RAW AND VULGAR (for Dan S Hart and Bruce Sehorne)
One by one hundred I just keep on singing, chewing time and killing meters,
Piling stars across the night, stripping pieces of this intolerant flesh
And laying it all down into an American song, a suburban pastoral
Of eulogy …
Counting stars and humming along as best I can. The night is a sonnet.
Yeah, song strummed on vapor trails, beaten through granite dust,
Sung along tree lines, blackberry patches, creekside in the rhododendrons,
Where up by the road this hydra headed plantation just keeps on building,
Keeps on killing all in the name of beauty and the South
And keeps on killing every beautiful thing about the South
The land that I see embedded in my skin in my voice and in my eyes
This land that is me that is falling bit by bit to the torture called
Subdivision, mixed used and expansion, this land that is dying
To be saved but nonetheless succumbs, that is the verse on my lips
A creation eulogy, a moment grasped on the dark walkway,
A stab at cityscapes and visions of malls and shopping districts,
So why is it all poetry is eulogy, why is that I walk not for me
But for sake of preserving a conversation or two shared between friends,
Ah hell, rip language sausages and fry me a river, this ain’t the South,
All dried up and filled with constructions that represent nothing
But bad architecture and childish business models, where a pure
Vowel stretched is an unrecognized dialect, a voice of nature
That is Georgia by the hills, but a suit can’t hear it and dollar
Can’t buy it, but there it is, spoken, sentences, long dipthongs
Uncorrupted by politics or northern aggression, I speak this, proudly.
It is my dream: My dream to be completely who I am.
Turn back and read, a day later it all looks childish.
I see the English ivy crawl up, devouring, eating pine and oak,
The suburb dies a little and the county tells me that easement damage
Is cost from my pocket book, my money county thief, mine.
Here is the test of the phrase “sins of the father” cause none of this
Is my doing, none of this is because of me, in fact it is in spite of.
Symbolic emails and one sided conversations collide and repose
As roadmarks to my evolution, pen-wise and keyboard enabled.
I want to forget who I am and drive the devil down. I love narcissism.
A rain shower stands on plateaus west of here; steady, wanting to feed,
rain down on this water absent region, mighty and thick it sits and wails,
The Middle Oconee River limps currents below and then turns creek,
Just a creek where the bridge crosses beside a forest and a field. Just a creek.
Open land. Forest. Twin beauties. Heavy. Twins marked to be crushed.
And then end of the year floods came, tricky dead wood gathers,
Water, wind and a leaky roof cut smiles off my face like falling razors.
The development begins. Orange flags map and mark,
Signifying ends, and beginnings. I hate these things.
I hear the thistle weeping.
Muffled, trying to walk like light on mist without touching a thing in sight,
Without even being here I walk around the narrow dark path,
Steam pounds upon the beech bark, deer breath, crow, hawk and crazy squirrel,
Even my own clean lungs expire like oil into the pristine world around me.
Songs from Don Chambers tangled in the ferns and dangling in the magnolias,
His voice captures the mossy breath that lumbers over a cemetery, lumbers
The same way that it glides through song poems Falling Off The Edge Of The World, Strange Faith,
And I’m singing this elegy, singing Conjuring A Dead Rabbit,
In the song, in the moment here, in this moment now I see the veins
Entering my wrist, pumping, infused with this life and mystery forest.
Fear. Desire. Lust. Danger lurks. Passion speaks and I can’t hesitate.
And the horseman comes back around again beneath the eaves
Of a two trunked chinaberry, this again the pale green white vapor
Imitating form, horse high shadow and a vengeful snort laugh to anger,
I’ve never been less a man; I’ve never crumbled so fast under pressure,
But fall you bet, and I fall harder, fallen, a horse hoof rises between
Burgundy red wide eyes, “why’ve you come back, why did you come again?”
Circle me. Hooves, ‘chush, shushck, shush’ on pinecones and needles.
Circle trees and trample tender blue Sweet William, barely rising through the soil,
Lost country flower torn between barnyards and cornrows, around stoops
And front porches, lost in a stand of condemned trees, trying to find a way
Out into sunlight and hedgerows, and then it’s gone. I gotta fight.
WELL OF COURSE IT’S SCRATCH at the crossroads. The name is life and death.
That we live is the miracle and that we live on in question is the anti-miracle.
And in the garden of Southern mysticism a mirror is the answer to everything.
3 a.m. the dogs leave the room to guard in a quieter night.
Talking about Elvis, the albums and the photographs,
The way his records were all picked up and auctioned off by RCA.
Raked through and sold by a thousand hungry hands,
Greedy hands, an iron broom separating songs
That should have never been released, the Kings throwaways
Bringing down the dollars, more in death than his voice ever could alive,
A living set of lungs and two walking legs. This man never sleeps.
Uneasy in death, unable to stay down, looking for other
Southern souls to wake and to warn from danger and wrath,
Yes, even Elvis still courses through dreams. holds his hand
To the heart and mind, sing a bit, even frighten and shake,
“Veer away from death old soul, veer away, AWAKE!”
And the unsteady 3 a.m. howls and gurgles up from my throat,
I lay sleeping and choking on the night itself, shake, shake,
Shake awake out of the shadows and I lay there waiting,
Really being pulled to the end of the bed, a shade laughs.
Trying to untie the muscles in my throat to scream, but I cannot,
Just a howl, just a prayer on the mist, just a man closer to god.
Pulling down an eleventh veil in the three o’clock hour.
Wandering spirit just wants to be known again and not lost,
When a wandering Southern heart just wants to rest awhile
And leave a message, “don’t let them forget, don’t let them hurt”…
3 a.m. this crazy 3 a.m. will never let go will always come back
And tell me yes there are passings here in the early morning,
Here where icon and a lilith fight it, tussle out over flesh
And leave me sweating over what does it mean. I hope it’s over.
What does it mean? What?
Uncomfortable. The sweet lonely swell of wind,
A scent of old coffee, charred and bitter,
But I can’t name it now, can I? Coffee.
There isn’t a better lament than the one
Of reaching for the pot and finding it burned,
Bastard dark water gone into the morning,
My darling sultry tonic out of the dawn is gone, going, gone.
And you know, I wanted the warmth, the palm sugar oiled,
Taste the black rush of Costa Rican shady grove. Ah, what the hell.
Is this what the day brings? After haunts and haints fight
Over my pale night heart and dreams, me, is this it, me?
The mirror fades.
Why can’t I pass over and just say Hello to the day?
The mirror is gone.
Salsa smooth salsa swinging in on the stereo
And I wish I could climb down off the ladder and dance.
That step forward forward sideways back sideways forward
And shimmy shimmy push and shake head bobbing down up up.
Dance little sister dance sings magic Santana band.
Aztec lizard gods descend and shoot smoke epistles to the land.
Corn grows and the tomato crops are looking healthy.
A strawberry bursts in the heat.
Language and growth,
So this is what dance is all about, huh, so I’ve been doing
It wrong all along, like so many other things, wrong all along.
Growing older much past the rebellion age,
Much past the point when I should know better
This thing about the dance hits me,
I never passed the stage where excuses were no longer necessary,
I never came to see that what I say and do announces,
That I do not need to always justify.
Just like the dance, learn the steps, learn the body language
And then the movement is enough.
The body always spoke in ways that I could not.
Salsa and samba, the old Hustle and Pony, poems alive,
And the long passion of epics is realized in Tango and Waltz.
I can’t get past the Twist. Mash Potato, do this Patti Smith, boney maroney.
Do this thing where the emotions stagnate and yet fight to grow.
Static snow on the clover and dandelions,
A clear, cold stream races over black slate and fools gold,
Jarred and smacked against the car door,
Jumping water and hitting the black tar once again,
This little truck of mine does OK some of the time.
Buddha on the dashboard, Mickey Mouse in the ashtray,
Goofy and a stegosaurus wrangle for shotgun,
And behind the wheel I sing and drive on,
Singing in the car, singing alone, fun Southern drive
Singing off key singing nothing like the song on the stereo,
Singing “it ain’t me babe, no no no, it ain’t me…”
“It ain’t me…so I break on through to the other side
day becomes the night night becomes the day week to weak
hour to hour break on through to…American girl raised on
Dreams and promises…break down and give it to me now it’s alright,
It’s alright…running down a dream runnning down a light”,
“in the shadow of the cage around the 40 watt light”
And after Dylan, Doors, Tom Petty and Drive By Truckers
The static claw finger hits a sharp banjo:
“I can waltz though my hands are tied I can hold you close
And whisper lies”, and so D. Chamber chants down the moon.
And by the time I’m at the service it’s obvious to me
That something is breaking, something is breaking inside of me.
Snow ices up on the window and I can’t see a thing.
I’m sick of all the killing and death. Sick of all the theft.
God gives and takes. Buddha laughs.
Great gods of murder, calamity and sorrow all come together
And have a laugh on us. Thanks for nothing sister Shiva,
Thanks for nothing, you Ego freeing beast, thanks for nothing.
Friendships become harder the older I grow. I want to capture
Daylight and hold them all close a little longer,
But that’s not gonna happen.
Looking out past tear and salt drowned eyes,
Hugs and handshakes don’t compensate,
And yeah, I march around all tall and red faced, the ground my bulls eye,
The brakes in my mind get lost on trails of tales of wild spotted deer,
Of nights driving home through fog and mist, through sweet alfalfa,
Through fields laced with yellow wheat, with rolled bales of tall rye grass.
The road to Oglethorpe County was a lot of woods and pasture,
Horse fence and dirt roads, roads pine lined and blackberry guarded,
These pulsating roads were the ones we raced,
The ones we drove every night,
Home from the rock and roll mecca, Athens, Georgia.
And home we drove in Dan’s beat up maroon Volvo.
To the dark, dark inner country roads, part pebble, part asphalt,
Where a Church stood, where three tattered white crosses guarded the lawn,
This church dedicated to snake gods and white flowers,
To dogwoods and the book of Jeremiah, to marching into glory with a song.
How many girls stood in the crossroads at 1 a.m and promised lazy love
Into legend, who promised to each steady standing star that poem was all
And we were just a stanza.
That’s the story I want to tell. The one I try to set loose
And yet every second I breathe an ocean bursting,
Call it what you will I call it emotion.
Not a dry cheek in the amphitheater.
We hold each other now to hold onto Now.
When a mother loses a son and a wife her husband, a daughter her father
And the rest of us just stand and wonder, someone tell me
what of mother, husband and father? So I have to speak……..
I must but I can’t I have to speak to eulogize to say something that will comfort.
“When Napoleon met Goethe he paused and held up a hand and said:
Here is man.” (in French of course but here it is the importance of phrase)
Not here is a man or here is some man or the man, no, he said Here Is Man.
This is how I feel when I speak of my friend, that here is man,
An example of the life lived for us all. Daniel S. Hart truly was Man.
But this is the thing, the Kantian thing that is there, the thing is that,
And that is us, we are each man and woman,
and we are each A man and A woman.
And we are as well as are not.
I am. You are. We are.
I. You. We.
I against I? Hell no. I am.
Water spirits leave.
I know this ice melts and all love evolves.
So tell me why when dark clouds know my name and the crows know my name
That with each wind and crackling loud ka kaw!
I am not comforted I am not calm. Call my name!
Shadows press into the window, up against the wall,
Shadows even know my name,
Yeah, marching straight time down wet and hilly streets,
Marching so I can find me, find me a maze to circle in and around,
Go down by the water in the gulley by my house,
Go down like Moses to the slow and sludgy ripples, go down and dig the bones,
Dig under the stones, dig under the fallen leaves,
Dig at the base of dogwood and maple; dig ‘til you can tell me
I’ve dug down far enough, dig until the answers stand taller than the sun,
And then, then tell me that the crows don’t know,
That the crows and thunderbirds have forgotten who I am, I have.
I have given up the hunt, handed over desire,
I want to know so I can be calm so I can sleep.
So who will comfort when the herd stampedes and all you can see is dust and sun?
Will the rains really do this, will the rains wash away or just push,
Push the trash Deeper in? I want a bucket to throw up in.
I want a Western saddle and a gun. I want to ride.
“Open up the gates, I’m coming home” sang the goat.
And I wrote. In sadness and loss the page becomes me.
There were many things including this, and the one that was carved in stone,
The poem that was born from his death, as memorial for his wife, Beth,
His daughter, Zoe and to his parents Marvin and Orlene, to any who
Would see in the Brandywine Valley this six foot tall polished and gray
With arched top stone, granite, so hard and ever lasting, granite,
And it was there, and I was humbled more than ever, G-d looks upon us,
And we read the Kaddish and I wore his bar mitzvah cap,
We held hands and read these words, so Southern yet Jewish, so Universal,
Words to praise a life, words to grant peace, words, adoration and comfort,
This is the eulogy, my last song to friendship, to my dear friend, Dan:
My life lived so fast, full and pure,
Brimming with energy, desire, curious for more,
One dream to become completely who I am,
One love and one child my heart became alive,
And with all these things I was happy,
Happy to be amongst you, happy to be a man,
Happy to have flown, fished and found,
To have found this life just what I wanted
Just what I loved: To be a man,
A father, son and husband to the world.
H Lamar Thomas
DANIEL S. HART
AUGUST 27, 1967 to December 4, 2007
Oh damn, yes that’s my name on the marker,
My name before my calling, that’s my name on the stone in the Brandywine Valley.
I am not ready.
Unblinking green eyed stare.
This land is so beautiful.
I want to create.
I am ready.
And it like this, it is this, knowing friendship and love,
Beloved and warm, chaotic and embraced for all the right reasons,
A better man for my wife, a better friend and a better life.
I am not ready.
Open sesame dammit! Open up and stop being so vain.
Wish I could meet the author of the Song of Songs, of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah.
Bang Bang! The night, bang the cracking limbs in the storms,
Bang! burn down the ragged barns, put up new fences and plant bamboo,
And it does not help to fear or to attack, it does not help to ever give up.
Shouts and shouts and that recurrent Bang! of silence burning down,
And memories run away, inspiration dies at the Bang! but Bang!
It does and I will not give up.
I remember standing beneath the water tower at my house
On the Star Highway, Hiway 1 of the California legends,
Standing by my Malibu station wagon, stand in the night, tired,
Leaning and looking out on the wild succulent grove, moon bright,
Moon alive and smooth, an easy wind curling down the mountainside,
Traveling to my house here near the sea, and then as on cue an owl flies by,
Yes, swoops and hoots, clicks a few times and crawls into the tower.
Native Americans there said the owl is a death message,
Bang! it scared me, but there is always death, just the same as life,
So each night it became a ritual of me standing and loving the stars,
And sister owl just hanging out, raising a family, living the owl life,
Living in a way that makes a mockery of metaphor and fairy tale.
But any way, I hang onto to both legend and truth.
Both have meaning.
I am glad.
The buzz of gnats and a passing choir of dogs howling,
Power and knowledge, acceptance and atonement,
Creation expands from silence,
Creation pops bubbles and smiles Peace inside inferno,
And I know I love. And this is what I know,
In deep water and in dry summer, all thanks, all hands,
There are no more metaphors.
Embrace. I am glad. Glad for all that I have known.
I look on the face of a thirty-year-old pocket watch,
It reads 10:10 and the horses on the silver cover stand in place running,
One nipping the neck of the front steed, left legs rose, poised, racing.
There’s no race.
The engraving says: ONE STEP UP.
Pale etching in old metal; oak leaves and vines on the back, almost filigree,
Kinda cool, it feels soothing on the tips of my heat ravaged fingers;
The wages of a life in the kitchen, delicate yet worn and scratchy engravings
On my own speckled hands, freckle shining, bright blue veins pulsing,
This is a race in itself, isn’t it? The shot of blood always moving, in and out,
A few pints here, a few pints there, paused in the heart holds and parlors,
My own wind up is the wind pushing over Pacific waves, over sand and saw grass,
Cleansing thing, a very nice cleansing thing these bastard lonely waves crashing
Over inside and over again into each other, and then the break, the rush over rock
And cliff side, this is the way the heart must be, bashing and pushing, holding
Buckets of molecules for a moment long enough to shove it back down,
Tick tock, it goes again gaining speed and building momentum, tick tock,
This isn’t it, Wendy, but the crocodile follows all of us, doesn’t it? Tick tock.
Captain Hook isn’t even the problem; the darkness can’t have a name,
The dark stabs and penetrates smiles and hope; the dark is a sharp knife
Held at minute hand’s tip, ticking, stupid tick, not a rhythm not a beat
Just this horrid shining set of angers and discord slung from clocks’ end
Into the world around us.
I want to take one step up.
I want to evolve.
And these crazed Pan references are Freudian old, dead Id old, moldy dead
Vacant slabs of thick paint old, so old I know there is no forgiveness,
No more turning back clocks and memory, I can’t bounce from rock to rock
Or over dunes like I did in the Mendocino days, I kinda walk and wander,
Skip rocks over kudzu patches and wish they were the sea, I wish it was the sea.
Ballads and bad lads, a slice of night on the specials board, long days hawking
Fresh food for the masses, long hours sweating, living on a nerves edge alive
I press on, cutting, slicing, portioning, thinking, rotating, cleaning, directing,
A shout here and there but mostly speaking, speaking works wonders
When the crew is all love, love and hate for the food. A Chef’s life.
Some days I feel like food, as if I were the garlic, the ginger, the cinnamon stick,
Yeah, like a clove of garlic squeaking, watching Chinese steel
Come down on the bamboo board, being torn apart and then thinly sliced.
Being a part of the picture, a piece in the puzzle or best of all, an ingredient,
True, oxygen kills and gives life, and we fight against oxygen sometimes,
Working fast, getting the ingredients together just in time, just in that moment
Before aging starts to take away flavor, we do it for the flavor, chop and run.
Fresh means something; it means something grand.
Nightlines breaking like beech trees falling in sudden snowstorms,
Tulip maples and magnolias felled in the roads and backyards of my home,
Fences break, roads succumb and power lines flare up like cherry bombs.
Staring up in the scattering snow, so thick, no form, just a shotgun blast
From 10 p.m. March 1, 2009. Hear the forest killing itself.
The crush of stupid drivers coming down the hill, the spinning desperation,
A slip and a crash. Just go to sleep big Suburban, just go to sleep and stay
Awhile beneath the pines, stay a while and leave your passengers to go,
Let the land drink in this cold display, let the land rest and regenerate.
I got a Huskavara chainsaw chewing it’s way out of the garage,
16 inches of blade, hungry to get going, oiled and gassed,
This is one angry machine, and I am one cold driver, one cold man
In one cold white night, one rich night into an icy dawn, grey dawn.
I am Lonely in the snow. My shoes wet, my toes cold from sweat and melting ice.
Shadow lays itself down upon a broken and dead dogwood.
Lifting the breathing carcass of Rose Of Sharon, or was it Camellia?
To me it’s all pink blooms in winter, and it comes back to life,
Frozen flowers and all, this tender but feisty tree comes back to life.
“I wish I had the power over judgment day”, wish I could resurrect
These few fallen friends, good people downed just like the pines.
I know my heart is sleeping in these ponderosa pines, and I know
My thoughts are tangled like Ledbelly’s heartless love,
I sense a train is coming, I hear the grave stones crack.
No dust rises around my feet and the food I eat is salty and raw,
Man, I want a press pot coffee, Columbian, black as hell and burning.
And the snows take another tree down, down across a roof out back,
A woman comes out screaming, this tree just killed her house.
Death has mercy. I think. I hear the songs my friends used to love,
I hear them laughing as I chug along, I wish dear Bruce and Dan
Were here today, I want to tell them they are loved, I want those
Spirits to be free, the river howls down in the distance and I sing louder,
Louder than the cry of all the birds around me hunting.
I sing loud. I want the devil to know that I am coming for him.
I am the guy in the graveyard holding his breath
Till mortality stops being mortal.
Chinks of stone embed in my palms from holding broken Jesus statues.
I call down stupid demon history and swear these angels
Are nothing but jokes against all things that I believed.
Come down and hold me.
Tell me something is cherished.
I am not done. Am I? I am. . . . NOT DONE.
Quick poet chained with bracelets and charms.
See the alarming happiness and hope silenced.
See this? What does anything matter if it just
Means that again this is tossed out into the wind,
Friends dying and killed, blood, booze, explosions and heroin.
My own vanity can’t even justify this thing that I call me.
This, this life that I believed was beloved.
It is not.
It’s all about me. I’m all I know.
The mirror never takes a holiday.
There’s a spray of barbed wire behind every birth.
Mystery slams a hand down and ushers up a smile.
Anyone can do better. Anyone can be more.
We have a choice, to create or to destroy; it always comes around to this,
Around and around, the need is not the question; the want is not the desire,
I have chosen that no matter what I will create and I will build,
I do it all in reverence and love, from laughter to a scream, I do it all with love.
Pure heart comes from a wild life lived.
Justice comes from doing these things in spite of the hate that madness brings.
And yes, as surely as the round Buddha touches earth,
As surely as the Prophet fed the masses,
There is a car waiting to take it all away. Death drive. Life drive.
Just drive on. Drive on. Drive.
This thing that’s on my lips? Beloved goes on, she goes on and says
She wants to get away, it is all she wants, she wants to go away.