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Anodes & Cathodes

February 3, 2017

Open your eyes and greet all the negative anodes

They’re coming for you, may as well decorate, Cathode

No place to run, turn on the oven and roll dough

Take a deep breath and welcome your enemies home

Water softens stone

 

Bow your curls to friend and foe alike

Keep pure your heart with the mindful over might

In the depth of your soul’s midnight

Carry them home

 

Walk on a wire, the trick is not to look up or down

Face toward the fire, allow all the sweat to bead your brow

Sing out and smile, the wordless song is free to all

Should they take aim, you can’t reach everyone, down you fall

Know that it’s not your fault

 

Bow your curls to friend and foe alike

Keep pure your heart with the mindful over might

In the depth of your soul’s midnight

Carry them home

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The Flame Before The Flies

January 27, 2017

Am I understood?

Am I cleaning clear?

Are you going to run?

Or stay right here?

I hope you’ve bested fear

Things are not as they appear

 

But how can you be sure?

I’ve heard this all before

Six million souls in dust

A flight of one turns eyes to skies and minds

To bend toward distant light

A gilded path of lies

The flame before the flies

 

The foot that feels the ground

Belongs to armored proud

But not a shield does make

All ashes in the wake

As the sighing passed for sound

The world still spun its round

The shovels ever quaked

The earth was forced to break

 

March your feeble foot

Wrapped in Turin’s shroud

Let your hate ignite

And carry forth a solitary light

Through shadow, fog and night

You’ll make the hollow proud

Not question why endowed

 

The foot that feels the ground

Belongs to armored proud

But not a shield does make

All ashes in the wake

As the sighing passed for sound

The world still spun its round

The shovels ever quaked

The earth was forced to break

 

Pack in the railroad cars

See the snow through the bars

Mother and family

Yeah, they’ll be alright

Working will set you free

Chimney smoke slavery

Draw back your quivering bow

Cross violin strings

Response to my mother’s email, “How was Glen Campbell?”

February 24, 2012
It was simultaneously beautiful and awful. He is far more along in the disease than I, or most people, expected. It was very emotional to watch. He looked, and for the most part sounded fantastic, but they had to keep space between songs very short because if he tried to talk, banter, tell stories, he couldn’t get them out correctly nor follow them to conclusion. Being an entertainer, he rolled with the punches very well, but he was clearly confused, although never frustrated or embarrassed.
 
Musically, there were teleprompters all along the stage, but he still got some words mixed up here and there. His voice was still really good and strong, though. Again, he rolled with it. The most interesting thing was when he would play guitar – he could still take these elaborate, intricate, fast guitar solos, much of it improvised, when he wanted. The memory for guitar was amazing to see and I think amazed the audience most. When he wasn’t dealing with words, he gave the impression that no matter how bad the disease gets, he’ll be able to play giutar.
 
His band included 3 of his children, which was also equally sweet and sad (they all seemed to be late 20’s early 30’s). They opened the show and were featured at certain parts. They helped to express what this means to Glen and their family. I’m sure his daughter will be a star in her own right. She was gorgeous and played banjo amazingly and sang well, too. 
 
All in all, it was heavy, but something I’m glad I saw (and am sure I’ll never see again). The audience was appreciative and respectful, not patronizing. It was also full of press people and Boston muckamucks. My seats were incredible. Needlesstosay, Randi and I both needed a drink immediately afterwards. It had you on edge the entire time because you didn’t know how or what he was going to do and you could see everyone and himself really trying their best to keep it smooth.
 
I can’t believe how courageous this guy is. Everyone appreciated the unique effort for something like this and he really did sound great. To be human, and all the strange things we have to deal with, is such a scary and mysterious thing.
 
mwp   

The Amusement Park

June 25, 2011

I live directly behind an old amusement park. It is still a fully functioning amusement park, but old in the classic sense of Ferris wheels, friend dough, balloons, knocking down milk bottles… It always seemed a sad twist of fate that I was to be born and raised in this spot. I am an only child and this is the house that was my grandparent’s before my grandfather died of lung cancer when I was five and my grandmother was taken to a nursing home shortly thereafter. The doctors diagnosed her with some form of dementia that left her with unusually rosy cheeks and a permanent, glassy smile. There was a vacancy and yet childlike sparkle in her eyes and they found their way in my memory to the same spot where all the smiling faces at the amusement park lived.

For the last ten years of my grandfather’s life, he operated the tilt-a-whirl. He had been a welder at a local machine shop for nearly forty years upon returning from a brief and uneventful stint in France during World War II. He was an excellent welder and was responsible for all of the latticed steel trash cans around the town, in addition to countless other things that nobody noticed. He knew many of the lifers at the park and was welcomed in with an easy job to fill his remaining days. It was perfect for him – he sat on a stool all day, could smoke as much as he liked and walked through a small portion of the chain-link fence at the south end of the park to spend his half-hour lunch break at home, most often forgoing anything to eat to sit in the bathroom for the entire thirty minutes. He came from a different time. He was happy to have a home, happy to have a job and never once cursed this life that landed him directly behind an amusement park.

It is strange when you grow up next to something that is such a “special occasion” venue for most folks. Like any child, when I was young I was enamored by the lights, sounds and prizes. Walking through with my grandfather was the widest my eyes would ever get. I believe my parents saw the park as a nuisance and a brightly lit, loud, circular metaphor that they were stuck in a life that seemed to merely echo their parent’s. Perhaps on some deeper level, the park served to constantly remind them of fleeting happiness, paying for smiles and the mechanized performance of it all, but that is only my inference. But while my grandfather was still around, I saw the park as mainly two things – a giant nightlight that I could look at out my window in the summer months and feel a calming, omnipresent watchfulness, and a place to watch my grandfather as a member of the old guard in town. I could almost see him and all his friends still as teenagers.

When my grandfather died, I didn’t go to the park for the next three summers and was generally angry when it would start up and happy when it would close down. All of my cycles of grief were directed at and through the amusement park, with most of it settling in an existential stalemate of “what’s the point of it all” as I glared at the screaming kids from my judging distance beyond the fence. I cursed the way the park never changed and how my family never changed and how I feared that I would never change. But by the time I was 8, I had all but exhausted my frustrations that the park had come to embody and attended a friend’s birthday party there. Although I was a bit quiet in the beginning, I had a good time.

The summer I turned thirteen I was ordered to get job, but the wages I earned were mine to keep. I figured the park was my easiest option, as I could walk there, it was seasonal and they seemed to have no qualms about hiring young kids. Although it had only been a few years, there seemed to be no one left from my grandfather’s clique and the park had a very subtle undercurrent of adolescent sexual tension that was enough to keep me coming back. My first summer was spent doing any number of jobs – running errands for the office staff, cleaning the bathrooms, literally shoveling shit from the horses of the mounted police and manning the lost and found. The lost and found was my least favorite of my duties, as the endless stream of tear-stained faces and distraught children and parents was brutal. Most often the cases of theft, the cynicism of years before (and soon to follow) was not within me, and I took no pleasure in seeing an anticipated day of pure fun destroyed. I am not sure if I began to become desensitized to it by the end of the summer, but by the final couple of weeks, I had seen it all and had submitted to my helplessness.

I made a few friends that summer, but they were all a couple of years older than me, which seemed like a decade within that delicate span of years. I knew that if I was caught smoking I would be fired, but by late August with the nights growing cooler and the nervous anticipation of school drawing in, a few of us would gather by that southern fence and smoke cheap cigarettes under the bright white moon that pulled close to 11pm. My best friend was a fifteen-year old named Dustin. He lived about fifteen minutes from the park and rode his dirtbike to work. Dustin lived right next to the train tracks, and I felt that gave us a spiritual connection in that we lived not only next to a noisy distraction, but also a thing that brought a constant ebb and flow of people passing through life in our midst. I thought he was a good looking kid with short, oily black hair and a face that always looked like an even mixture of tanned from the sun, sandblasted with dirt from his bike and tobacco-stained from growing up in a small house full of chain smokers. He had a cool name and the girls seemed to like him, although he seemed to act a little younger than his age.

I almost had a girlfriend that summer, too. Again, the girls were older, but they really seemed to gravitate towards the safe sweetness of a boy on the cusp of puberty as opposed to a young wolf on the hunt. They liked to balance the danger of dabbling with the wolves in the evening and confiding with the lamb in the day time. It didn’t stop me from developing an enormous crush on a particularly nurturing soul named Amber. She had dirty blond hair that matched a voice that sounded as though it had been gently roughed up with a light gauge sand paper. She was probably embarrassed by the size of her breasts, and the attention they commanded, but they were the most amazing things I had ever seen and had me to work right on time every day.

Developing that unique infatuation only special to summers, by mid-August we both felt, but never spoke of, that we may actually be falling in love. It all built perfectly to one night at a party in the woods where we made out in the shadows just beyond the firelight. She was a little drunk and I was nervous, yet newly confident enough to not let the moment slip away. Part of me knew that she was doing it to be nice, but I also knew that she really wanted to, even though typical teenage social parameters (age) would never allow us to be an item come school. The following Monday at work, she made sure to take me aside and clarify a bit about our kiss. I understood and things for the remainder of the season were strictly cordial and a little awkward. I should have been frustrated, but I liked her too much. She awakened something in me and there can only be one person like that in your life.

I continued to work at the park for the next four summers in between my high school years, including the one following my narrow graduation. Every season brought a new group of friends and romances, boredom and amusement, provided mainly by those seeking amusement. An endless stream of helium balloons accidentally let loose, or forgotten, into the air. I would watch every one drift and dance sadly into the cloudless sky. It seemed that there were never any clouds when these balloons cascaded into my line of vision, so I was forced to watch their entire journey up into another world that would eventually crush them. Too far away to witness their ultimate demise, it was implicitly understood once they left our limited vision.

It saddened me to watch these objects forced, strictly by their nature, into an atmosphere that could no longer support them. I rooted for each and every one to be caught by a fortunate breeze to land far away in the hand of another child, but I knew this would never be the case. Such realizations frustrated me and left me to submit to life’s cruelty. I would wonder, “If I had a gun, would I have the guts to shoot the balloon and put it out of its misery?” But I do not think I could, on the off, one-in-a-million chance that it would survive its ascension. And finally, there is the fact that the balloon is unaware of the certain doom it faces and merely moves along as its existence dictates. In that sense, the balloon is no different from anyone around me – we are all slowly pulled towards something and ultimately unaware of how or when this will all end. These ruminations would carry me for hours as I unknowingly pushed the same half-dollar sized red and green buttons of the tilt-a-whirl that my grandfather had.

Spaghetti on Thanksgiving

November 30, 2010

Every time I get a leg up, someone’s taking off my shoe

And if I keep on trying, they’ll take my socks off, too

I ain’t looking for a hand out, hand up or a high five

Just fighting to keep my head up, cause the water will always rise – always rise…

 

I eat spaghetti on Thanksgiving

Christmas from a can

Whiskey for my birthday

Peanut butter and jam

 

Two gallons worth of gas

Better avoid the tolls

But the only free alternative

Is the street with all the holes

 

Any time that I breathe easy, for a week I’m in the black

Something goes and knocks my wind out and I’m flat out on my back

I’m wondering about this freedom, cause I feel like house arrest

With parking tickets, doctor bills, insurance and all the rest – all the rest…

 

I eat spaghetti on Thanksgiving

Christmas from a can

Whiskey for my birthday

Peanut butter and jam

 

Two gallons worth of gas

Better avoid the tolls

But the only free alternative

Is the street with all the holes

 

I must have some sort of collar, round my ankle that I can’t see

So any time I get some money, it sends off a silent scream

Then the bills start appearing, my mailbox is like a goose

Stuffed with disappointment, feeling like a noose – like a noose…

 

I eat spaghetti on Thanksgiving

Christmas from a can

Whiskey for my birthday

Peanut butter and jam

 

Two gallons worth of gas

Better avoid the tolls

But the only free alternative

Is the street with all the holes

 

All the holes…

The Time Traveler’s Blues

October 13, 2010

Part 1

The funny thing about time traveling is the amazing adaptive powers of the human. Movies most often portray the transplant as wildly confused. When and if the person is able to fit into society unnoticed, it is a very long and exaggerated process. I have not had much of these periods of utter confusion and helplessness. My symptoms have always been a low, constant feeling of sadness and longing. These isolating emotions serve as a reminder that I may never be one hundred-percent comfortable.

Despite being diagnosed with chronic depression, I have always resisted medication because I know that the power to master this pervasive, dark blanket of melancholy is within my ability. I know now that this faint flicker of optimism is the same spark that burns in all the characters we have come to know in this predicament – the belief that we will one day return home. The sadness and hopelessness that follows is the constant reminder that we have spent another day getting further away from our home and loved ones.

How do I know that I am a stranded time traveler? The signs are everywhere. Do you know when you are wandering through a thrift store, junk shop or antique store and some piece catches your attention? You’re not sure why, but it reminds you of something. You look at it, pick it up, turn it over, look at the price, give a half smile, put it back down and walk away. When this happens to me, there is an immediate flood of remembrance. Staring almost through the object, I can see the house where it came from, I can feel the life that surrounded it, I remember the dinners that were cooked in the house, I can smell it, and I can see all the other objects that occupied the room where this item absorbed so much energy. I can stare and float in the ocean of those memories for hours.

Favorite foods? Not ours. They are reminders of another life, another time, another place. The taste, while wonderful and satisfying, is satisfying your brain more than anything else. You are momentarily at peace, comforted in a gauzy wash of hinted memories. Your wandering stops for a split second, your questions are answered. And then you swallow, the moment quickly fades, you open your eyes, and you are once again confused, off-balance, and then resigned and aware.

Objects and senses most often trigger these past memories, not living people. Those with whom we interact are mostly of this time. Perhaps the special bond that we make with a select few is the cyclical friendship that has existed since, well, existence. The friends and spouses with whom we have a deep, unchallenged bond are the same friendship (in spirit) that has continued on throughout time. The energy of a true partnership can transcend death in that it finds its way into other people, and more powerfully than that, these people continue to find each other.

As for passing another time-traveler on the street and sharing a knowing nod, it unfortunately does not happen. Most travelers are not aware of their specific predicament and hold it under the umbrella of general unease, unrest and depression. The realization of the true root of their isolation, if it ever comes, offers little solace, but rather an understanding and resignation. The chances of returning to any particular time are not within your lifetime, but rather it is lifetime after lifetime, bouncing from one time to another, leading to utter weariness and despair. As comforting as it may be to know that energies, feelings, emotions, experiences, and even entire lives can be passed on, or dispersed and distributed, it becomes a heavy burden when attempting to navigate one’s own position in their current time. It is all someone else more powerful than us that got this whole ball rolling. Is it possible that we will make our own contributions to this ever-growing ball of twine? Of course, it is inevitable, but the majority of our time will still be under the yoke of emotions and experiences of lives past.

Part 2

I am sad and alone and confused. The horror of what people can do to each other affects me deeply and drives me further towards yearning to be free of this life. There are people that I am sure I have known from lives past, but my isolation and restlessness prevents me from giving myself fully back to them. Of all the emotions and experiences I have had throughout these hundreds of years, the feeling that has stuck with me the most is loss.

The deep, all-consuming sorrow of the loss of a loved one transcends all time and space and has no means of dissolution or dispersion. With every waking moment as a child, to every object that sends me traveling, there has always been an over-bearing feeling of loss. There are times where the loss is manifested in the sadness over a simpler time that is now gone, a homelife before young adulthood took us from the nest, but the loss that hangs the heaviest is a lost love.

Losing your one true love changes you irrevocably. It mutates the human spirit. The body becomes burdened by sorrow and the energy that the brain emits must at least double. The questions, frustrations and inevitability of death will now forever come to define this person. Like most mutations, this will be passed on from generation to generation, or rather, life to life. Forever set upon the unquenchable desire to find this person in the next life, all future lives are spent searching, longing, saddened and unfulfilled, yet the time traveler bears the burden of not fully knowing why these emotions dictate their being. This ignorance adds frustration, confusion and at times, self loathing, to an already heavy load.

But many time travelers are people who come to be defined as great in their time and beyond.  Although burdened by their emotions, these people have a sense that they are different, timeless and therefore may posses a wider-ranging knowledge and desire to help mankind. Many, if not all, of our great leaders, artists, musicians and writers, work from a place of deep sorrow, but also a super-natural awareness that they posses the ability to make this life better for others, even if it will grant them little peace for themselves. There is an understanding that their own happiness is fleeting, for they carry the entire emotional lives of so many, and therefore, time may be best spent using this deeper knowledge to ease and improve the lives of others.

The greatest compliment for a songwriter is that a song feels “familiar,” as if it has always existed and was waiting for someone to grab it from the sky. These writers, while adept at receiving and interpreting the waves from the past, are merely time travelers. The familiarity of a musical piece comes from the hundreds, at times thousands, of years of human interaction and study by the writer. The entire range of emotional and personal contact has been explored in countless ways in countless settings. There is a weariness and understanding that so much of being human is timeless and cyclical. The talent of the writer lies in their ability to harness these deeply human sentiments and present them in a way that speaks to all people. Apart from the specific meaning or bend of the song, the ultimate message is that we are all the same and we have all been here before. These ideas are comforting, particularly to the majority of people who are new to this time and have only begun to hear the distant, cosmic rumbles that there is something strange beyond the surface of merely being human.

The searching of the time traveler is endless. Their life is a strange octopus’ garden of bric-a-brac speaking to something deep and distant. There is the constant pursuit of love, happiness and fulfillment, but it is checked daily with the futility of achieving such things, which has been revealed lifetime over lifetime. Some travelers do find their lost loved one. Some don’t realize or recognize them when they have them. And others are too damaged to even accept the possibility that this person is out there and waiting to be found. It is the duty of the time traveler to manage their burden, which in exchange can also be a gift by using their experience to help others. It is a sad fact that we must often ignore our personal desires, and this reluctant sacrifice most likely perpetuates the intense energies and emotions that keep the time traveler trapped in this cycle of regeneration, but there can be comfort in the fact that we will all be time travelers one day. And at the moment when the final time-traveling child is born, thus closing the door on all “new” lives, we will all finally recognize one another and our pain, and work together to be free.

Boston Accents

October 12, 2010

I do not have a Boston accent. I grew up in the suburbs. Only about a 30-minute drive from the city, and also connected by Commuter Rail, there are no accents in Concord. Concord is a very diverse town. I went to school with a mixture of all races and religions – some lived in town and some took the long rush-hour bus rides in as part of the Metco program, and no one had an accent.

 

I had an excuse, as my parents were natives of Maine. If there was any accent that found its way into my speech pattern in my younger days, it was the strange mutated progeny of Old New England, French Canadian and a slow Mountain drawl that is the Maine accent. Even this affectation, often exaggerated by my father’s brothers out of some sort of strange pride and stranger amusement, was called upon at will and usually left only for play. And although most inhabitants of Concord were transplants of some sort, even the natives, and by that I mean the uber-white folks, seemed to have no trace of a Boston accent. It was eerie. All of the children of the surrounding towns had some form of a Boston accent, yet not this anomaly that is Concord.

 

The accent seemed to signify something more working class, something a bit rougher around the edges, and people who moved to Concord with one, usually lost them in less than a year. Playing hockey without a Boston accent was like wearing a sandwich board stating that you could afford new equipment and you were a prime target to be ostracized and assumed to be weak. Unfortunately, at least in my case, that often proved true when singled out for a fight or constant ridicule. The accent became all the more foreign to me and would instill an “other” feeling that I’m sure my neutral speech reciprocated.

 

I always loved this city and would take the train in from age twelve on. I felt a closer connection to Cambridge and Boston than any of its suburbs, affluent or not. Other towns came to represent fights and defending oneself for being defined by where you were raised. The city is for all to enjoy, and traveling in from the suburbs, it is an explosion of culture, people and activities that is nothing short of magic. The familiarity of the historical and colonial elements bind this entire state together and deepens ones pride and understanding of the area. Yet spending my first years as a full-time resident of the city, first in Porter Square, Cambridge, for a few years, followed by Chinatown, the Boston accent still seemed to escape me.

 

In Porter Square, I feel safe in surmising that the lack of accents is very similar to what contributes to this phenomenon in Concord. There are a large number of transplants in Porter, particularly from the suburbs. It is a safer area, with good access to all of the colleges and universities, so many of the inhabitants seem to be students or young professionals. The remaining folks in the area appear to be free from the accent, perhaps because of the scrappy, working-class stigma that it holds, which is in direct defiance of what Cambridge has come to represent over the last two hundred years – education, success and influence? This is merely a theory.

 

Chinatown was just madness. Obviously, there is a very high Asian population there, but there is just so much general coming-and-going and noise, that the strongest identity I can give it is just a cluster of hard working folks (restauranteurs, delivery drivers, pimps, prostitutes, business men, cabs, bike messengers, lovers, muggers and thieves). The only Boston accents I heard, save the construction worker or bar tender, were from the clubbing kids from Quincy who would search the streets in large groups looking for cold tea spots. The flashes of drawn-out A’s as AH’s, would catch my ears and I would feel like I was back on the ice in Woburn or Chelmsford.

 

It was around this time that I became very familiar with the South Shore. First, I met a girl living in the city who was a native of Rockland and we embarked on a nine-year relationship. After about a year, I met her family and she began to take me around to her childhood haunts in the surrounding towns of Whitman, Hanson and Abington. Family and friends are king in Rockland, the sort of town where everyone knows your name, your family and what you’ve been up to. Countless cookouts and holidays were spent with the neighbors and their ever-growing families. I once again felt self-conscious about my neutral speech, and even more so when I revealed that I hailed from the upper-middle class Northwest suburb of Concord. Yet, I was always made to feel welcome and I realized that my insecurities, while not wholly unfounded, were more brought on by myself. Through the acceptance of this largely Irish population, most of whom were at least second generation Rockland residents, I began to enjoy the sense of community that had often escaped me in the protective, at times judging, environs of Concord.

 

Shortly after we began dating, I started a band with a good friend from Brockton. He, too, also had roots in Whitman, and my knowledge of the area continued to grow. My mother’s family lived in Brockton for many years. My great grandmother was from Chelsea and my great grandfather was from Roxbury. My grandfather was raised in Roxbury and he had a true Horatio Alger story upbringing (as Alger was from Chelsea, the pun is unintentional yet relevant). Fatherless by age nine with a younger brother and a mother who was a piano teacher and seamstress, he worked his way through extreme poverty and into Harvard. He met my grandmother (from Brookline) and moved to Brockton to try his hand at the shoe business. After many years of failed attempts, he found success in Portland, ME and moved the family up there when my mother was eight. Both his and my grandmother’s accents were very New England, in your tomato-tomahto sense, and that would be the closest to an accent that my mother has. My father, being a second generation Mainer, at times reveals particular aspects of the Maine accent.

 

For the next six years I lived in Roslindale. With its easy access to the South Shore, the Boston accent continued its growing presence in my life as it changed shape and began to reveal itself to me as a very powerful, unifying, family-driven force. After a one-year stint in Brighton, I found myself in Chelsea, where I had already been visiting for years. I spent my first year in Chelsea digging up clues from my ancestral past, unearthing Pinansky’s and Wolfson’s, Stones, Kleins, Friedmans, and many other Jewish immigrant roots that first planted themselves in Boston. My accent holds no weight in Chelsea, because whatever thin strands still tie me to this place, English is not the predominant language here, nor are the Jews, Italians or Irish who first built up this city.

 

I have learned what I can about Chelsea for now and have been exploring, learning and welcomed in to the surrounding areas of East Boston, Charlestown, Everett and Revere. The accents are strong in these areas, and the sense of community powerful and beautiful. Despite its close proximity to Boston, there is a very suburban, family feel to many of these areas. The accent here seems to be a signifier, not necessarily a badge of honor as the “Boston Noir” continues to take make Hollywood millions of dollars, but simply one of family pride that happens to be rooted to a particular location.

 

Within the last year there has been a shift in my speech pattern. There are now parts of the Boston accent that have been surfacing. Most interesting to me is that the occasional word that presents itself from my lips in the traditional Boston manner appears to be when I am in my most uninhibited – either while singing, lost in song, or when I have a had a few drinks. It is not so natural an occurrence that I am unaware, but it is out of my mouth before I realize it. This is not something that I am trying to fight, but it is something that I am conscious of, because the Boston accent is a matter of pride and heritage.

 

I respect the accent and do not seek to appropriate it for any points within the community. I am aware of my varied roots, yet this is where I am now. No speech comes effortlessly to me at this point. Neutral patterns feel like too much gum in my mouth – I chew my words and am heedful about how they are going to leave it. After constant exposure for the last ten years, I feel the accent fighting to be my dominant speech pattern. I do not resist it because I am afraid of the hard-working, brawling stigma that it holds, I resist it because I do not want to be insulting or counterfeit to the accented who take pride in their towns and families. I respect my family as much as I respect my city, and this best represents the current struggle that is embodied by my speech. But like the hard work and determination that made Boston great, the accent is proving to be far stronger than this kid from Concord, as it fights everyday to make itself heard.

 

Car and Driver

June 23, 2010

Here’s another one of those rhyming whinings. Vroom.

I’ve been spinning my wheels so long

There’s no tread left on the tires

When the weather goes from good to bad

It’s not safe for other drivers

I skid and slide all over the road

I howl when I make a turn

My struts creek under heavy loads

And the rubber starts to burn

My windshield is always foggy

I never quite defrost

My clothes are always filled with smoke

I blame it on the exhaust

I’m slow to start cold mornings

My engine’s been known to choke

My gasoline should always be premium

Unless, ofcourse, I’m broke

I don’t know a thing about cars

But I think this is making sense

I’m starting to feel the miles

Paint is peeling from the dents

Don’t think I’ll get traded in

Cause I was never worth that much

Probably just get left behind

Or driven into the dust

But I hope that some young lady

Or kid with fire inside

Hops into the driver’s seat

To take me out for one last ride

I’ll fill you full of stories

Make you laugh and make you cry

And tell you about all my false starts

But how important it is to try

So that’s how I hope to end

With some young blood in my veins

To know that I did some small part

To help someone on their way

And I hope they make some moments

On the road and with these songs

And I hope you got someone in the passenger seat

To help you sing along

———————————–

Memory Lame

June 21, 2010

Every now and then I will have a little musing that lends itself to rhythm and rhyme. Sort of a Shel Silverstein-esque bit of verse, or perhaps something Bilbo would chant to young Frodo – happy in what he deems to be a clever way to teach a simple life lesson. I find these pieces to be too direct and simple at times to lend themselves to music and certainly more so to call them poetry. Nonetheless, I find them entertaining and mildly thought-provoking. Here’s an example. This one woke me up yesterday morning and spilled out onto the page before I could even get out of bed.

Walking down Memory Lane

Flashlight in my hand

Paths here of murky pitch

A stained and broken land

Sometimes like a nightmare

Sometimes soft and sad

In every other window

A good time I once had

Friends along the benches

Cats between my feet

Sex on the front porch

Bands upon the street

Think I saw my Grandpa

In his big old Cadillac

Saw one too many ladies

Begging to come back

Smoking cigarettes

Stolen packs of Kools

That’s me off in the bushes

Skipping out on school

Lane grows a little lighter

The longer that I walk

The hardest parts to talk about

Are the first houses on the block

And if you find your way

This place gets pretty nice

The folks are really friendly

The houses full of life

It’s funny how we do that

Keep the bad up in the front

You forget what sits behind

When it’s cluttered up with junk

And now I’m at the end

A sign points for one way

This is the city limit

That brings me to today

I think when I return

I’ll come in through the back

And sit awhile within the light

Before heading toward the black

I know they’ll always be there

Brooding, doing time

I’ll do my best to free them

From the ghetto of my mind

Catnap

May 7, 2010

Being recently unemployed, I have been awarded with the gift of time. Time to sit at my desk staring at a computer caught in a dizzying cycle of Word, Facebook, and email, only to turn slightly to my left to grab an acoustic guitar and write something new or continue on a particularly wiggly song that does not want to be wrangled in by the likes of me. As I face my desk, to the left is a standing lamp, a large brown plaid-tweed 1970’s chair complete with ottoman (my especially favorite piece of furniture) and a Woodsy the Owl stuffed animal (who is constantly reminding me not to pollute), my bed (simple and soft, with blankets of ivory and brown, big enough for two, but probably not for three – never tried it), my night table containing a clock radio I was given when I was 12 which now serves as merely a clock and an excellent place for stacking books, a small globe-like lamp with a dimmer switch, and a large window with a seat of sorts that looks out into the crumbling beauty and deafening cacophony of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Although I angle my computer slightly to the right, so as to keep a peripheral watch on my door which I always leave slightly open, my majority of movements are to the left. I focus forward when writing lyrics, which I do on legal pads, and for scheduling and booking, as I keep large pages of the calendar months strewn about my desk – constantly shuffled and misplaced and ever growing fuller. As mentioned earlier, I most often turn to the left to pick up my guitar, which I keep on a stand between the desk and the chair. This motion is repeated 10-15 times a day throughout a 10-12 hour span and has provided me constant glances of Hank, my cat, most peacefully asleep on the bed.

I had no idea how much this cat could sleep. It is awesome. With every slight shift to the side I am immediately drawn to this bloated pot roast, covered in dusty black fur. Usually splayed to air out his belly, which resembles the balding head of an 80 year-old man (with eight nipples, at last count), Hank’s accompanying snoring is an exact impression of air whining out through the stretched lips of a balloon. He is my hero. His sleep is only interrupted for very economical trips to the water dish, food bowl and litter box. Sleepy and content, he quickly falls back into one of his resplendent poses, as litter gently falls from his toes and into the sheets.

I imagine Hank as possessing the qualities of the corpulent French and British kings of old – remarkably charming, quite handsome and athletic in their younger days, but now fat, gay, extremely hungry and very sleepy. There is something regal about this cat. His confidence astounds as he merely lifts a sleepy eye to see which point in time he has awoken to now, not caring that he is no longer in heavy velvet robes, turgid from a banquet feast, but instead naked in 21st century Massachusetts, catching a nice breeze carried aloft by sirens, staring at a semi-naked, rather hairy man hunched over a keyboard. He contentedly drifts back to sleep while stretched along creamy sheets of a particularly high thread-count given this follicly-rampant man’s lack of income.

Hank is the king. I often find myself in awkward social situations, feeling outnumbered or just unconfident, and I have to think, “What would Hank do?” In that moment, a wave of cool washes over me as if Arthur Fonzurelli just remembered that he had his jacket with him the whole time, he casually slips it on and becomes, “The Fonz.” I head straight for the food table and am not bashful about trying whatever looks good, and maybe sniffing or nibbling at whatever looks suspicious. I begin to circle around unsuspecting lady’s legs and before I know it, they are stroking my hair and telling me that I’m such a gooooood boy. Gladly, eyes closed, I accept such attention until I become bored or restless and without warning set off for a nice comfortable place to curl up for awhile. When I awake, I repeat the process – food, attention, rest. This method works pretty well unless Hank shows up at the same party and then I just hope that he talks to me.

But these days Hank is happy to just relax and dream and visit all the lives he has lived. Never before have I had the opportunity to witness how he spends his days, and the look of bliss upon his face allows me to enjoy this with him. I guess I would place Hank as a combination Henry VIII, The Fonz and The Dude – regal, large, cool and lazy. I wonder if he thinks I’m cool, too, other than the fact that I clean his litter box and let him eat from my plate, drink from my cup, and seduce my lady friends. I think, like The Dude, Hank is taking it easy for the rest of us while we try to “achieve.” So every time I turn to the left and see this charming, sleeping beauty, like an engorged Brando of the 80’s, I think to myself that right there truly is one cool cat.

I’m sorry, did I wake you?