Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lisa Stice Returns

For some of us, tonight truly is a rainy night.  What an odd coincidence that I am publishing Lisa Stice's poems tonight.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Paddy
for Shane MacGowan

On a rainy night, slur
those lyrics rough, like
heavy feet shuffling gravel,
like this could be the last
         Slur those lyrics
rough on this rainy night,
real, like a bed with middle
slack, like far away from home,
like a dying streetlight blinking
outside a window.
                               This rainy
night, slur those lyrics, like
blood pumping through tired
veins, like a child walking home
            Slur those lyrics with
dark water falling on your face,
like whiskey spilled from a shaky
glass, like a kiss so light it’s 
hardly felt.

* Shane MacGowan (born 25 December 1957) of The Nips (1976-81), The Pogues (1982-96), The Popes (1992-98), and solo.

Caught Up In Circles

The hour is late—I hear the clock 
tick and think of you under those

white street lamps—it’s all in the past 
now—when you were mine, you were

kinda sorta my best friend—hey,
they say a stitch in time saves nine

and you’ll change somehow—you know
lately I ain’t feeling so great—I want

some lovin, but we’re not the fortunate ones.

* This cento is made up of lyrics from each of the songs on Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual Album. (This was the very first cassette I ever owned.)

** Cyndi Lauper (born 22 June 1953)

Today, I Am

words moved from paper
to hard drive—originally
in pen—it is not a cursive
kind of morning with this
Southern heat—I am sloppy
print still in pajamas and
my hair unbrushed, no
breakfast in my stomach—
no need for loops and swirls


Morning stretches across windows,
illuminates napping spots, awakens
terrier to lumber into sleep again.

Teapot and teacups wait for filling
for the whistle for bergamot steeping
for teaspoons of sugar stirred in.

Poetry whispers from closed covers—
open, why hasten the minutes,
shuffle our pages, discover quiet.

he would remove his hat
and nod his head hello

I would be unable to move
but think I nodded in reply

and in my head I would hear
him say, let us go then

hand in hand

* Italicized lines are borrowed from from Ciaran Carson's "Let Us Go Then."

I think I've posted Miles Davis' version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," but let's listen to it again:

Michael Jackson is another musician born in the 1950s, and Miles Davis covered him as well.  This is "Human Nature."

I'm going to switch gears a little.  While I was looking up videos of Randy Weston, I learned that he worked with Melba Liston, a trombone player and later an arranger.  Here are two videos of her work.

The first is "Insomnia":

The second is "My Reverie," her arrangement of Debussy's "Reverie."


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Daniel Snethen Returns Once More

Tonight, at long last, I would like to post more pieces by Daniel Snethen.  I love how he writes about nature!

Moss-back marauder.
Aquatic terror of pond 
and slow moving stream.


Elastic neck
on a ripcord,
and steely-toed claws,
ready to rip and rend 
frog-flesh  and fish-fauna.

Reduced primitive plastron
of primordial paleontological origination
with spiked tail
and leeches latched onto its carapace,
all a part of its camouflage,
as it stalks its prey 
through the mucky bottoms,
disguised by all things 
ugly and horrible.


A child watched
as the cows went to their milking stanchions.
Ada the Ayrshire,
and finally Maple.

Big Brother balanced on a wooden T-stool
tugging at Star’s milking handles.
Sounds of Holstein milk whispered off the galvanized metal milk pail.
Creamy, standing in the stall next to Star, munched her ground oats.

Dad sat on a feed bucket and emptied Ada’s bag.
Ada was Dad’s cow: his favorite cow
                                                —and he spoiled her.

Cats sat on the dirt barn floor
waiting, anticipating the filling of the milk pan.
They would fight over the milk,
not by clawing and biting,
but by shoving and snarling
until one of them ended in the center of the pan
                                                                 —bathed in sticky white milk.

Sometimes Big Brother would squirt a thin stream of milk
at a cat—into its large gaping mouth
giving the feline a small appetizer.

Mom milked Maple—or Browny as the child called her.
Browny was a Brown Swiss bovine
                                                                —and the child loved her.

She ate feed from his tiny hand,
letting him scratch her neck,
while she switched her tail,
mooing appreciatively.
Often the lad gave her an ear of corn.
Browny wrapped her long fleshy tongue around the cob
leaving slobbers on the boy’s hand.
But, he didn’t care; he loved her
                                                                —and she loved him.

The child watched the cows for many years.
Each day they would march to individual stalls.
Every year calves were born and nursed
and when they were grown, they were sold.

One year, Browny’s bag swelled up.
Her teats were hard and lumpy and it pained her to be milked.
Her calf had to be bottle-fed or starve.

The bus dropped the child off.
School had been fun,
but this was a sad day.

“Mom, where’s Browny?”

“Dad sold her.”

“Dad, you sold her?
You didn’t tell me you were going to sell her.
You waited until I was at school.
Why didn’t you tell me
                                                                —why’d you sell Browny.”

“I had to sell her.
I didn’t want to
                                                                —but she had mastitis.”

Danny sobbed.


A blind woman, named Truth,
thrust her hand into a galvanized 
bucket of maggots and laughed, 
because their movements tickled.

She fondled the slinking s-curve
of a hissing serpent and said,
“how incredibly sexy.”

She felt the glowing
stove top burner and thought
it looked very hot.

Then the most handsome man
in the hemisphere asked her
to read his chiseled face.

And when she touched him,
her hands quickly withdrew
because it hurt her so,
and her eye-less sockets
wept tears because
he was horribly ugly.

To the Girl in the Brown Corduroy Pants

A vernal rain which ushered freshness into
my life now leaves me completely
enveloped in the shadow of wintry darkness
listlessly descending upon me as
I struggle against the aching of a heart
emptied of wine filled instead with yellow bile.

And if you’d realized my jubilance of having first 
met the girl in the brown corduroy pants,
eventually you would have known
love like none has ever known love. Instead you left me 
in abysmal loneliness which beckoned me like the
ebony-cloaked figure of that bastard Death and his bony finger.

Ah yes, there were many things I wanted us to do,
many things I wanted to show you.
Especially, I wanted to destroy you 
and your wooden red Miss Scarlet token,
in the library with the candlestick—and you, 
in your brown corduroy pants, would admit defeat
to the prowess of my Professorial plum-purple token.
And I wanted us to catch on a moonless night
multicolored moths winging their way across an African veldt
even as we followed migrating gnu
lugubriously in the wake of watching crocodiles 
intent on maiming and killing and feasting upon
every last living wildebeest of the African veldt.

And I still miss you, and my heart still aches, and
my eyes keep vigil, ever watching,
ever searching for that Oregonian girl to return
like vernal rains, ushering in freshness
in her brown corduroy pants never
ever to leave me again!


spring  rains beckon
burgundy striped clown beetles
caked in hardened mud
standing statuesque, heads down
with uplifted abdomens

                …zoologists now believe that the zebra’s stripes are less a function of camouflage and serve more as a function of disorienting tabanid flies –inhibiting them from landing on and biting the zebra.

Hypnotic black, white—
piebald stripes.


the honeybee stings
eviscerating itself
protecting her hive
mother clinging to scissors
Father’s pugilistic fists

Lunar Eclipse
engorged blood orange moon
eroded by
Earth’s shadow

Now let's add some music.

Recently Randy Weston died, so I'd like to start with his "Blue Moses," featuring Pharaoh Sanders:

"The Healers" is from the same 1990s album:

I'll follow with his "In Memory Of," featuring the trombonist Melba Liston:

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Welcome to Colin Richard James!

Tonight I'd like to post some poems by Colin Richard James, a British-born poet who is new to The Song Is...


                            My friend Helen is in
                            the possession of such beauty
                            that the simple task
                            of entering a room
                            is fraught with anxiety
                            and trepidation.
                            She started wearing a Burka
                            but found herself being directed
                            towards any sofa where
                            the celebrities of the quiz show
                            'WHAT'S MY LINE' held forth.
                            Specifically Kitty Carlisle 
                            and the weekly Mystery Guest.
                            Questions like, "Are you in Show Business?" 
                            "Does the sun ever set on your tuckus?" 
                            "Are you the definitive of the modern pose?"
                            So she became a lesbian
                            not out of sexual preference,
                            but rather the joy of walking in Noho
                            amongst quiet confidants. She Has
                            also learned an effective verbal retort 
                            if propositioned by lewd thugs,
                            "I will if you shave your legs!"


                           Uncle Leonard is in the music room
                           listening to his rock and roll.
                           Mother is disappointed.
                           Expecting more involvement, inclusion
                           she asked him to make a salad.
                           Which he did, even used her two hanging 
                           baskets an earthy concoction indeed.  
                           Mother usually rues the compost heap.
                           Although the salad turned out quite
                           tasty, Leonard might be on to
                           something even more enticingly cool.


                                       The bird's call sounded
                                       like a bicycle bell,
                                       that and a computer breathing
                                       ending on the taught exhale.
                                       My guide always informative,
                                       hung her strapless binoculars on
                                       their belt clip a biodiversity present.
                                       We had discussed communicative 
                                       hand signals, hers simple
                                       economically less than seven.
                                       We began to crawl through some bushes
                                       she on three limbs, one hand
                                       for me directive and solemn.
                                       I followed attentive to everything
                                       rubbing a scratch thigh or higher,
                                       senses resolute denoted a clearing.

Colin James has a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from

Sagging Meniscus Press. He lives in link to SMP titles

Let's include some music, too, starting with some Freddie Hubbard.

Here is his "Skagly" from 1980:

"Happiness is Now" is from the same album:

The guitarist Gabor Szabo keeps popping up on my You Tube.  Here is his "Lady in the Moon":

I'll finish with his "Galatea's Guitar":