In Darkness

It’s been a dark day

Awaiting fresh poppy deliveries

To hang and dry

To crush with mortar and pestle in hopes

Of visiting vexed vixens

Intent on mixing oils with petals

On canvas

To burn matches

Create riddles wrapped in enigmas

Suffering fools

Wedged between reality and surreal dreams

Of flames nipping on toes

Licking the spines of escapees running

Running with leaden legs

In terror

Horrid images of melting faces

Sinister clowns

Laughing murderously in captivity

Pacing as lions before the raw flesh

Devoured in torn chunks

Pulling and ripping as the mane waves

Gloriously in slaughter

An epitome of beauty

Repulsive synchronicity

Until contented satiated fullness

Awaits passing prey

Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye: 50 Years of Words and Music

Friday night I watched the streaming broadcast starring Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye along with their band mate Tony Shanahan as they performed and reminisced about their half century of song making and writing.

Watching this half century performance sans live audience brought to me feelings of both joy and melancholy.

In the quiet evening of my small home office, I teared up hearing her sing one of my personal favorites, a song entitled Ghost Dance popularized on the album Easter. But a clear highlight of the evening was her performance of Birdland from the Horses album. That one demonstrated the pure power of her lyrical poetry accompanied by Lenny’s guitar through diminuendo and crescendo blending its story; a sight I imagine paralleled the St. Marks Church show where Patti and Lenny performed poetry together for the first time in ’71.

Skavlan showreel circa 2017

During Friday’s streaming show it seemed that in Patti’s mind at least she was performing before a live audience. While the show was broadcast live and we, her audience watched from our devices, we weren’t there to scream, clap, shout, dance and give her the electric energy feedback on which live performers feed. And after saying “thank you” at the end of the first couple of numbers as any performer might do upon the crowd’s applause, she even commented on it. Aside from mentioning at the outset their proven good health and removal of masks for the show, this other moment acknowledged the strangeness of a pandemic performance.

Other show standouts included the Ballad of a Bad Boy, her tribute to Sam Shepard (who she described as a good man but also a bad boy) and Lenny’s World Book Night an unexpected but welcome diversion.

I’ve been a Patti Smith fan since ’78 when with a $6 dollar ticket in hand, I drove my uncool-body-style ’74 stick shift Mustang to see her band perform at the Science Center on the campus of Montgomery County Community College with my best girlfriend. There I’d fallen in love with punk, kept the souvenir buttons she’d tossed to the fans at the end the show and dreamed of a life for me as a rebel poet, a writer.

I followed her career, read her books and in 2019 snagged a 2×3 foot foam board poster advertising Year of the Monkey. The latest, Patti Smith on Patti Smith edited by Aidan Levy sits atop my current stack of new books to read.

Just for a Moment

Just for a moment
I saw you in dreams
Alive and awake
Breathing and laughing

Regaling me with stories of your escapades
Of baseball
And spelunking
Getting covered in mud
On your dirt bike

That you had to sell
To accelerate
Toward a new life
Just for a moment

Just for a moment
I watched your videos in my dreams
Reel to reel projected
An epic featuring the two-man wheel
Giggling its way across the sand
The tale of countless hours spent with friends
Building a plywood jump
That launched only laughter
Collapse and more laughter

Just for a moment
I saw you in those goofy blue
Max Headroom glasses
Holding a mouse
The white rapper
Vested and invested
Charisma so powerful
Attracting moths to a flame
Just for a moment

Oh, that laugh
So expectant that somehow
You’d step from behind the veil
Cameras pointed
Audience aghast
It was only a dream

Just for a moment

Refuse Mediocrity

Forcing thoughts from within
Childlike pout awaits clarity
Formless and helpless
Spirit filled
Eternal wisps tease synapses
Hints of mint-scented ions
Barely perceptible

Cultivated talent
Pushes to improve
Challenges stagnation
Refuses mediocrity
Opens minds to enlightened conversation
Insists on challenge
Insists on change
Insists on cooperation
and portent and rage and
Blind faith
Supports violent improvement
Lives purposefully

©50Figment ~ All Rights Reserved.

Photo Courtesy: Caters News Agency, Martin Rietze, photographer
Photo Courtesy: Caters News Agency, Martin Rietze, photographer