Waiting for Heaven


pile of poems,
a scattering of short stories,
a minor mess of manuscripts,
all in a state of perpetual preparation.
I wait to see
what will happen today.

These things, bits of a lonely soul,
Hopeful of attention float into
Jackson Square,
New Orleans, on a random Saturday morning.
Jock and Michelle
play a mix of the classics
in the next patch of shade.

Lovely, dark Michelle on the violin,
Jock, recently of Columbus,
sits in on the keyboard.
Buffalo, the veteran, hair strapped
by a black cloth band, plucks
a soulful strain from Mozart
on a battered guitar.
Its case is open on the dirty concrete,
a few coins and bills
coaxed from a family from Iowa,
will buy one or two meals,
a share of a dump on
Decatur Street, when he’s
not enjoying the wonders
between a girlfriend’s thighs in
a ratty old apartment in the Tremé.

His trio, assembled for the day,
seem barely out of
high school, or some music program
up north. Each wandered to NOLA
to live the mythical life of music,
for the joy of it, happy
with friends, happy to live
rough, running from gig to gig,
earning a street corner on Thursdays
to seduce tips from tourists,
getting thinner and gradually
realizing that love alone will
not feed the bulldog.

But oh, there are times, just
like this morning, as tourists
walk by and glance at my books
without buying,
thick air moving into
the square from the river,
the magnolias in bloom,
the smell of overflowing
dumpsters, junkies sliding
along the alleys, looking to score.
And then Michelle,
long black hair gathered in a bun, bare
arms in a small black dress and almond-eyed,
raises the violin her father
bought her for her
promise, for respectable concert halls,
far from the dirty streets
of New Orleans. She
closes her eyes and summons

The voices of angels
to earth to move
among we the lost, but crying to heaven.
The ache and purity of the sound freezes
everyone nearby,  even the junkies,
souls seized
by something holy,
just for a minute.
And my heart remembers what it hungers for.

Cruising with the Beach Boys


by Dana Gioia

Dana Goia
Dana Goia

So strange to hear that song again tonight
Traveling on business in a rented car
Miles from anywhere I’ve been before.
And now a tune I haven’t heard for years
Probably not since it last left the charts
Back in L.A. in 1969.
I can’t believe I know the words by heart
And can’t think of a girl to blame them on.

Every lovesick summer has its song,
And this one I pretended to despise,
But if I was alone when it came on,
I turned it up full-blast to sing along —
A primal scream in croaky baritone,
The notes all flat, the lyrics mostly slurred.
No wonder I spent so much time alone
Making the rounds in Dad’s old Thunderbird.

Some nights I drove down to the beach to park
And walk along the railings of the pier.
The water down below was cold and dark,
The waves monotonous against the shore.
The darkness and the mist, the sea,
The flickering lights reflected from the city —
A perfect setting for a boy like me,
The Cecil B. DeMille of my self-pity.

I thought by now I’d left those nights behind,
Lost like the girls that I could never get,
Gone with the years, junked with the old T-Bird.
But one old song, a stretch of empty road,
Can open up a door and let them fall
Tumbling like boxes from a dusty shelf,
Tightening my throat for no reason at all,
Bringing on tears shed only for myself.
“Cruising with the Beach Boys” by Dana Gioia from 99 Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2016.

Cliffdiving


Then I heard   two notes     like a piano       one pink         the other           light blue             when I               pushed off                 the ledge                  suspended                   mid-air                    that                     feeling                     of falling                     for what                     felt like                     forever                     in a                     moment                     plunging                     […]

https://consciousnesscreatesreality.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/cliffdiving/

The Third Twenty Years


Courtesy Deviant Art
Pablo Casals, Courtesy Deviant Art

Pablo Casals had this to say about age and excellence: “The first twenty years you learn. The second twenty years you practice. The third twenty years you perform. And the fourth twenty years you play.”

I’m realizing I have a few more performances to go yet, and am looking forward to the play time. Every day starts with the thought “time to quit screwing around.”