Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chani Zwibel Enters the 1940s Contest

Painting by Tommy Tallstig

For many of us, music connects us with our older family members.  This is especially true of music from the 1960s.  Tonight I'm posting Chani Zwibel's wonderful poems about how music from the 1960s brought her and her father together.


Sometime in the forgotten, idyllic days of the mid 1990’s.
In the grey pickup truck with Dad. 
He turns up Jimi Hendrix.
 Notices I’m nodding my head with the music. 
“You like this song, Chani-Lynne?” 
Child-me says “Yeah, I do.” 
I like the fantasy world in this song-
it’s “All Along the Watchtower”,
 and the wailing guitar makes alive
 the innermost parts of my soul, 
a kind of fire-storm, 
wind a-light with a powerful orange wave.
Jimi Hendrix songs are a gift Dad bestows on me, 
simply by sharing this moment, 
memory more sacred than any material object.  
Later, Adult-me learns Bob Dylan wrote this song, 
but knows deep within,
 a place separate from where knowledge is merely the domain of the brain, 
a grey main street with facts and figures shop fronts,
the knowing-unknowing realm of the gut feels truth:
Jimi made this song,
 brought it from lyrics to the realm of music, 
Rock n’ roll hymn of highest praise,
Rock n’ roll high priest of deepest skill. 


My father’s glove box smells of tobacco. His pipe lives in there, carved wooden bowl packed with resinous herb.

My father’s tackle box smells of metal and salt. His bobbers live in there, tiny red and white plastic orbs, and his lures, sharp and shiny with neon green rubber worms to attract the fish. 

My father’s pickup truck is grey. He drives it to do heating and air repairs for little old ladies who pay him in complements and oranges. 

My father’s hair is black, with little patches of grey at the temples. He hides the receding hair line of curls under a ballcap, Harley Davidson logo black lined in orange bands.  

My father’s hands are dirty with oil and grease after work. He washes them in Dove soap, white bubbles foaming away the grime. 

My father’s face is scratchy with stubble, in the summer he shaves, in the winter the beard grows. He kisses my mom, sister, and I goodbye before he leaves for the day’s job. 

My father prefers the taste of his mother’s cooking, but my mother can cook, too. He eats hamburgers and smiles, says “dinner was good, dear.”
My father prefers the taste of beer to water. He downs brown bottles of Stoney’s and fills the recyclables containers. He’s a happy man and a happy drunk. He sings and laughs. 

My father listens to Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles. He loves those songs where guitar transports to another world, music made to lift above the mundane, music made to dance and forget yesterday and tomorrow, music made for the praise of this moment, eternal now.  

My father listens to me. We talk about what famous people we’d like to meet in Heaven, and we agree on Einstein. I never feel like he doesn’t hear me, even when I’m childish-babbling. He pats my shoulder, nods his head.   


There’s a room inside my soul with an altar to earth, where black loam and red clay lie mingled in a ceramic bowl. Garnets glitter on the low table all around it. It’s cool and dark inside the room, like a Pennsylvania summer dusk, blue light falling, chill seeping from the feet of mountains through the hollow, an ever-so-slightly damp ache in the bones.

Priestesses garbed in scarlet tend the altar, rake the earth in spiral patterns with their long nails.  

The earth room plays only Jimi Hendrix “Red House”, and I can sit upon a crimson divan, robed in velvet.  

I am riding a red mare next to the earth altar, mud on her hooves and mud on my slippers, gained treading the ground from whence we came. 

I am the wolf queen here, howling to summon my sisters, growling to protect my spacious den. 

The wolf queen shreds enemies with her sharp teeth, her muzzle vermillion stained with their blood. 

The room in my soul holds the earth, holds it like a palace hung with stalactites as chandeliers, and its wet walls shimmer with quartz and slick limestone. It is shaded, secluded, safe.

Often the wolf queen visits the room, and barks to call her pups to her. 

They snuggle against her warm fur, curled bodies taking nourishment from Mother. 

Her smile is secret fangs under a snout always searching the scents of cave for stranger, wary but secure in her underground lair.  

The following two poems are inspired by Jimi Hendrix's“Message from Nine to the Universe” and David Bowie'x “Starman”. 

In another dimension just next to ours, 
beyond the stars, 
exists a weird world 
that strange creatures populate, 
and here we’ll play.
Come to me upon the battlements, or seek my chamber door.
Vainglorious villains utter useless usury, 
a tiny cell in the tissue of organisms, 
sealed until further notice. 
Practice the unclear vision for Utopia. 
The totality of all existing things is harmony. 
You’ll find it under the stairs. 
You’ll find it rare and unlooked for. 
You’ll find it in transmitted messages. 
Star children merge your modern age into unraveled DNA. 
They give it unspeakable names. 
They want you to know it’s over. 
They sing about better future. 
Not ready for social change? 
Don’t mention it. 
Unlettered, unliberated, unleash your hoard. 
What is here today, is dust tomorrow. 
What stars burn now, live in your blood tomorrow. 
What unplumbed depths are feared this moment, become suburbia tomorrow. 
Coupling of unofficial visionaries brings unshakable unity. 
Give us your latest version of events.
We seek you, holy liars. 
Speak out, oh, wasted dreamers.
Unprecedented since the rise of ages,
Offer splendor,
Unloose higher learning.  

Stammer, stammer, 
shedding stalactites, 
sleeping next to stalagmites, 
deep in a cavern, 
hidden from the visitors, 
but cavity of cave 
a circle of open sky. 
We’ll not be stamped by the stalemate of our forebears. 
From our concealed location, 
let us give you the final report:
One outside the solar system, 
whose mode of existence is surprise
Hears rain drill staccato on the rock walls, 
Becomes the stark statuary of next generations’ gods,
Halts in hardness, 
But begins a whole people of dignity,  
Gazing fixedly at the bow of a new vessel.  

Art by Lady Orlando

Let's start with Jimi Hendrix's "Red House."  This is a live version from 1969:

Here is "All Along the Watchtower":

If you'd like to listen to a guitar only version of this song, here is a video from a 1970 concert in Atlanta:

Here is the Artur Dutkiewicz Trio's version of "Voodoo Child":

This is a live version of David Bowie's "Starman" from 1972:

The Matt Stevens Quintet covers "Sunday" here:

I'll finish with Bowie's"Blackstar":


1 comment:

  1. enjoyed the wordplay in this immensely. such superb poems!