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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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. …


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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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

For others.

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…


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Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

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. …


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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

A Poem

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

yet apart

days and years pass like minutes

spirits pass with the twilight hue

i am beneath their notice


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Photo by DDP on Unsplash

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:

Stories,

Characters,

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…


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Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

A Poem

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.


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Photo by the author

A Poem

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. …


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Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

A poem

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.

Settle

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

Of Otherplace,

Where you feel loved

And needed;

Dreams remind you

This world

With its cacophonous routine

And lingering aftertaste

Is the dream.


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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A Poem

Last night,

I dreamt

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…


A Poem

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Photo by visuals on Unsplash

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…

About

Greg Gildersleeve

Author of super-hero/sci books, False Alarm (2015), The Power Club (2017) and The Secret Club (2020). He lives on the fringes of the middle of the Midwest.

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