in place

Read good books, go on walks, play music.

I am not the same since COVID-19

Will not be the same.

We’ll see about binging TV, craving more money.

MUSINGS ON MUSIC

Music isn’t just pretty sounds, a pulse

Rock isn’t just a distorted guitar

Blues isn’t just a 12-bar form

Music should strike fire from the heart, so said Beethoven,

Music is poetry of the soul, heart and soul

Soul music, the existence of the soul

Touched by fire, music is a living thing

Life-giving, live or recorded, alive through ages

Living with individuals through life, through aging,

In youth or age, youth and age

Peasant and king hear the same music, so say the Chinese

Pounding through the heart, hearing, heard with soul

Existence of the soul, sounds’ salve, alive

Conducted through electricity in the brain

Singing through synapses in the soul

Symphony of the senses sent from on high

Humans sang before they spoke,

The lilt of language’s inflections

Performances perfecting the human condition

Culture, cultivation, culmination of the muse’s calling

Meaning so much more than pretty sounds, a pulse

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