Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Welcome to Bruce Hodder

Photo by Tony the Tiger (Antonio Vernon) at English Wikipedia

This evening I'd like to take a trip to the UK (or perhaps England) with Bruce Hodder's poems.


We would always verbally abuse the Jets
when they walked into the Railway Club
on Thursday nights to watch the rock and roll.
“Wankers!” “Posers!” “Tossers!”
Every swear word we could think of
would come spewing from our teenage mouths.
It was because we turned invisible
to our girlfriends when the boys turned up.
Our scorn disguised our envy,
so we thought, of their great haircuts
and their clothes, the perfect Fifties cool
they had replicated in their rolling walks.
“Why don’t you go home to Northampton, twats!”
I shouted one night. I was drunk on beer
I had paid an older boy to buy me.
I was on my own, and there were three of them;
but I’d made sure they were out of earshot
and couldn’t hear. What I wanted really
was an autograph. I had a beer mat ready
in my pocket, but didn’t dare to take it out
when they came close, all I wasn’t.

Attribution: Louise Price


The old Ted’s favourite thing to do
in summertime is open all his windows,
and play his only Elvis record loud;
then he takes a beer downstairs to perch
on the wall outside our flats to smoke.
The old Ted’s second love’s complaining.
The one thing in the world that’s right is Elvis.
All the rest is wrong. “It’s fucked,”
he told me. “Kids rob old men with hammers.”
(Crime on our estate was up.)
“Know why?” 
                         “No, why?”
                                              “We let the coloureds in.”

Upstairs, Elvis stole the blues
from  black musicians’ breakfast tables
and sold it onto us as rock.

NB: Ted—Teddy Boy, 1950s rock and roll fans in the UK known for Edwardian frock coats and conservative political views.



 My father threatened
to divorce
my mum

if she brought
the new l.p.
by Ravi Shankar

“into my house”.

(O Mum,
one act
of bravery

one purchase
might have 
done it!)

A dislike
of Indian ragas
is ok

--though philistine—

but the use 
of “my”
in “my house”

was a warning.


Bruce Hodder is the editor of the New Beatnik, which is currently on sabbatical. He has been published in numerous magazines, online and in the anthology Other Voices (Crossroads Press).


Of course, I have to start with some Ravi Shankar.

Here he plays with his daughter in 1997.

This video is from the movie about the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967:

Let's listen to some Elvis.  We'll start with "Little Sister":
Here's some very early Elvis:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Few More by Will Mayo

This evening I'd like to post a few pieces that Will Mayo has sent me over time.  Enjoy!

You Never Know...


Will Mayo

Still, forty years ago, I had my palm read, lifeline and all, and the fortuneteller took one long look at my hand and said,

"This is something else," she said. "I haven't seen anything like this in a long time. And I've been in the business a good long while now."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Well, the way it breaks down," she said. "You could die young or you could die old but in between I see no action at all."

She paused. "If you could make it through the next few years I expect you'll be home free. But I worry about you just the same."

I paid my fee and left the tent, set on my way. And the years have passed, rough in their own way, I've come close to dying lots of times but I'm no longer a young man though not yet an old man albeit some kids might yet consider me old. The gods might smile on me yet. You just never know.




Will Mayo

There’s something about the night that gets in my blood, gets me going like no other time of the day can. It’s the fall of footsteps on a hardwood floor, creaky with age, of a soul trying vainly to wake up the dead (as if he could); it’s a night owl’s hoot at the passersby; it’s a lover’s sigh on a pillow left untended by time. And, oh, yes, it’s these, too: staying awake all night, cowering by a candle or a night lamp while held in suspense by the horror of a ghost story, told one last time; tossing and turning in a dream that transports one to a kingdom won and lost for the sake of a bride unencumbered by the serpent at the door; and, of course, waking up to a bleary-eyed dawn that only Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci could imagine in all its beauty. Damn it, I do love that night.




Will Mayo

Close by the grove of the mangrove swamp,
the hermit lives.
He tidies his little hut
with rake and broom,
and waits,
for there is no one to speak to;
only the jungle speaks.
It is made for a journeyer.
You can find him
in the muddy dawn;
gathering snakes
for his noonday meal.
In the evening,
he sings to the moon,
his shriveled body dressed in rags
arching forward
past the kudzu of his hut.
He has never known a woman,
never has he dared.
He searches only for the One
who walks in swampy night
and speaks in silence
during the day.
And never on knees,
does he pray.
Only in mud and clay
of daily toil,
does he find his God.
And he listens
for that which he cannot hear.

    For A Room At The Inn


Will Mayo

    Still I remember a moonlit night about 40 years ago in which, lost in a faraway town, I stopped in a police station and, catching sight of two officers on duty, I asked for a ride back to the local madhouse.

    "Do you want to take him?" one cop asked the other.

    "No, I don't want to take him," the other officer said. "Do you want to take him?"
    "Oh, all right. I'll take him," the first cop said.

    And, so, reluctantly, he gave me a ride to the hospital where, not knowing that I'd been gone, they debated for a while and then took me in.

    Finding a bed for myself, I laid my head back and rested for a spell. I was not yet 15 years old and still finding my way in the world. And it was just another one of those days...

    Picture In Front Of The Glass


    Will Mayo

    I like the slow time,
    The time that wavers in front of the glass.
    A moment spent
    Staring at the page of a good book
    Is like a month spent
    In interludes forgotten.
    A morning walk through the spring rain
    Bears to a year lost in thought,
    Time passing with no eye on the clock.
    And a slow wakening from dream
    Ticks time back into eons
    As the muse gently whispers in my ear
    And tells me of that which
    I thought I might not remember.
    And as I write these words
    I stare in front of the glass.
    It melts gently, so gently.

    On Making A Career Move


    Will Mayo

      Yet the penning of stories and poems wasn't always a vocation to which I occupied my waking hours. In college, for instance, I thought what a nice career move it might be to be a nude artist's model. Gee, what could be better, I thought? I'd just sit or stand there nude in various positions while all about me others would be doing the actual work - and yet I'd be the one getting paid for it! It seemed the sure thing to do.

      But when I got to the art professor's office (and long before there'd be any question of my disrobing), I panicked, hard to say why, maybe I thought that there'd be too strenuous labor involved (after all, it can be a pain to assume those positions for a prolonged time), and I uttered the quickest excuse I could think of to get me out of there fast. That is, I said:

      "Is this where I can find the college literary journal?"

      "Oh, no, no," she replied. "For that, you'd need to go to the English Department."

      And so, gathering my wits (and much else), I hurried off to the literary journal, ready to make good on my excuse. It seems I've been writing ever since.
    Let's play some Charles Mingus.  He is another musician born in the 1920s.

    "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is a good place to begin.  It sounds like night:

    I've been listening to his version of "Mood Indigo":

    This version of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" includes lyrics by Joni Mitchell as well as Jaco Pastorius' bass:

    "Girl of My Dreams" is an earlier piece, being from Mingus' first album (1959).

    I've heard "Fables of Faubus" a million times, but I didn't know that this was the song's title:

    I'll finish with his "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress Then Blue Silk":

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kerfe Roig's Masks and "Jaguar"

This evening I'd like to return with Kerfe Roig's images and words inspired by Mayan and Mexican jaguar (tigre) masks.  She states:

What's interesting to me is how first the Spanish tried to eliminate the native peoples, then they enslaved them, taking away their lands and outlawing their culture, then they sent priests to indoctrinate them into Catholicism.  And still.  The ancient beliefs and traditions subverted the imported religion and exists today in a synthesis of the old and new.  The persistence of masking and the spirits invoked in ritual and dance are evidence of the continuity and continued importance of indigenous culture in the life of Latin America.

jaguar/le tigre

tigre burn
jaguar of the night
mirrored eye
ancient hand
catching light molding liquid birth
from death the seedling

rising deep
rising high flaming
eyes see 
nothing and
everything falling and whose
invisible hands

strike cold fire
dying blaze melting
nourished by
whose blood water earth fire air
breath still beginning

the stars sing
the earth opens wide
fires darken
crossing over
air spirit matter merging

the sky sheds new tears 

I'd like to post some Mexican jazz.  The first link is to a video of Sacbe's "Aztlan":

Next is this group's "Andromeda":

How does this group sound live?

Itzam Cano is a jazz bassist from Mexico:

He is known for his work with Zero Point:

I'll finish with Remi Alvarez, a saxophonist.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Angelee Deodhar, Raveesh Varma, and Thomas Canull

Recently Angelee Deodhar took time to send me some of her collaborations with other authors as well as some of her own haiku.  I know that you will enjoy them.

For the first two pieces, her co-author is Raveesh Varma (whom you met back in February when you read their "Snow Angels."

The next co-author is Thomas Canull.

Haibun :The echo

A collaborative haibun by Thomas Canull (USA) and Angelee Deodhar(India)

new grass--
a sparrow and I
just playing
Mother's Day brings back fond memories of my grandmother whom I loved dearly as she and an aunt just 8 years old at the time raised me for at least the first year of my life. My birth mother rejected me at birth as she already had one child to care for. And no one on that side of the family would ever discuss it or tell me how long I was at grandmothers but she was always there for me as I grew up. Some summers I would to stay there for the summer and for me that was a taste of heaven.

night watch-
green hills flatten
on the monitor

Total number of words 123

Issa haiku 1808 from David  Lanoue’s site

Bio:Thomas Canull  worked for several years as an intel-op in the far and middle east. While in Japan he fell in love with  haiku. Several of his haiku have appeared in the Japanese online Asahi Haikuist Network.While in Arizona Thomas started posting a "Thought for the week" and a "Haiku for the week" at his neighborhood Starbucks. When he returned to Indiana ,he brought the idea back with him and has been posting at the same Starbucks for several years.

Thomas is also a Co-Founder of Hope 4 U Bracelet Ministries which is dedicated to uplifting of everyone he meets with a message of love and hope.

Below are Angelee's haiku sequences.

Haiku Sequence: Earthquake

as I brush by
the touch-me-not closes
- wedding night

her hennaed hands
between my brown ones
the scent of jasmine

lifting her veil
first glimpse of the moon
on her nose ring

tinkle of bangles
breaks the night silence
as we sink together

morning dip
her sari clings to her
my heartbeats quicken

earthquake –
petals torn from a tree
flutter in the wind

another earth tremor
in a street full of rubble
her glass bangles

Haiku Sequence: Ground Zero Revisited

breaking news
in the darkness
a tea cup shatters

flags aflutter
the still smoldering debris
- just another day

each passing hour
through broken windows
only the silence

memorial bouquets
the lilies beaten to stalks
in the downpour –

hand to hand
a flickering candle
this long night

a different landscape
through settling smoke
some more sky

During this unsettling time, I hope that these poets' work will speak to you.  Music also speaks to us.  Angelee chose these pieces.  The first is Chopin's Marche Funebre.

The second is Jean-Paul Verpeaux's Trauermarsch.

I think I will include Donal Fox's Improvisation on Bach:

Here he performs variations on Brahms:

I'll conclude with the Cannonball Adderley Quintet's performance of Joe Zawinul's Requiem for a Jazz Musician:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bryn Fortey and Holly Holt

The British jazz poet Bryn Fortey reminds us how many musicians were born in the 1920s. Above is a picture of some cigar box guitars, the instrument that the subject of Bryn's poem was known for playing.

(1928  -  2008)

Ellas McDaniel would have laughed
At being lumped with the jazzers
He thought himself a rock ‘n’ roller
An entertainer
The man who invented rap
And the psychedelic guitar
The baddest cat alive: Bo Diddley
Rock ‘n’ roll – certainly
R&B – yes
But rooted in the Blues
(And where would Jazz be without them)
With a nod to the field hollers
That preceded it all
Ellas McDaniel: the boy violinist
Who tuned a guitar like a fiddle
And grew up to be Bo Diddley

Bryn Fortey 

Nina Simone was not born in the 1920s, but recently I found a wonderful poem inspired by her "Blackbird." Holly Holt, the co-editor of Walking is Still Honest and the illustrator of Charles Clifford Brooks III's Athena Departs and The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Crawford, has written this poem.  

“betrayed by summer”

inspired by “Blackbird,” Nina Simone

you believed happiness
was the language
the birds spoke
in summer, where heat
mimicked the pulse
of memory
while your ears
gathered the silk
of silence over your soul

we were both born
in stardust, you and I,
but something lonely
crept into you
from the cradle:
an inability to chase
dreams and horizons,
to light candles,
to breathe hopes
and call them home

words, like a pebbled walkway
on days filled with rain,
have contradicted your peace
as the hushed sound of stone
underfoot—a heart’s beat,
sad, alone, and afraid,
muted by this hopeful season
every year, your search
involves only looking back

your beliefs bring the certainty
that happiness betrayed you,
the blackbird whose sad beauty
will never again grace the skies—
and summer can only move on

without you


I also want to add Holly's illustration of a haiku in Miriam Sagan and Michael G. Smith's sequence.  

Let's start off with the video of "Blackbird" that Holly sent me:

Nina Simone also sang "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "To Love Somebody" (among other songs):

Let's include some Bo Diddley, starting with "Hey Bo Diddley":

Here he plays "Who Do You Love" with Ron Wood:

Or you might prefer him with George Thorogood:

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Handel's Water Music

Recently Miriam Sagan and Michael G. Smith sent me their haiku sequence inspired by Handel's Water Music.  I am pleased to see more haiku and more classical music here--and more work by Miriam and a new-to-the Song Is... writer.

As the temperatures rise, the riverside is a good place to be!

background kettledrums
rolling riverrock
blood in the veins                                                                               

ordered garden beds
a baroque score
torn in spring wind                                                                              

tasting the last
of last years’ dried apples
the tree blooms                                                                                     

snowflakes falling
over my lettuce planting hopes
notes pour allegro                                                                                

a slow moment observed, lilacs opening without a minute hand         

edging off the eave, a raindrop takes its chance                                  

that long-gone cloud
left behind
a red rose                                                                                             

tea kettle whistling
water’s metamorphosis
like a recurring dream                                                                           

an escapee,
Inky the Octopus
finds the grail to the sea                                                                      

take my ashes
to the Pacific
they won’t dance alone                                                                        

Kew Gardens—
a lily pad big enough to
float a baby on                                                                                      

hot spring pool along
the Gila’s bank
howling dog                                                                                         

sutra says “like a lotus from muddy water”—me                                

foraging along
the sacred Bagmati
gods and pigs                                                                                       

a melody
as Chinese elm seeds
land as weeds                                                                                       

all air
Aquarius -
autumn rain predicted                                                                          

our dry river, a cascade
of feeling                                                                                              

Bowling Alley Rapids -
river otter makes
it look easy                                                                                           

a fountain
plays catch
with sunlight                                                                                         

my snowball floats - sutra says “water and ice are the same”              

sea level 
the cities of the future
at low tide                                                                                            

centuries of lake
ooze between
our boy toes                                                                                         

a fossil shell
now high on
Mt. Meru                                                                                              

Below is a link to a performance of Handel's Water Music on period instruments:

If you would like to listen to a performance on more contemporary instruments, see this link: