An essay on change, stars, and rock ’n’ roll saints
The Dream: The 1980s version of the rock band Jefferson Starship had reunited and were performing “Sorry Me, Sorry You,” a song from their 1984 album Nuclear Furniture. They appeared to be rehearsing for a music video or concert, though no one else was around.
The band’s leader, Paul Kantner, had died, but the other members of that era — vocalists Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas, lead guitarist Craig Chaquico, bass and keyboard alternates David Freiberg and Pete Sears, and drummer Donny Baldwin — were all present and looking much like they did in the ’80s. …
A Poem for these Times
I grew up in the middle of the Midwest
Where football is perfection
And working on cars is what men did,
Where we read books about people on the coasts
And in other lands who lived their dreams
And became their dreams and created dreams
I live in the middle of the Midwest
Where we look down on people who live on the coasts
And in urban areas, where people who trill their r’s are exotic
And people with dark skin know their place
And God meant marriage for a man and a…
On Expectations, Elections, and Pop Culture Messiahs
Language warning: This essay uses a four-letter word twice. If you don’t like four-letter words or the repeated use of same, move on.
The dream: John Lennon in 1967 stepped out of the Indica Art Gallery in London. He was virtually unrecognizable as the mop-topped Beatles guitarist. His hair was thick but swept over to one side of his forehead. He wore granny glasses for the first time and sported a bright blue shirt and black sweater vest. As he glanced down the street, a man approached. Behaving as a gentleman, Lennon held open the door. Then he held it longer so a dark-skinned mother and her daughter could enter. …
last night I slept
under the stars
cloudy night, pinprick light
i stared into the cosmos
and it stared right back
i missed my mother
though she sat beside me
i missed my father
i wished his quiet guidance
had been stronger
i, too, am remote and careful
my old friend
where are you
we braved this insanity together
but i had to leave
when people don’t change
where is there to go
I am one with the universe
days and years pass like minutes
spirits pass with the twilight hue
i am beneath their notice
A Personal Ode in Poem
Today marks the day
The band first performed live.
I never saw them then. I was a toddler
Living landlocked seventeen hundred miles away,
But San Francisco with its Golden Gate and Haight-Ashbury
Served as runway for Jefferson Airplane,
A six-piece who created their own music and mythology:
And a never-ending quest for hazy paradise.
Grace Slick wasn’t with them then;
Their famous singer didn’t board for another year.
Paul Kantner and Marty Balin served as “pilots,”
Their first crew consisting of blues guitarist Jorma,
Upright bassist Bob, drummer Jerry, and contralto Signe.
They started small, but their following…
Do not seek the darkness, my son,
For the darkness will find you.
Neither turn nor shy from it,
For it cannot hurt you.
It can only show you what is:
The shadows provide depth and dimension;
They display how messed up the world is,
But that it doesn’t have to stay that way.
They make you see we are all victims,
But we can choose how to live with our pain.
Do not throw your hands up in defeat
When your hardest work has been for nothing.
Keep dreaming your dreams;
Reach for the highest branch,
For the world is better with you in it.
I am not a lion or tiger or wolf.
If I must compare myself to nature,
I will be a tree,
Tall and proud,
With roots that run deep into the soil
And branches that stretch into the sky.
Every scar on my skin
Speaks to the weathering of time
And the abuse of others
Who mistook my silence for license
To do as they pleased.
Yet I remain,
A survivor of many storms
Nourished by the light,
Unburdened by yesterday or tomorrow.
I am unique.
I am unlike my brothers and sisters,
And they are unlike me,
Yet we share the same serene purpose. …
Dreams like tea
Filter through the dawn,
The dim sum of life lived
A la carte on a menu:
Take what you want
But not too much.
You can’t have it all.
For what is in front of you.
She waits to take your order;
That is the extent
Of your connection
Though her eyes smile at you
And your heart,
Encased in silver,
Protected by iron,
Longs to inscribe her name.
Dreams like tea
Wake the mind
Before the eyes wake and chase away
The wild hope
Where you feel loved
Dreams remind you
With its cacophonous routine
And lingering aftertaste
Is the dream.
I went to your funeral
And you weren’t even dead . . .
The wake was held at your family diner;
I helped you move stuff around. The huge chest of drawers
Went upstairs, where it blocked the restrooms.
I was going to tell you
We had to do something about that.
I planned the service carefully:
Who would speak and when.
But when I returned from an errand,
You had changed everything.
Now only I spoke.
You and your wife and your mother and friends
Stood around me as I circled
And ad-libbed about our meeting and…
Rachel was there,
And Sarah was there.
We were holding a party
On the roof of a high rise,
Covered with grass and trees
In the middle of downtown.
One kid is so traumatized
By the game we play —
Dangling on metal poles
Over the side of the building —
That he curls up on the grass and cries.
I lay next to him
Just to be there,
Just to be.
That is all we must do:
I feel so free.
I let the morning take me
Where it wants to take me.
I join Sarah at her…