“The days change at night/change in an instant”–X, Los Angeles
Like it is with the years, one televised confetti spattered countdown and the number on the far right clicks once and we go on, calling it something different now. We had a fun and reasonably quiet NYE, pad thai and champagne with friends, then a little more champagne at my brother-in-law’s, then home. No injuries, and I finally did get a respectable amount of sleep, though that’s putting our departure back substantially. But there’s a cloudless sky out there, and a ripping wind stirring things up . . . makes me feel good, hopeful for this new year.
By accident I started writing poetry again a couple of days ago–but I don’t want to talk about it too much for fear I’ll scare the old ghost away. This is just a rough draft, hammered over for several hours, but it still has a-ways to go before I can call it done. A few more minutes under the broiler . . .
The year is ending everywhere and here
There’s no snow. The in-laws’ condo:
Sharp angles, stark walls and skylights,
Split-level, the graying architect a fellow
Development resident. Stacked
Bags of Christmas trash on the curb,
Swollen, fragrant in fifty
Degree air, cairns to our consumption.
Grass plays fresh, what’s April’s claim
Goes green now
Below the bare oak’s thin shadow
These last days of December.
My son turns fifteen on the first.
He sits by the fireplace tonight
Playing Hendrix riffs
On his new guitar, tiger maple
Body, rosewood fingerboard,
F-holes and white pickguard.
The picture window pings back
Flashes of candied light
From the neighbor’s yard:
Jesus, Mary, and Santa
Glow in a manger, the six-foot
Now gone flat by the pyracantha,
Fat wind took out the tie-downs,
Sent him rolling. Drunk on his circumference
Straight into those sharp thorns
(the sweating preacher said, at the Bible
Conference when I was ten)
God attached to the plants when
Eve and Adam and the whole damn
Deal went to Hell. The boy’s eyes
Watch his fingers fret the neck until
He hears in his hands what his
Mind is trying to tell.
Soon we’ll be making our way back down the highway of the saints, back home to Nashville, to work, and to school. The grind, the old familiar that’s changed before I realize it. Each day’s a face at the door, morning light pulls away the mask that’s the dead-ringer for your old friend. To reveal the wolf’s head, the unnameable bird the blue-blush color of flowers that grew on your grandparents’ trellis, a lover you’ve never met, blue metallic sequins from her party dress fallen all over your door mat. Welcome. You turn back to your wife to try to explain, but your native tongue has left the country on other business. 365 new friends, 1 at a time. With whom you must forge a commerce. Hello. Get back. Put that down. Hello. Open your mouth; the quick short breath before you call the name, then silently understanding your mistake: not that, but this. Not past, but present.
My son turns 15 today . . . holy shit! (Excuse me, but nothing else seemed appropriate for the moment).
Looking back at 2011:
Biggest accomplishments: organizing and carrying out a successful nine-month-long fan-funding campaign for the promotion and manufacture of Gloryland; because of its success, I was able to plan for a proper release (on February 14) of this long-awaited record.
Biggest thanks: All of you sponsors who made an effective and substantial release campaign possible!
Biggest loss: Patricia C. Brown, one of my closest friends, who also happened to be the best mother-in-law a boy could ever have. She was a profound believer in the healing power of a good dirty joke, held a steadfast distrust of organized religion and politics, and loved people with a generosity that made one feel immediately at ease in her presence.
Biggest challenge(s): learning how to grow as a parent along with my now-adolescent kids, keeping my chin up when the world says “no”, or more commonly, nothing. The old habits: imagining barriers where there are none. Assuming the worst, when it’s usually the least likely to happen. I’ve had a close relationship with fear for decades now, and it’s time to move on. She loves me because I’m a good listener and extremely faithful. May it be no more.
Gas Lamp (Des Moines) 11/5 or Chickie Wah Wah (New Orleans) 9/24
There were other great nights, but these two stick out–in New Orleans that night there were people at the show from every corner of my life, including many old friends I had not seen in years, and newer friends from hundreds of miles away, who just happened to be in NOLA at the same time. And what a cool room that is–sounds great in there, too.
Gas Lamp: After playing an unexpectedly successful solo show here on a Sunday evening, we played a band show here in November. One of the best nights/shows of the year–thanks, Des Moines.
Best new venues:
Chickie Wah Wah, NOLA
Gas Lamp, Des Moines
Ashland Coffee & Tea, Ashland VA
Maxine’s, Hot Springs AR
Got get on the road now–I’m about to get yelled at. See you out there, friends–happy new year!