Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mark Antony Rossi and Will Mayo

This evening I would like to introduce Mark Antony Rossi and his poems inspired by music.  Of course, he is not a novice poet, but this is his first appearance at The Song Is...  Let's start with his poem "The Song Is."

The Song Is

The song is

mixed up shit

made to seem whole

but inspiration often arrives

at moments of desperation

and offspring are born

not by choice

but by love.


                                               Preaching to a Fine Guitar Player

                                                 Andy do not let the song
                                                to another player,
                                                another disposable package
                                                for public consumption.

                                                We deserve better.

                                                A long cigarette drag,
                                                a bowl of rice,
                                                barefoot on the floor
                                                baring your soul,
                                                unmasking meaning
                                                in a life opposed
                                                to daring
                                                and dreaming.

                                                Grant us more
                                                than godless machine,
                                                studios wiped clean
                                                of blue tears
                                                  smeared on strings;
                                                raw fingers
                                                amplifying truth
                                                out of a cold cave
                                                called Life.

                                                Andy do not let the song
                                                settle in the septic tank
                                                of lost talent,
                                                so much of this world
                                                is already flushed.

                                                You deserve better.

                    Short Poem for the Bluesmen

                    dark damp basement tavern
                    a wailing bluesman
                    in delightful homage
                    to women
                            of hard currency
                            and easy virtue.

                     deep copper-coloured whiskey
                     makes its home in hearts
                     of weary
                     troupe players
                      before performance;
                      found thirsty for affection,
                      an affection
                      an audience
                      one drink at a time.


                                                           Birth of an Artist

                                                            once a guitar lay silent
                                                           just as a cemetery,
                                                           a slab of ghost-free wood
                                                           used to warm bones.

                                                           until a man found fingers
                                                           undressing nylon strings
                                                           some lonely evening.

                                                           his fear was full-nelsoned
                                                           and radio trembled
                                                           at the thought of music
                                                           unable to sell light beer.

Mark Antony Rossi's poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review, Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages, Death Throes,  Ethical Spectacle, Gravel, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, Purple Patch, Scrivener Creative Review, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial ,Wild Quarterly and Yellow Chair Review.

Will Mayo's poems and flash fiction complement Mark Antony's pieces well while also taking us in a different direction.

Autumn Mill, 1998


Will Mayo

whiskey tastes good in the fall.

firewater runs down the throat,

with just the right medicinal flavor to boot.

arms move all akimbo;

mouth utters words it knows not.

days pass by amid the rustling leaves

and one man knows no slumber.

the nights, too, shall pass by

as the wild bird sings.

then time will sit in the glass

and be consumed

one by one.

The Song That Saved Our Lives
Will Mayo

I'll never forget that night at Cactus Flats. that country western bar up on Highway 15 outside of Frederick Md about 5 years ago. My father and I were seated there, two old school types among the bikers and the good old boys for one last beer before the time was done. Myself, however, I had had enough of the whole show. I'd drunk down the beer easy and quick-like, eager to be back to my books and the old fashioned computing machine. Some habits die hard, sad to say.

But my father held up his hand. "Wait a minute," he said.” There’s one last song to be sung before the night is done."

For it was karaoke night, time for the singalong with all good boys and girls out of tune. And one last singer remained, a young African American woman with no accompaniment, no microphone even. She stood up there in biker babe heaven as the light shined bright on her ebony face and she began to sing a sweet song of grace.

"Amazing grace," she sang. "How sweet thou art...to save a wretch like me..." And oh how well her voice filled the bar to the rafters. It was as if the angels themselves had descended from heaven for such a song.

All the bar sat in awe to hear this girl sing. Ahead in the distance, it was as if we could hear a chorus of cymbals, a mighty thunderclap from off of Cactoctin Mountain perhaps. And then she was done.

The bar was quiet for a mere handful of seconds before applause filled up the tavern and echoed down the road. I turned to my father and said, "Thanks. That was worth waiting for." "Sure thing," he replied. We headed to the car.

Not five minutes later, our little car headed out of the dusty roundabout and saw then an enormous pile of cars and trucks at the exit back onto the highway. Blinking lights and sirens lit up the night and we knew then that had we not stayed for that simple song of grace then we'd surely be at the bottom of that tumble of automotive hell. The young woman had saved our lives that summer evening. I never did learn her name.

 Given the theme of this entry, I'd like to focus on the guitar.  Let's start with Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress":

I saw that Metheny has covered "The Sound of Silence":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqzqoOLehik

Kenny Burrell takes a different approach with his version of "All Blues": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1ipftv39YU

Here is Wes Montgomery's version of "Round Midnight":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOm17yw__6U

Joe Pass performs "Joe's Blues" and discusses improvisation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQfjm1m9MEI

I'll finish with some Django Reinhardt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpmOTGungnA   He was born in 1910, which makes him fair game for the fall/winter contests!  (See this link for more information: http://thesongis.blogspot.com/2015/09/welcome-to-fallwinter-contests.html .)


  1. Cheers to Mark Anthony Rossi and Will Mayo.
    My favorite poem of Rossi's is Short Poem for the Bluesmen. The format compliments the context.
    Will's story about Amazing Grace really spoke to me.Grace saved your lives. Similarly, that same song was in my head when my hearing left me. It's still there. Thank you both for sharing.

  2. congratulations to mark anthony rossi.. i truly enjoyed your poetry..very inspiring...

  3. to my pen pal will mayo... your story of amzing grace totally overwhelmed me... i was reading and reading....amazing grce .. shall i say amazing will.. your poetry and writing skills are a true art... congratulations my friend
    looking forward to learn more
    ritamarie recine