Bleach is civilization

July 12, 2013

It was a heat wave..Bleach is civilization.



I love Leonard Cohen but he doesn’t exist. What does exist is a mask. I love Bob Dylan but even his name is a fabrication. Like Zha Zha Gabor. (She must have made that up.) Kierkegaard created other voices for his ideas. And he was a philosopher, not a minstrel. Our whole notion of soul is a series of layers. Even the voice in our head speaks to us with an accent. So where is reality in all of this.




Staring at the blank canvas waiting for Beauty to rise, to pull back the sheets and show me her nakedness. I want to peel back the snow white gesso and feel her eyes on the tips of my fingers. I am the hunter, my brush a knife. I want to slit open the perfect belly of her goodness. But always there is a flash of light. The cameras of the paparazzi. Always Beauty on the event horizon. Waiting to show us her black hole. Always the tease. The stripper with the scent of the hunter on her. Eternal Return. Exploding into a new universe. Hiding in the jungle of experience. Camouflaged as reality. I put down my brush, paint sadly sliding off the ends of the bristles. I am sick of these little universes I create. I want to paint a stained glass window so perfect that I can smash the glass, look behind the shattered canvas and find the source of its light.

 Forgotten Lovers


America was in love

May 4, 2013


She was for a while the darling of American television. I loved her. She looked just like our neighbour. She was good natured, bubbly, down to earth, and funny. Very few people knew that she had suffered from polio. That she was a bit lame. She took a much younger man (Burt Reynolds) as a lover.

Dinah Shore


from my book The Saints of Jazz 

check it out.


Dinah Shore (February 29, 1916 – February 24, 1994)



1950s. From shore to shore. Dyed blondes. In suburban homes. Black bodies bobbing up in the swamp. Like apples in a barrel. Big frilly dresses. Puffy sleeves. In the golden days of the Pharaoh. When men drove Chevrolets. Women in church. Happy on their knees.



Every Sunday evening. Black and white laughter. Dinah and her lovers. In alphabetical order. Dinah loved Tarzan. And his jungle. A general named Moose. A singer and his jingles. The Cantabile Choir Of Kingston. A drummer. From the old school. Several actors named Jimmy. A cat. Who wanted to be President. And a red headed kid with buck teeth. And a head too big for his hat.



America had a new home movie. It was called the ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’. UFOs attacked the city of angels. Through the smog. And the alleys. And all their mighty ships were shot down. But no one could find. Where they had crashed. And Dinah kept smiling. Her ankles like a necklace. Throwing a kiss. Across America. To Ed Gein and his buddies down at Biff’s . To the nurse in the E.R. To the waitress on the graveyard shift. And all the little blondes. Watching Dinah. Cracking a joke. Singing a song. America was in love. With being blonde.


Screamin Jay Hawkins

March 30, 2013

I was introduced to this guy by a college friend, John Madigan. Screamin’ Jay is one of those wonders of the planet. There is no one quite like him. I don’t know how you sit down and write a song like this.


Voodoo Chile

March 29, 2013

This is such a wonderful version of a Jimi Hendrix tune….

96 Tears

March 29, 2013

One of the worst songs in the 70s. But it is catchy. Especially with pizza.

The first time I heard FEVER I must have been 13 or 14. That was one edgy song. I didn’t know if I should be listening to it. I turned around. My parents look bemused. Maybe they didn’t get it. My sister didn’t get it. She kept asking. “What’s she singing about?”

The illustration and poem below are part of a book called Saints of Jazz.

Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002)


Eyes can be beautiful. So gay and young. Peggy’s step-mother had eyes. As black as coal. As hard as iron. The back of her hand. Across Peggy’s cheeks. Don’t think your daddy is going to save you now.


Peggy sang for her meals. In small joints. With fast cooks. And red necks. And the chorus of bacon and burning violins. Peggy joined the dreamers. Dancing into heartache. To the City of Angels. Where children were begging to be born.


300 Dutch ice cream salesmen protested. The shortage of appetite. While their wives organized their socks. And ironed their shirts. And while the salesmen marched on the parliament. Shoes were left at the doorstep. Curtains closed in haste. And Peggy sang about the neighbourhood boys. Who risked their lives. To appease. The appetite of salesmen’s wives.


An airplane crashed into the Empire State Building. The pilot begged the mayor. It was an accident. And 1942. No one doubted that he was telling the truth. Until they found his plans. And sweet Peggy almost died. A fall in a New York hotel. She was tripped. At the top of a set of stairs. By a man with no legs. He leaked a secret. Don’t be in such a rush.


Peggy sang. Quietly. Her voice simmered. Everyone leaned. Forward. The waiters hesitated to wait. No one dared slam a door. In the kitchen. Or in the parking lot. In the hotel rooms. Lovers held their breath. If silence were a dance. Singing was a substitute for love.

Stupid and honest as a rock

February 2, 2013

Listening to Bob Seger. And working on a self portrait. So you’ll forgive me a little sentimentalism. While I was working on this piece I noticed something in his eyes. Distance. He was afraid. And confident. Stupid and honest as a rock. Had no idea what was ahead of him. Afraid of everything behind. All his sins were venal. Wasn’t proud of that. One thing. I miss him.

self portrait I miss you

No idea what he’s facing.

September 3, 2012

Just listening to Springsteen’s new CD. Big fan. I was inspired/drawn to write this song. In western music, the kind I like, there is a kind of resignation. At the same time there is this fight against the elements. Gary Cooper movies remind me of that. I think that feeling of resignation is in America now. Romney is trying to fight it. But he’s like the tenderfoot from the East whose got no idea what he’s facing. Obama is like the old doctor trying to save as many as he can. But fighting a losing battle.


Song: Henry’s Wife

I’ve been standing outside. The barns on fire. Its so hot. I shot that fire with holes. I can hear the horses crying. In my sleep. My blood feels cold. Maureen standing beside me. Looks so old.

I told Henry not to be smoking. When he was drinking. He must have passed out. I should have been here. But I was up at the house. Trying to break it off with Maureen. Henry’s wife.

They found Henry’s ashes. Didn’t make no sense. To bury him in the ground. So we just let him drift off in the wind. I hang around all day. Nowhere to be. Nothing to do. Don’t seem to be able to empty a bottle. Maureen seems relieved.


misgivings about the habit

August 23, 2012

This is another of the poems I wrote in my twenties. I must have had a real thing for westerns. Maybe it was those Clint Eastwood films. This poem looks like it has something to do with the apocalypse. But I don’t think I was going through a religious faze at the time. Of course I was drinking a lot. And carousing. And well, there were nuns around. Who had misgivings about the habit.






four riders dressed in white

came into our town late last night.

They had all no good looks

all looked mean

they did things to the darkness

no man has ever seen.


When they left

only their huff marks could be seen in the mud

and the deputy sheriff who was buried with a slug.


Nothing more was revealed


the sheriff’s son said he heard them speak

when he was hiding inside a chest

that the next time they returned

nothing would be left.


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