Monthly Archives: June 2014

Big Heart of Yours by the David Wax Museum

Occasionally I will share with you all things that touch me, that move me, that make me want to push to be a better person. This is one of those things. A few years back in the dark dusty concert hall of DC called the 9:30 Club, where light streams through confusing places, chocolate cupcakes get passed around, and they have (and I say this with no sarcasm, really…) refreshingly cool Rolling Rock on draft that tastes like a grassy summer afternoon, that show was the David Wax Museum and during David Wax’s encore he sang a rugged and ragged slow motion guitar gentle to the touch tune and the line “Undress me with those dark eyes of yours” stuck with me. I tried to figure out what song it was, and couldn’t. It didn’t seem to exist, but in those graceful lyrics. Then, this song came out. And this seems to be a recently recorded intimate jam session with the song. Listen and enjoy. And check out more of the David Wax Museum: they rock. Check out their site here: http://www.davidwaxmuseum.com

 

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Snowball fights in the dead of summer.

Mississippi mud pie, tumbleweeds and catskills
baby, I’ve got looks that can kill and these thighs,
baby these thighs…
My oh my, chocolate stains on the corners of your lips
sexy and sweet
in that rocking whicker chair.

That fresh linen gasoline smell
just after it rains
just after my father mows the lawn
just like his father did
that smell has stained my mind
forever.
Those swirly seed pod petals that fall and unwind,
like a death staring torpedo
gracefully twirling toward corruption.

You blaze me to the core….

And fried okra, no southern meal’s
complete without fried okra
soaked in batter and toasted with beer,
broiled until just
just crisp.
My grandmother stood in her long skirt and apron and her
white heels in front of the oven for what seemed
like days on end, alway baking
something. Her hips twisting back and
forth to the beat of the water dripping from the
faucet, plink, plink, plink….
Swish, swish, swish.
There was a snowball tree in the back yard
and sometimes the neighbors would gather
and pick the flower bushels and we’d
have snowball fights
in the dead of the summer. Back then,
summers didn’t stutter. They were smooth, and cool
and we ran through sprinklers with
no responsibility but being home for supper and
eating all that was on our plate.

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Poetry, poetry…

One of my all-time favorite poems is this one by poet Gary J. Whitehead. I don’t recall how I came across it, I just did many years ago, probably five or six years ago by now, and it has stuck with me. I printed it out and have that folded and aging sheet of paper tucked away in random books in by bookshelf, re-stumbling upon it all the time.

I love the line “Be glad, or be sad if you want, but be…”. The poem is simple yet complex, it’s innocent but secretly daring. It’s real. I feel it. It inspires me.

So here’s my version of some Wednesday writing, inspired by Gary Whitehead:

The Leaves of Your Own Understanding

Promise me you’ll be,
you’ll always be part of something more.
That hour, where you sit and think a bit…
Go. Grasp what’s in front of you,
push past the cobwebs to the new light.
Dance down the street. Really boogie like
the blues that you never knew you had.

And be mad. When things make you angry
it’s okay to be mad and be sad.
But whatever you are being, be more,
like that sailboat when the winds have died
and the crew are sinking their oars in
and pulling back with so much desire for that
sandy shore.

Just like the sailors love the sea,
I wish you great love,
the kind that would have knocked down the Berlin wall with a wink. I wish you no fear
so that you can walk through the dark
when there’s no light ahead.
I wish you happiness, the kind that you
feel from the inside out.

Leave what you don’t like behind, take
your passions and make them burst into millions
of sparkling pieces that scatter your life.
Grow more, grow taller, grow greener, grow higher
towards the skies, towards the heavens.

Take adventures and seek monumental changes
big like France, like Africa.
Go places, see things, be a part of it all and keep moving forward and waiting for that something,
that something
that changes you for the better.

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Wasteland Circus

Colorful streamers wrapped around your empty mind,
floating waving, like dancing ladies with body paint smudged in every crevice and crease.
A rainbow of sexy crayola crayons.

You’d wish me away if you could, make me disappear.
Disaster, like a hole in your wooden canoe.
I’m your tragic wasteland, becoming nothing and taking
you with me away down endless nowheres.
You hide behind mimes because you don’t want
people to know who you really are,
ruby red nose and all.

But what do you do when everybody stops laughing,
when the stage lights go out,
when the man in gray overalls finishes
scooping up elephant shit and goes to bed.
What do you do then?
Do you play with your streamers,
counting the minutes till you see me again.
Do you scream louder than the lions–
a mercy cry out to your audience?

Cotton candy mouth, popcorn eyes,
you’re full of surprises, you clown.

Writers note: I don’t know what inspired this poem tonight. I sat down to write, listening to some new music, and this is what came out. This is one of the first times I have written about the invisible “you” without knowing who that “you” is. An interesting practice in writing: creating an unknown “you.”

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Return to writing

Why is it that I consider myself “a writer”? What does it mean to be one? Does it mean writing daily, writing drunk and editing sober, being published, having writing credentials and a master of fine arts? 

I’ve been published. I don’t write daily. I dropped out of the only creative writing class I’ve ever taken. And I could write drunk if someone made me a cocktail or a strong punch. 

Two writing milestone happened in the past few days, and made me realize that YES! I am a writer. And I should never have abandoned this endeavor. I always do this, I start something, I let it slip, and then I don’t continue on with it and pick it back up because I get scared. I get scared that it’s been too long, that I’ve failed, and that if I start it again I may just fail again. Why are we afraid of personal failure, especially if we’re the only one that knows we’ve failed? Isn’t it failure only if you don’t try again?

I was published, again. (I’m going to go ahead and brag here for just a little bit, so I apologize in advance for that.. but I do also strongly believe that everyone should brag about themselves once or twice a year) I wrote this silly little City Report on the bicycle scene in DC and it was published on Urban Velo and is even in the print version of the magazine. 

When I first saw it online and then realized it was in the print version, I got giddy with excitement. I thought to myself, which am I more excited about, this or that time I was published as a “contributing travel writer” in the Philadelphia Inquirer… I guess a few more people have heard of the Inquirer…

The second big thing is that I was asked to be a main contributing writer for a new blog starting in my city. It’s still in the very beginning stages, but we’re having a first meeting of the writers in a few weeks and I’ll be there, scared ideas and all. 

So. I am a writer because it makes me happy. It makes me feel strong. It’s something I feel I am good at… I don’t know if it will ever become a career for me, or if I will ever publish a book and do readings in bookshops across the country. But, for now, I am going to return to writing. I’m going to meet with Jack again, and go hang out with Allan. I’m going to get swept up and lost in the books that I once knew and read stories that will greet my thoughts for the first time. 

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