• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 10

Surrounded

You were so tired. I took the picture and didn’t turn back.

At first I worried. About you not having sunglasses. No hat to shade you from the sun. Water for when you got thirsty.

You said all you needed was your guitar. To find the thing you had lost. That made you you. You couldn’t find that thing while you were surrounded.

I repeated this until I stopped worrying. I was tired too.

1

Moving On

It’s the sky, of course, the vast indifferent sky. That’s what holds him. The same sky he knew as a child. He used to go roller-skating, he tells me. On his own, in the little park near their apartment, through the grey drift of afternoons. Skating round and round, quite slowly, and all the time singing to himself the one song, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’. Quiet and slow, like a promise that if repeated and repeated must come true: and we’ll be moving on, and singing that same old song, and we’ll be moving on… Like a needle in a run-out groove. He knows five languages, he tells me, but he isn’t perfectly at home in any of them. He had a job, even a career, he tells me, but now he can’t work, not properly, not the way he used to: he can’t cope with the noise, the arguments, and they said he was unreliable. He tells me this from a place far away, sound and meaning travelling slowly, some kind of delay… Then his eyes lift and his smile breaks through like sunlight through cloud. But it’s okay, he says, I am kind of a floating person. And he leaves me with the song and its promise, bright rock’n’roll shifted downtempo, transposed to a minor key, a phrase revolving slowly under a wide grey sky. We’ll be moving on. We’ll be moving on. We’ll be moving on.
2

Dialogue

    You might wonder what I’m doing here, out so far beyond words.
    Words stopped with the last signpost miles ago. And, as for me, well look at me—a silhouette: perfect, phallic masculine. I look like the sort can’t end sentences, who’ll drop a word like peyote, whose drawl stretches out so far each word could straddle Texas.

    Say nothing.
    Just look at me. I have been designed to be looked at.

    Evasive, I’ll slip from the eye, posed like I don’t care how I look, which is no less a pose, offering some affordance to the verbal. So tell me what I am. I need completion. My feet, for example. Do I have any? Am I wearing—what—cowboy boots, high heels? Are my jeans straight or bootcut. Stockings?
    I might be taking a piss.

    Slim: my girlfriends find me insubstantial. They overspill their tops, they bulge against their jeans. They’re looking for one who feels things deeply but can’t say. Girls are too much. I am not.

    The only thing better would be a soldier.
    The only thing better would be a gun.

    In the desert nothing is masc or femme. I can’t come back from here, can only dry up, go on, into this land that might have cactuses, or might have nothing. I’m facing this valley like the sea; each grain of sand is faceted. To describe each of them would take an aeon. You see why words are useless here.

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3

Getting Out

So you left. So you left the city and went out on your own, left behind the apartment that was freezing cold in winter, left behind the filthy streets, left behind the hypodermic needles that collected in that gulley by the wall where the junkies hid and huddled and shared their treats.

You got out, escape by way of Greyhound, into the bus station past the souvlaki stands, the subway hustlers and street corner pimps.

And as you left the city and stared out at Hell’s Kitchen, you felt a lump in your throat. It was as if you were already looking back on something you’d lost, like being presented a shoebox of photographs someone dug up from your stored belongings, like sitting in a cinema showing a lost and scarred stretch of silent film.

You were gone, out, into the green. All gone to look for America. This was so long ago there were ashtrays in the back of the seats. The air in the back of that bus was blue with cigarette smoke, stank of sweat and cold souvlaki and beer.

And you rode and rode and rode. Out into the west. Out to rest stops and road side diners where no one had ever seen someone like you, where they asked, What you want, honey? And you were just relieved they weren’t downright hostile, there, in the land of blue eye shadow and bouffant hair.

You walked out there with your guitar. Someone asked you, What you play on that? You showed him, showed him the tune you’d been composing, showed him that an electric guitar can play even softer than an acoustic.

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4

Somewhere Beautiful

"I want to be somewhere beautiful."
    You already are.
"Somewhere in the middle of a guitar
arpeggio, strummed by a Spanish peasant."
    How noble, how clichéd.
In the centre of a Spanish arpeggio.

I want to be somewhere beautiful,
in the centre of an unsung arpeggio,
in the midst of swan feathers diving
to break the lake and still know of living.
To catch the sun on a diary page,
to burn forever and never fade.

5

Hymn for the man by Periyar

this thick yarn of emptiness
is all I have to feel warm
in your absence
this rudimentary landscape
your cold, shining jaws
and a janitor called moment
drug me to sleepless hours
and endless trek
through nothingness
when moon spills over Periyar,
don't drown your self

This love is not safe

6

Bass Cleft

Death Valley. Sidewinders and sweat lodges. Furnaced winds and crystallised salt. Ghosts of gold-prospectors’ withered wagons and quad bikers chockfull of daring-do. Each a mere sand-blasted striation on Mother Earth’s abdomen. An unnoticed notch that secures no traction across her fecund belly, hence they view her as barren in this benighted place. More graveyard than gravid.

But he knows the key to unlocking her. To have her spew the molten magma from deep within her navel. To unleash a spurting cataract, one the oil companies would bear no interest in. Not through any foolish drumming. That vain anticipation of striking up the sympathetic resonance necessary to crack open the landscape. It’s not beat, it’s not even down to frequency. Nor is it any drone effect. It is rather the place of dead sound. And his trusty Fender bass will find it. No need for electrified amplification. Just strumming the strings in humble propitiatory vibration will soothe and induce her. Plucking and slapping and popping her womb. The lowest note in the world to resonate with the highest temperature at the lowest point in the world. The Omphalos to the realm of volcanic heat below. And when his bass has played midwife to Mother Nature, then the Devil shall emerge from his Inferno to claim his rightful kingdom, serenaded all the way by an orchestra of glorifying bass guitars. Hailed by the humble and unhailed of rock and roll.

7

The beach

A thousand echoes, cliché as it is: that is what you've left me with. Dark cove, dunes like sifted flour. Shells that whir, that long to speak but are muted by fear and confusion. They witnessed it all.

The wiser of the animals frown their disapproval but don't wish to involve themselves in the dirtiness of humans. The otters float, eyes raised in quiet exasperation, the whales mutter their annoyance and the accident of size amplifies their voices, gives them strength and importance they perhaps wouldn't have chosen. The octopus long ago sighed and propelled itself away. It had seen enough of this type of thing.

Only the dolphins are confused. They like humans, it is hard-wired into their brains. We sped by perhaps those same ones in our boat and you reached out and touched one's head. I said not to, you jeered at me, told me I was pathetic and a tree-hugger. I watched your mouth open and shut. Lips wide and pink like slugs, spit over teeth. The black hole beyond. Why do we speak? I thought then, as I do now. No good ever comes of speaking.

So now I am silent, I am wise and I share with you the secret I have learnt. Speaking with our mouths only is useless. Completely. Its is surplus to requirements. What we need to communicate is our voice, yes, but that voice that comes from within, the note carefully tailored by the universe, by the dunes, by the sand and sea, by things smarter than us.

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8

Sandy-Shoed Brucealike Has Mid-Desert Identity Crisis

In the deepest desert, things glean
Like the taught strings of a guitar,
Drop your life to look like Springsteen,
Born to Run, but not this far.

I figured I looked pretty cool, too,
Silhouetted in desert heat;
The reality: sand in my shoe,
And only sand to eat.

I retuned my faithful Fender,
And booked the next flight home,
I went on an all-night bender,
And then fiddled as I burnt down Rome.

9

Interupted tracks

There are dry places where music
calls out sustenance,
the quench for expression conglomerates
within sandy notes
finds contemplation -
the musician is nomad among the minds of dancers
troubadours taking, making feeling from a fretboard.
.

She that wanders might not be balanced
but might walk with awe, atuned by way
of philosophical concerts.
Her equipment may not be natural to the environment.
Energy she feels the need of can pass fleetingly;
waiting for the sun, or a lightning bolt.
In the fingertips, she can always find power...
One guitar, no need for electricity.

Resonance is a portable entity - in the dry heat
it takes in its setting, amplifies, and echoes out truth.
For talent, within, she will always be in demand.

10

Stolen Strings

Time proves you right: I am no good as a thief. Try as I might, I fail to steal your heart.

I settle for hitting grocery stores.

You move south to write poetry and fall in love with an acid jazz drummer. I never get why your poems don't rhyme, but I still dig you anyway.

Outside music stores, I scour the fading cards pinned in glass cabinets. Bass player wanted. I hang around backstage, and lift a Rickenbacker. Fingers made for forcing unlocked windows are repurposed to caress steel strings.

You come to my show; you’ve seen my picture in the local newspaper for all the wrong reasons. We kiss and, after you leave to make the last bus, I gun for somewhere I won’t be found — all tin shacks and parched earth.

In the cool evening, I watch the path through the foothills and sing your song. Only now, I realise that I have always been the victim.

11

resonance

the thing about the bass
is the resonance
is the carrying on
and the thing about this picture of me
is the resonance for me and
the resonance for you
and the carrying on

you back there with my amp
and my leads and your drums
and those hands holding the sticks
and my hands here on my bass
on my bass

and the other thing
about me and you is
or was the rhythms
is or was the rhythms
the rhythms
and the thing about out here is
the rhythms
of the sun setting
and the sun rising
and the green
always there
stubborn and resistant
but never quite blooming
never quite blooming

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12

Grit

A single grain of sand crunched against her teeth and little things and little thoughts seemed of the greatest significance. She considered the might of the grain and if it could actually stand against the force of her enamel and crack her teeth and be done with it. She clamped down hard in a spirit of worry and trust and this singularity fought on despite its isolation. And for longer than a moment she envied the grain’s tenacity and made excuses for the lack of her own by brooding on its hitherto easy life. No previous singling out, nothing special, no adoring fan base, yet a stronger desire to survive than she had shown to herself.

Nearly twelve million people waited for her in the city, just two days’ walk away. She could hide in the anonymity of numbers and occasionally when her bills and her ego demanded she could play some of her songs unknown there and be the focus again for a night. That was the plan as the plane’s brakes screeched and she watched the sand blow across the runway. Perhaps a wheel of her plane tossed this very grain into the air as she arrived to be breathed in as she left. Again these little thoughts: that it was she who threw this grain of sand high and as it descended it marked her time like sand in any hourglass. How obvious it is now, that all things that play out are the result of one’s own hand. There must be no blame but that which you direct towards yourself.
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13

A Visitor

When I killed the animal I ate its flesh and threw away the bones. I went to sleep with a contented smile on my face, despite a sore stomach. A violent sound woke me in the middle of the night, a close sound. I forced myself to keep still. I didn’t even breathe. The rest of the house remained silent, as did the wide desert outside. The animal may have had family who wished to avenge it. I threw on a pair of old trousers and took my rifle. The blue moonlit sand was still asleep, cold as my bare feet sank into it. I circled the house to check. I should have saved the animal bones for soup, but another animal had carried them away. I turned on every light in every room of the house. The brightness settled me. Sleep didn’t come easy, but when it did it carried me long into the afternoon. I started my day as everyone else finished siesta.
     An open window had let the house fill with moths. I hunted them out with the yard-brush, killing the ones that refused to move, then drove into town for supplies. On the way I passed the old honky-tonk tramp, playing songs on a battered out of tune bass guitar. The tramp wrote its own songs, probably due to an inability to play other people’s. Each song had the same dreary drone. They were all about people who lived round here. I wondered if there were any about me and the animal.
     I picked the tramp up with the offer of dinner on my way back from town. People were rarely invited to my house. I liked to be on my own; that’s why it was further into the desert than any other house in these parts. It made me feel like I lived on the edge of the world.

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14

OneTwoOne

You know what? No. No. You know what? You can just stuff it. No. No I don’t care. No. I’ve had it, had enough. Enough of you and enough of you. And especially enough of you. No. No I won’t sit down. No. I’ve held my tongue long enough now. No you fucking shut up. I’m out. I’m out of here. I’m out from under the fucking thumb of you lot. No. I see it. I see exactly what you’re trying to do. I’m not an idiot. I know exactly what you want and I know you’ve been after it for months. You think I’m blind? You actually think I’m blind enough that I wouldn’t see. You really think you could go on with all this bullshit, drag everyone out here, drag me out here, lock us away from, from everything, all to just sit back and do exactly what you want and I wouldn’t see it? No. This morning was the last fucking straw. I know exactly what you did. I could hear it. A fucking idiot could hear it. You had me in there working all yesterday trying to make sense of that gibberish you keep shouting in my ear, put some shape on that pile of rubbish you think means something, leave me sweating in that fucking box all day then come along and dump the lot of it and come up with this, this, this shite, and you think I wouldn’t spot it? You really do take me for an idiot. Yes, you. The lot of you. You all think I’m just here to make up the numbers. Read more >

15

Album Art

My brain’s gone mushy, I don’t remember his face. The photo he called album art’s no help.

I remember this: he neither took off his leather jacket nor put down his bass guitar until a girl gave him a reason. He loved playing the rockstar.

His act, I thought, was only that – an act. The right woman, meaning I, would tame him. But he grew bored, picked up the bass and the jacket and vanished. All I’ve left is the album art and the bump.

I wonder if the baby will look like him. I hope so. That’ll remind me.

16

Solo

It’s much too quiet for a song, too quiet for a song to be heard at all, to be heard at all over all the quiet that’s getting much too quiet, much too quiet but you just don’t know it yet, know it yet don’t know it yet, yet the sky holds everything together even when you think you’re alone, alone with a song in your head that holds everything together even when you think, you think you’re alone and the song jags through something too soft to be another cloud passing, another cloud passing over what you thought you knew in the light of the sun shining on the very thing you had in mind just long enough to make it out, make it out of there by letting go and forgetting the whole thing ever happened about which nothing can be done now except think around the empty shape of its happening, its happening isn’t happening now, now listen, listen to each step pressing the sand into each step in the shape you might recognize if you listen, listen to the air through every opening that isn’t your body in a steady state of containment to listen, listen to the opening of your body shot through with holes letting just about everything in to swirl together and smoke up to make absolutely no sense of the sky just there to listen, listen to it play the whole thing back for each of you alone with the huge sun crackling white hot that eats away at the back of the soft cloud puffing white puff that shadows the long shaded ground cooling in the rain shredding the empty space into every conceivable empty space you could fit into if you really tried again in blast after blast of wind.
17

LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL

Imagine that you've crash landed in the
desert. You, and five others, are alive.
After a quick examination of
the contents of the plane, you make a pile
of the salvageable, serviceable
items which survive the impact:
           plastic
heavy-duty rubbish sacks, four bottles
of airline-branded mineral water,
two boxes of chocolate bars, a carton
of complimentary nuts (to be served with
post-take-off drinks), several cushions, one
pair of headphones, a lifejacket, three books
of matches, a rum miniature, blankets,
and a bass guitar (rescued unscathed from
the overhead locker).
           And there's always
one – only there to get a day out of
the office – who says, for a laugh, “sod the
rest of you, I'll take that guitar and a
bottle of water.” Then, with that, stands up,
slings the guitar over his right shoulder,
and blows a cheery kiss goodbye.
18

Sand Song

It’s good that the sand captures the sound.
The silence is heavy and deafening
but if you’re willing to take the scorched steps
or buff your skin smoothing and sorting the grains,
the notes will rise to your ears, stick in your teeth,
cling to the corners of your eyes and hum like
a shell song in the depths of your head.

If the sand did not suck the sound from air –
if it weren’t hungry for the weight of chords,
jostling to the beat, thumping the rhythm up
through the soles of your boots to the soul;
if it did not cling to the waves and peaks of a strummed string
and weave itself into a vibrant carpet of vibration,
where might I go? How could you ever find
me if my songs were left to run loose and unrecorded
into that terrible sky?

19

You have to trust

Each time it's different, but still the same. The ping of recognition. Finding your other half. Everything becomes a co-incidence. A miracle. You too? Oh yes, me too. I feel. Me too. The step taken willingly over the void. No turning back. Only then, in the distance, like wind over a desert, another half-heard song. A siren you can't shake yourself free from. You too? No. Not you.
20

African Sun

Twelve o'clock sun punishes my neck.
No sign of a dipping down above.
The glare of a desert day
follows me friendless,
a silhouette, silent, strolling.
Yet coins jingle in my pockets.
I can never be alone-
my mind waits until music extends
from anxious, nimble fingers
into the chords of my guitar,
now cocked at half mast.
I'll wake the plains
with grand swells of sound,
make particles of sand
surround me, shiver alive,
vibrant.
21

Walkabout

The sandy dust floated up and stuck to my jeans as my military boots take it in turns to disturb the ground. My leather jacket rubs against my sweaty back, but I keep wearing it despite the heat – otherwise, the weight of Isaac’s bass will cut into my shoulder.

      The road away from disappointment is never-ending, but I march on angrily; the distant neighboring sand dunes outline a perimeter of nothingness; while the open road promises something, but I don’t know what.

      I didn’t set out into the desert with a long term plan, but I was frustrated with life. I had heard that the Aboriginals of Australia go on a walkabout into the desolate wild to find peace and spiritual awareness. I’m not from Australia, and I’m not an Aboriginal, so there is probably more to it than I know, but I reasoned that even Jesus had wandered the desert for spiritual answers, at least I think he did. Either way, the trend I detected was the need for space to set your thoughts out.

      I’m not sure if anyone has ever had an epiphany in the Nevada Desert. Although, I am walking away from Vegas, so I imagine there are a few who gambled everything and then proceeded to tread down this road and think about when they should have quit.

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22

a different song

escape
from
palette-cleansed dinner conversations.
from
eyes that will not
well or look or talk
or laugh.
from
the banter of friends
who once were
but now dance
to a song
that has abandoned
language for words.

escape
into
a long conversation
with the wall that
wands itself
a poem.
into
eyes that bore
into nothingness
like the dark bores
into light.

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23

One Note at a Time

Strung out in a desert
where decaying melody
echoes across the infinite void
of time’s slow collapse,
the lonely weaver of words
plucks ripe sounds
from out thin air,
breathing The Word
back into creation.

Each strum upon the instrument
he keeps strapped around his shoulder
brings the fruition of high vibration
into harmony with the once parched landscape.

Where once there was drought,
now the chalice is full.

Where once there was chaos,
now the music beats in tune.

Where once there was sorrow,
now feet dance in ecstatic joy.

Where once there was silence,
now laughter and song fill the air.

Where once there was only mirage,
now the muse has been resurrected.

24

(Notes for) A discourse on (some of the ironies inherent within) Cosmic American Music

You always have to be wary of anyone who claims they are seeking ‘The Big Music’. Have you seen how large that sky is? Do you think the troposphere is waiting to be crooned to?

**

Of course, this would never work as an album cover. Men, at a subliminal level, would be too disturbed by the subversion that is going on here. A woman in black coming out of a white desert to make music that seduces us? You can hear the ponytails of the old rockers flapping away as they quickly reverse away from the newsstand – the inversion of the power relationship inherent in most rock and roll will clearly be too much for them to handle.

**

Everyone has a story, where they were in a pick-up band at school. Mine started and ended after one gig when I was 16, playing rhythm guitar on ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash at a Christmas concert. Nothing exciting about it, apart from the fact that the girl I’d been trying to chat up for the last three months, who’d been getting ever-more efficient at ignoring my entreaties, was down the front, eyes glowing – and looking at me.

Ah, I thought – that’s why you do it.

**

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25

The Sands of Silence

Don’t let him get away!
The words are electric lights in your head, zapping the darkness into crystal clarity.
He's incredibly rare, a speciman existing entirely to you and only you. Everyone interprets him differently and sometimes he's not even a man; he's been known to exist as a woman, a dog, cat, oasis, a helping hand, a saviour in this wasteland connecting nothing with nothing.
And then this man, this striking silhouette of a guy in profile with a guitar slung casually over one shoulder, appears before your blistered sight and just seeing him makes the pain ebb away.
Of all your belongings, it's the camera you treasure most. With it poised in your hands, you snap away hoping the silhouette isn't just another mirage. They say spending too much time playing in the sand softens the brain, weakening one's sight, but this man is too real to be false; his silhouette the darkest existence staining the horizon. He is a permanent fixture. Just like you. Your camera. The sand. His guitar.
You smile at the instrument. This is the solution to your puzzle. The man exists because his guitar exists, and his guitar exists because the melody is there, written in the sand saturated wind which sticks to your lips like bitter sugar grains and hardens your hair.
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26

Stadium

The desert is your stadium:
the blades of grass, your fans,
swaying to the breeze waiting
for you to take your Fender
from your shoulder and play.
In a moment, you will pluck
a low E and the sand dunes
will melt away. The sky will darken,
the bass will play, the rain will come.
27

to carry yours

this punch/ paunch of a stomach
it's made by carrying
your stressed late nights
for trooping your troops
toward the drier savannah

what I carry now:
the glistening floss
of guitar string
snap-worthy
more substantial
than my own body
anti-luminescent Under
the symbolism of cacti
& love that pricks

i was on a mission
but now i am missing
traveling to the tune of you
without recognizing the means
i have to play my own

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28

Sometimes I Can Hear the Wind Sing

When the chords don’t come,
I go to the desert, feel the rifts
of sand under my bare feet
and look away from the sun
as I listen to the evening wind
strum through my guitar strings,
then feel my heart resonate
with the same hot pulse.

When the chords don’t come
to bisect the arc from my heart
to soul —the short cut to yours
when you were here— I know
I must travel that path alone,
the one of longing, even if
the moon smiles and the stars
twinkle to memories of lavender.

When the chords don’t come,
I go to the desert, feel the cactus
under my skin while its flower
blooms your name. I listen…
for the right notes in its voice,
play the same tune in the cleft
of my hobo heart, feel it bleed
when I’m alone in the dark.

29

A Blue Silhouette

I always thought silhouettes were charcoal shadows
but yours isn't. It's blue.
It's stuck on the flat screen of my heart,
where your guitar strings still pluck
sad and endless blood vessels.

A Monday morning pumps the pipes
to Julliard in the 60's, where you chase
sleep after your nightly projectionist's job.

Later we go to a Caribbean cafe, uptown,
to eat rice and love beans.
Our story and plates remaining,
so unfinished.

30

Into The Desert

One day Jake woke to find himself a silhouette. A piece of paper art, 2D and flimsy but with a precise, perfectly-rendered edge.

He carried on for a while, making dum-dum sounds with his guitar, spitting up lyrics like a kind of sickness. People lapped them up. Before the show were the same pills and lines of coke; after the show were the piles, of money and drugs, and the lines of girls waiting, wanting signatures, and more.

Jake wondered how they did not notice his flesh had gone to flatness, a fine-cut piece of card in the shape of a familiar rock star. It was a pattern: the puckered, slightly pouting lips; the down-cast eyes with a wisp of lash; the large forehead, so of the fashion, adding to that brooding, broken-hearted look. You could imagine puppy dog eyes, the sneer of a soft top lip - but when he looked in the mirror all he saw was shadow. A cut-out, blind and featureless. A puppet, playing the same role over and over again.

One morning, after the parties had petered out into the usual small surrealisms and post-fuck slumbers, Jake left. He took his guitar, feeling its wooden weight as a comfort, the closest thing to a staff he could gather; and then, he walked out, into the desert, the beating heat of it, not thinking of a return.

Sometimes he rested, in the shadow of a cactus or, one time, beneath the spiked, punkish head of a Joshua tree. He saw a tortoise, potato-soft and slow, but plated with armour hard as stone. The sands shifted beneath his feet, sometimes they sucked a little, but Jake did not feel them. He was being blown by an invisible wind. He was as light as tissue paper, airy and insubstantial.

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31

Play on Regardless

Silhouetted against the backdrop of this barren land,
I ask myself:
What am I doing here? Who or what brought me to these unfamiliar surroundings?
Transported through time.
Is this a dream?
Will I awake and find myself back in a more familiar place, where I can continue my life as a musician?
Who will hear me now?
I will play to the desert hills, play until my fingers are sore
and I tire of strumming.
It is all I know.
I will create music, and be comforted.
The hills will dance to my tune.
I will be heard
If only by God.
32

Choices

After the moment of truth, he turned away
from the riverside community.

Out there the wilderness waited,
took his voice: insisted that he search
to redeem it. His choice.

Through fevered days and freezing nights
beguiling stones chattered of bread.
He set his teeth - resisted,
judged the pinnacle of memory
no more than a mirage.

As the vast expanse of desert
flickered before his eyes, he turned away,
knew that his music, his voice,
would take him to eternity.

33

Has Been or Never Was?

You were my icon
But you were built on sand
Your talent a mere mirage
A cynical packaging
Of someone else’s words
Of someone else’s song
In pursuit of celebrity

You disguised the hypocrite inside
Despising those who
Gave you fame and fortune
Let complacency
The fool’s friend
Lead to unguarded moments
And candid comments

You bit the hand that feeds
And in turn you were bitten
A career condemned to shadow
To wander in the wilderness
As a distant memory and become
A bargain basement
Cardboard cut-out
On a green screen

34

Basso Profundo

Love is a matter of geography
A place, where wide open shadows
Split infinitesimally
Flowing round a figure
Wrapped in sombre music
Whose song will augur
Endings, and who's best
Gesture is a silhouette
A statue in the wilderness
Soon the light will gather
Moving from the mist outside
Into the baleful desert air.
35

Sudanese Migrant – Summer 2015

Where are you heading Man? I hear you ask.
Nowhere and everywhere is my reply.
My guitar keeps me company on the long
and winding road to your civilisation.
I sit and strum – I walk and think.

There has to be a better life.
Somewhere open for business,
not closed and French-shuttered.

On my way to Calais – I will not be moved.
Then Britain to its shiny-gold pavements.
Rain stopped cricket.
Buckingham Palace.
I want to go legal,
not undercover on the underground.

I’ll busk on London’s streets.
Sing it like good ol’ Bob
and make an honest living.
I will make you proud my adopted land.
I will make a good home.
I will learn your British Values.

Give me a chance – open your minds and borders.
My mind is ‘blowin in the wind’.
Blowing me your way.
Blowing me out like a candle.
On the wrong side of the tracks.

36

Rock Art

A stationary open-top mustang with moving background scenery created chase scenes; real cops and robbers stuff in the era of movie reels. We were transfixed. Ice-cream vendors with torch lights sold tubs at the intervals, eagerly digested by attendees at the Saturday night movie-house.

We moved then with the times to modern music videos with backdrops of the Taj Mahal or New York cityscapes gleaming behind the dude with the electric guitar. He, regardless of the decade wears too-tight trousers matched with the compulsory matching black leather jacket and Stratocaster.

Modernity has as its sport a focus on what we held and lost; memorials to the inbuilt destructive nature of the human race. The empty great plains of the Native American contrast with the still of the musician. It drags the eye to the sparse grassland.

What lies beyond the silhouetted mountains? Water perhaps or new life? Or the bones and fossils of a sacred history, reduced to stock photo pop art supporting the climb through the charts of the latest rock wannabe?

37

The Studio

Originally the surrounding horizons were flat and characterless. They looked endless and plain, usual and fresh, a canvas that was as pure as virginity. But when the musician entered, with his mind focused yet awash with creativity, the walls bent and snapped as the land around him grew into hills of waves of falling sand.
The first note was low, his bass guitar sending a ripple into the air. Like butter the atmosphere became soft and thick whilst feeling pleasant and warm. The straight line of the distant land then made its first movement. A piece of string being flicked at one end and its force moving through it at a wonderful slow rhythm. A hum glided through the air.
When the next few notes began to flow out of his instrument, the view around him began to change. No longer was he in a room of four walls, surrounded by overly-priced equipment all glaring at him with the sort of judgement a head teacher would give to a pupil. He was now away in a land whereby everything mechanical dissolved into the sunlight he felt around him. The sunlight which did not exist in reality but did exist where the musician was.
He carried on plucking the notes, feeling the rhythm of his playing and becoming one with his instrument until his momentum hit its climax as the song began to rumble down to silence again.
‘Excellent, you can stop there. Let us listen back through it’, said the producer.
The musician stopped for a moment, observing what he had created. Like an artist he had painted a world around him. The distant views were clear and perfect. A freshness was in the air and he could feel the breeze that moved the hills of sand. Each grain, he felt, was a fragment of his being. An element of his playing, which now had formed into great dunes of musical wonder. Read more >
38

Unplugged

You might have said I was ethereal, under the tent swathed in the night light. I appeared there as a reminder for you every night. A silhouette to tempt you back into the known, in away from the nothingness and no-oneness of the desert. Did it taunt you? I don't think so. Did it hurt me every night to make myself appear captured only by artificial light? Yes it did.

The contrast with you was stark. You could pluck and strum and still make it sound as it was supposed to even if we weren't. I could only moan with the current of machines and the base elements. You had your voice to accompany you. I had my hand reached out in shadow to clasp nothingness, to point at no-one that I recognised any more. To make signs of words that I could no longer breathe, in any air. You were out there, once removed from me, pointing your guitar at the stars, already naming one after me in your shape fuddled mind.


I twirled around under tented nights, hurt-spun by the rigours of my body but let's pretend otherwise. Let's say that you paced the arid land to build up the courage to pull back the curtains and sing me a song of enduring anything else but this. I could throw sand in my face and find a reason not to sing along. I could find an excuse for my rasping. I could pretend you still had the long hair of my youth. Of my life with you. There would be no negative charges, only the electrified noise of us clanging with life. There would be no hum. There would be no nurses. There would be no consent forms. It would just be me and you unplugged in the desert. Instead I am here in a medical biouvac of sterility where even your long hair is a threat. Where your guitar could upset me if too loud, say goodbye to me if too quiet. So, unplug me and do it now before you realise I'm not dancing for you anymore and I cannot breathe alone.

39

Earth Jam

'He's gone WHAT?'
'Walkabout. You know, the place you go to find yourself?'
Aneme screwed up his face before pulling down his eyelid to smear on some half melted black eyeliner. Standing back he pouted at his reflection. He leaned forward, ruffling his hair and then sharply stood upright, making his eyes big and expressive.
'But wasn't he recently offered that major gig? So he just walked off?'
Stevo nodded, his glittery, black lipstick sweating like melted liquorice.
'Bass players are weird - Every One!' Aneme shouted, spitting on the mirror.
'He mentioned something about jacking into the Earth, bass resonances an' all that,' Stevo said.
Secretly Stevo envied him, he was getting bored playing keyboards with Aneme and the Anemones.

Suddenly the door was flung open and a furious mother yelled in unreal, metal decibels.
'What did I tell YOU BOYS about playing around with my make-up? DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS? Get downstairs both of you and get washed up, your Grandmother will be here soon!'
The two boys glanced at each other, her outstretched arm a dangerous border, they ran forward, ducking under, she swiped at Aneme, her ring just catching his eyebrow.
'Not the face Mum,' Aneme shouted dramatically before tumbling-running down the stairs.
She rolled her eyes, regretting she'd ever suggested that her two ten year old boys 'imagine' they were in a band.

40

Pass

HBK
This sahara is punctuated by one long stretch of road, snaking east to west, measuring the current of sand when it moves in hot, infrequent winds. It offers a direction, plants its axis like flag, claiming defiance in this vast place.

I am reminded of its uncertainty as I walk. It curves between sand dunes and out of sight. Reminds me of old cartoons that play the same background on repeat. Except for the occasional shrubbery, I am a victim of the heat and mirage plays with me. It seems I could touch the mountains, so small in the distance. Break up the sands to dissipate through my fingers.
Instead, the one stretch of tarmac road refracts heat, pushes it toward me from below and I am a pariah of avoidance.

There are people, shadows of pilgrims, on a similar journey. I walk alone. We infrequent beings have chosen silence for a time: a unity has crept up on us. It is as easy as me turning around to join you: changing direction, heading back. Could I take your hand perhaps? We do not know, either of us, what the other is running from. You, I presume, a band, or a wedding. I noticed only your guitar… would have to turn back, erase counted steps, to remember the dents of your face, the fingernails plucked from their skins, the stains from bleach on your neck.

And I am sure my ending is uncertain, I will walk til I run out of road. Not convinced of how distance works in spaces so untouched by human influence. Walk and count and presume their is a peace waiting for me.

I assumed of you the same when we passed one another.

41

Nevada

In the desert
your music changes, melding
with the harsh harmonics
of the landscape.
The mellow, smoky blues
leach away, replaced
by monochrome discords,
stark and brittle
as sun-bleached bone;
shrill and strident
as a stooping eagle;
pitched, somewhere,
between jazz
and insanity.

They drop you,
before Vegas,
fearing the crowd
will find your new sound
a little too close to home
for comfort;
leaving you stranded,
at the edge of the road,
somewhere between jazz,
and insanity.

42

Open Door

A deep sky spreads itself above him. Not a cloud, not a bird. He longs to look up, but his mind is filled with a determination he cannot let become distracted. He's made it out of there, escaped from that suffocating hell. They can stay there, with their little-town ways, the diner, the brawls, the Mid-West cliches. All he needs is the clothes on his back and his sweet, sweet guitar. He knows he will go far.
43

Desert Notes

Sunlight now replaced the limelight he’d been forced to live in. He spent days walking through the burning sand dunes with his father’s electric guitar slung low against his hip. At the palm lagoon no one could see his clumsy fingers. He let rip on the soundless strings, relieved to be unplugged.
44

Arid

under the sky that has
forgotten to wrong you
yesterday isn't just a blip in time
it's the unity and struggle of two
chords that were mostly noise
guitar strings strung today like fragile
twigs of mango trees unseen
silence isn't golden
it's the storm brewing
45

Insane Ambition

The argument, I admit, was my fault.

"How the interview go?"
"They offered me a job."
"That's great."
"I turned them down."
"You did what?"
"I declined their invitation."
"I don't believe this."
"What don't you believe?"
"I don't believe you would throw what I did back in my face."
"Throw what, exactly?"
"I pulled strings to get you that interview, called in a few
favours."
"I'm sorry if you've been inconvenienced, but you must have
realised it wasn't my scene."
"So, we're back to that again are we, your insane ambition?"
"It's not insane; at least it's better than what you do."
"What does that mean?"
"It means you get paid a big salary for sitting at a desk telling
people how to invest their money."
"Well at least I have a proper job, I live in the real world and
I bring a wage packet home. You? You've been working at
this music thing for years and you haven't made a dime,
you're still strumming your guitar and busking on the
streets."
Read more >

46

The Stranger

I am a stranger here.
Who walks in the desert without a hat, or sunglasses and with a guitar? No Westerner in his right mind would do this. And they know, the people of the desert, I am a Westerner. Firangi they call me, the one with the pale colour. But looking at me, now with this sunburnt face, I wonder why they still call me that, pointing, making a face, running away. I care about it, because I walk the sands, looking for friends. But till now, the only true friend I have, is my music. My songs are my family. Yes, that is how it is. Do I feel sad and lonely? A stranger asked me that, looking at me and wondering. He walked some way with me. I told him, “No. I don’t feel sad and lonely. I have the heat of the sun on my shoulders, the chill of the night in my bones, the songs of my life in my veins. I feel quite alive.” That is what I told him and it is the truth. “I am a stranger here, looking for friends. Does that sound strange to you?” That is what I told him and it is the truth.
“No, he said, “Not strange at all. I am like you too. A traveling man, a singing man. This is my destiny, to find myself in strange lands, with music as company. Not strange at all.” He said this to me and disappeared.
I am not looking for him. I know who he is. He carries a guitar and he walks the desert. He is looking for friends.
47

Parched Ocean

(El Paso news: French couple dies at White Sands, boy survives)

Grains grated, gathered
sands stood still, watchers
of time passing
of motion slowing
of heat radiating
energy, hot, too hot
wide white hot
expanses too dry
to cross, too lonely.
Too feeble
to call for help
for her, for him.

North, South
unformed, unabashed.
East, West
ocean waves crashed
passion passed
motionless.

The child lives,
gone,
nowhere to go.
Now just
a ghost – muted,
morose, empty –
stirs the sands in
the frozen ocean
of death.

48

All strung out

Anyone else
would have mistaken you for a man
pointing
towards
the sky.

Maybe at a plane
or a cloud formation.

Maybe you'd seen the moon hiding in an unexpected place

and so with slightly open lips
you expressed just this:

'Oh'

or wait maybe you'd seen
a sun kissed and drenched rainbow.

Drip drip.

Yes, anyone else mistaken.

Only I know
that finger

has just started the movement you make

as you play me
one string at a time

Read more >

49

Deserted in a Dessert

I moved along with myself, deserted in a dessert. Had nobody by my side but my love, my guitar.. with dreams in my eyes and dusk on my shoes, I cross the narrow route, for the path that I have chose.
I know there will be bruises on the way, and I have to follow my vision without going astray. No trees to give me shelter, no winds to show me the way. All I have is the burning desire that satiates my hunger and the sunshine above my head, giving me the company of my shadow. It is going to be a long troublesome journey, but nothing has ever existed that can break the passion I have to make my own destiny.
For this path will lead to a beautiful end. Where I will rejoice the hardships that I had spend. Where I will be my best companion, who’s learned to fight for himself and make its own way and relish its own company, without any regrets, without a heavy heart, but only tranquility coming in to make home inside this chaotic soul.
50

You cannot see him. He is not there

You cannot see him. He is not there. What you see is a cut-out. A shadow puppet. Ink black unhinged limbs. A fake guitar. You look with dislocated eyes. Blinded vision. In the wrong place, wrong time. You’re out of line, in the wrong order. They sent him to the Dreaming: the space in-between day and night, past and present. Everywhere. He had the bad taste of gun grease from where the rifle slid down his throat one beer sour night. Yes. No. Should he? Shouldn’t he? He thought of his little sister. Knew she’d be sad, mad if he pulled the trigger, sang the song. They called to him, meet us in the Dreaming, in the land where the ancestors roam, in a network of dreams. They said, dot yourself in the geography, the locus of earth and sand. Draw burnt sienna on grey rock. Crouch in the desert with your brother, next to the snake where they made the sun. They said, to tell you: Stop looking. You cannot see him. He is not there.
51

The Song

Surrounded by inner chords
strumming steps along the open day
I'm tuned in to the beat, my heart
burning bright, like the sun at noon

- every step brings me closer and it takes me away too

Along sand dunes shaped like nothing
I have ever seen outside of me
The coast is clear and from the search,
the song, a new path will appear

and it branches out like Velvet Mesquite.

52

Moose

'It won't fall', he says. 'And if it does, you'll hardly feel it, it's light.'

Like the branch that scraped your head with twigs of blood in the backyard on the concrete you lay lost in the rays of a promised fecundity, you fell, the tree gasping.

'It's light', he promised, outlining your thigh with the tip of his nail bitten finger, along the ridge of bone where the mad things play with stability and tremor.

Not like the cricket ball that traversed your child hood sky, a shooting star of rubber, galaxy gremlin over hot bitumen, you in long socks and dresses made for pulling up. To the base of your neck it came to the bottom of your spine it moved, you made a girly squawk to mark the beginning of a journey set in stone.

'It's very light, made from ply board. Not like the hard stuff they used in the old days', he assures.

Unlike the bobcat munching on the roof, tiny shards falling from a demolition of memories in five seconds flat that overtook your hair in envelopes of words - a ghost dressed in black speaking in asbestos tongues.

'It's all so light', he whispers, towards dark possums scratching inside the walls, as soft sheets plaited with percale and threads that keep counting balance and yes it's true, everything is light: this leaving with no moving, this weaving of beige lies, this sticking to hope.

Read more >

53

For Archival’s Sake

The photo-shoot occurred on an absurdly hot day in January. He had never conceived that life could be this humid and barren during the time of year when he was raised building snow forts. The leather pants the photographer had insisted he buy were chafing, and he had sand at the end of his boots, in between his toes. There wasn't enough cell service to call home and complain to his agent, so he drafted angry emails in the trailer he was provided to change in.

Reggie, of course, was loving it. He wore a sleeveless t-shirt and didn't have to lug around an instrument, seeing as he was the singer of their band. He was sweating, but in a charming way that made Brad sick. He hadn't joined the band to take glamour shots in the desert, nor did he care to see how much media event like this inflated Reggie's ego.

He chain smoked cigarettes and offered up no more then three or four words to anyone that tried to speak with him that day. His dissatisfaction made him stick out like a sore thumb, and none of his bandmates asked him to join in their touristy shenanigans after the shoot was over. He sat at the foot of his stained motel bed and tried again and again to send his agent a message. He'd written a manifesto in his mind about the way selling out like this made him feel, and how he'd hoped the next gig he booked could be "real". He didn't mind that the checks would be smaller, he just wanted his integrity back.

Read more >

54

TWO GIFTS

Zareh says the vehicles'll burn for days.

"There's something rank in the plastics. Don't take in the smoke. Look around the edges instead."

Zareh says if the bombs don't burn you up, the smoke'll turn your lungs to jelly. We cover our noses and mouths and search for something worth selling on from the scorched and scattered remains.

The naked man I find on my edge is face down. Zareh says not to turn him over. It puts you off your searching, staring down at the things you can't miss frontways. Like burnt eyes and blackened privates glaring and swelling and baking to crust. You squint a little harder in the light and feel like your balls might burst in the heat. It's just blisters, bruises and mottled reds and yellows this way round. Nothing to put you off your searching or eating. Zareh kicks at the ears and says I should too. It's fun to beat on a grown-up for a change.

The blast took the man's clothes, everything bar the boots, too big for us to walk in and too gooey to warrant touching. Zareh says you've no time to think when they kill you with a satellite. No time to choose what to cast aside or what to hold on to or where to run. Everything on you breaks in the first moments and fans out around you like fingers. Money burns up and pictures have no value but our mottled man has gifts for each of us: a guitar tipped out from a broken carry-case and a gun buried barrel-down at the tip of the fan.

Zareh pulls the gun from the sand and looks it up and down from spout to stock. He walks over to the erstwhile owner and fires two shots into his blistered back. Read more >

55

Go, Darling

You couldn't stomach it, digest it.

Somewhere along the way you lost what you had in this world that's filled with sound and fear and no music.

One foot, then the other.

I wasn't angry. How could I be? You did the thing I couldn't, darling.

You took to the earth with your right to claim what was so silently taken from you.

One foot, then the other.

Out in the open, you cried for Life to speak to you like She once had.

Sick of words, you cradled your song, offering up your one gift to Life.

One foot, then the other.

Your fingertips hold the sound of your pain. I can still feel it on my face.

Your hearing is better out here, you may never come back. How could you, now you know She's got your back?

Get away from us fast and go to Her you must.
Find inside you your temple of trust
your agony, your ecstasy, your blood, your lust.
Sing out your soul until there's nothing but dust.

One foot, Darling.
then, the other.

56

Sad Soul Singer

Now as he stood above the rest,
His hands ready to make music, and soul to meet with others, he was alone.
With million eyes waiting for him, he was alone.
He remembered the last time he was here, he was jolly and the words came out like breaths, but today was different, he was all alone, he was naked, people were cheering for his skin and his heart was shutting all the doors with every passing second.
He was afraid, for he was lost. Among the crowds were his friends, were his lovers, with whom he had spent countless days but his heart was aching. For days he was thinking to start walking, to walk away from all this, to walk away to oblivion, as he was pushed from one concert to another, as he was pulled from from one airport to another, for he was full of all things others crave about.
He remembered the sex he had last night for it was definitely not love making. He lay and thought about his hometown the whole time as the motion become monotonous and rigid. He remembered the last time he snorted the drugs up in his system, for which started out as a tryout turned into a craving in no time. He was still high on confidence out of it.
He remembered the first heart he broke, the first record he broke, the first bike he rode and the first concert in which he choked. Read more >
57

Question mark

You walk.
Your feet leave a soft imprint
in the sand,
of where you were;
a question mark
ending with your big toe.
Who are you?
You walk,
as if to catch yourself
but the faster you walk the further away you are
from your beginning.

Your guitar
points to the ground,
a water diviner
in the desert,
a question mark.
Who are you?
One day you will catch up with yourself.
But for now
you walk.

58

Unamped

It's easy to find the reverb,
The ripples of bass,
If you stop, stoop and stomp
Your fingers longing for the cracks
That retch across the sands.
Sometimes I think I imagine it;
Head-level,
Hair toasted by the heat of the sun
My ear a shell,
Singing sweet nothings.
A lone voice, unamped.
Acoustic has romance
When there are people
In close proximity
To hear
You.
Now it's just me
The sand absorbing
Shaping your movement
Dreading the time
The ocean comes,
In raging
Destructive symphony.
59

The man who tried to stay

I have slipped beneath the sand
unseen for a short time.

Granule nudges granule
time to go, nothing lodges here.

Dunes hesitate for a while
then leave this barren place.

White crystals slide past my skin
an empty sky says not welcome.

No path to follow, the sun burns
my back waiting to suck my footprints.

A soloist walks alone.

60

The month of Columbus

August, named after the Roman emperor of course, one of the men who caused Cleopatra’s pain and she ceased to reign. Humidity and holiday, the last month of the summer, six weeks soon gone. Childhood memories of far off beaches, a bucket and spade, a cramped caravan, then back home. Plastic toy soldiers in the back garden, many still remain buried beneath the rockery like so many lost souls on the beaches in Normandy. But unlike them their souls never were and their bodies will always remain.

A t-shirt and a jacket ‘just in case’, the weather a blend of stifling heat and showers. Dark cloud materialises from nowhere, the threat of thunder, like an unexploded bomb, then in a moment... gone. August is a time of memories, some sweet, some lost in nostalgia, was it really that good? Was Margate worth the train journey? I remember when Bermuda shorts were all the craze and we were glad there were no more school days for a while. Then the dread of ‘back to school’, the adverts on the telly, stationery, the new uniform, pencil case.

Summers long ago, dandelion and burdock fizzy pop, pretending to be Huckleberry Finn, a toy Bowie knife, with a little imagination substitutes for the real thing and long grass where insects hide. Climbing over the garden fence to spend time with a friend and playing hide & seek at night amid shooting stars.

Summers are short, the weather is mixed, it’s a pity these things cannot be fixed, plans thwarted. Young Queens have left the nest to relocate, lay down the foundations of a new state, a hive, a colony. Read more >

61

The Little Prince

The tourists had gone. He had changed back into his ordinary clothes and left his didgeridoo at the hotel complex. Now was his time.     Listening to the rhythmic click of the insects and their evening chatter calmed him. He’d earned enough for another flying lesson. Soon he would be up there looking down on his home.
    He hadn’t flown at night yet, but that would come. He was a patient person. He knew that his name Allambee, which meant 'quiet place’, suited him well. You had to be still and free from anger living with the incessant buzz of flies, scolding heat and worse still the constant stream of eager faced people hunting for trophies to represent their holiday adventures.
    He often felt like a visitor from another planet. An alien being fallen from a distant galaxy to taste the red sandstone dust and experience the harsh reality of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa . Flowers only decorated the barren ground if it rained and they were scentless unlike the roses in the gardens of the big cities like Adelaide. A large brown Mulga snake slithered by, ignoring Allambee, in its pursuit of its evening meal unaware of the young man’s isolation, loneliness and dreams of other worlds.
62

Sable

Lost in the dunes, I see him again.
There he is – clear as day.
The boy with the bass
And then gone, in a ripple of heat.
So hot now, relentless, baking.
My run just a weary plod.
How did I get here?
This is no place for a Sailor.
No place for any man who loves water.
Just a ship of fools here.
Bravado fades as the world ignites.
No shield from the flame.
Reality finds you and there's no escape.
But what is real and what imagined?
I close my stinging eyes and run.
63

SOUND CHECK

Nero’s.
I know we’re stuffed as soon as I see the apostrophe shorting out.

Chairs stacked on tables. Maroon flock wallpaper. Sand blowing in under the doors. Thin girl passing a mop over last night’s spit-and-vomit.
Chris smiles. Winks. ‘Dressing room?’
She leans on the mop, snorts, jerks a thumb.
The passage smells of piss, the boiler room of vinegar and last night’s weed. We clear the cold chips off the table, unpack the instruments and squeeze onto the stage.

Wormy’s Little Brother is still humping in the speakers. He’s 14, skinny but keen, with a fondness for chemical highs and a reputation as a gifted but obsessive motor mechanic. Chris prefers him to Wormy Himself, who gets stroppy over his roadie cut and can never start the van first time.
Plug in. Feedback. Wah-wah not working. Lesley speaker somehow left behind in Croydon. Pete throwing a wobbler over a dented high-hat, Chris smiling his manager smile at a fat bloke at the bar. Fat bloke not smiling back.
Then the news. Not £100 each.
£100 between us.
Less drinks.
Chris laughs, slaps shoulders. ‘We can still make it work. It’s a gig, when all’s said. We’ll be all over the local press.’
‘You know what.’ Don stuffs a few heavy glass ashtrays into his jacket pockets, straps on his beloved Fender bass and makes for the door.
Chris stops smiling. ‘And where the hell d’you think you’re going? No play, no pay, matey!’
‘Sorry guys.’ Don hauls the door open. Sand and sunlight stream in. ‘Should’ve done this long ago.’ The door slams behind him.

Read more >

64

Grain of sand

Grain of sand.
In my shoe
I wear
the whole Universe.
You are just
passing through.
Pilgrimages.
Seeking a sacred place
in your head.
Peace evening
disrupted the flapping
of shadows wings
we are no longer together
people are still in love
I dream and wait...
wait...
Upset.
The rhythm of my heart-
out of tune
jazz orchestra.
How sad is that ?
65

Retreat

Sing it to the desert,
Son. Sing it to snakes.
Sing it to the vultures.
Sing it to the sandstorms.
Sing it to the darkness.
Sing it to the sunrise.
Sing it when your mouth dries
And you feel unstable,
Like the sand could tumble
Into an abyss. Then
Look towards the distance.
Feel the breeze as a kiss.
66

The Line

Just you and your bass and the black
shadow, the space you inhabit,
deep, down, bass – (it’s all about) –
A silhouette of you, that’s
all I ever know: the brand,
the unattainable,
the inexploitable.
You have a bass guitar in your arms,
not a child – that is the one,
still growing. And you
command crowds with the twist
of a finger, a bass, (how low can
you go) with the (sabotage)
shimmy of your hips. But you
and your bass-thumping (seven nation
armies) won’t control me.
The mirror of my
camera, bringing the noise,
will it be enough?
67

No Going Back

That last photo – Who was she?
Strumming alone,
The joie de vivre of busking solo.
Smile, before everything changes.
Grasp the final weekend of carpe diem!

Boom and bust girl, love life in monochrome,
Until symmetry is invaded by a Lacanian cut.
Who knew a gap would open.
The appointment set.
Scan scientifically and see
An invasive black shadow on white grains of sand.
Suture that Jaques!

No hay marcha atras,
Snap away - Postures held as machines clank.
The gaze of jouissance in wholeness.
Selfies galore and the clinical poses.

That last photo – Who was she?
Breathe in the sea-side air, play on the sand.
Capture a denial before a truth.
Defiance,
Because now the mirrors will reflect someone else.
Camera shy.
Asymmetry,
Hidden by an image in black and white.
A survivor,
Flagged by a small
Pink ribbon.

That last photo – Who is she?

68

Interpretations

I am not lost
I am not lost
Though my mind is getting there
Losing direction
I turn to the true compass
Always pointed inward
My expressions, amateurish
Are yet heartfelt
Keeping me on the road to growth

On this here road
I hitchhiked with years-long meditations
Until you came for me
I should have refused
But I was caught in the rhythm of my meditations
Looking for material that would explain my life’s song
So I accepted

We spoke not of my calling
Nor of my destination
Nor my route
You asked me to remain silent
So I did
Not knowing you were tuning in
To the song that followed me inside

You listened
While I grew fearful
For the first time, my song
In such raw form
Exposed to the likes of a non-friend
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69

HOW?

How did I come to this desert of despair?

How long shall I pray for the sun to set?

How long shall my guitar become silent without a song?

How many times shall I cry to the Heavens above?

How long shall I call on the God of Music to put a song in my mouth?

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