Saturday, January 4, 2020

Intro to a 3O page prose homage to #DavidBerman

Intro: August 2O19

I’m trying not to step away from the circus…
Some need to do it privately, insofar as Facebook is private
& I know the Data marketers are very interested in how
they can sell products and politics to the grieving…

Often, when solitude turns loneliness, I forget 
my actions do have an effect on others….care
Others knew you better, and more intimately…
& I can’t hang out & talk to the funeral folks—
except Laura—because I fear their judgment
that I was a bad influence…

& after a 48-hour social media fueled
turbulent spilling out over the sides
one may seem to arm oneself in stoic detachment
to invoke the connection in the solitary shallows
over the pretzel and chip social connection
research not the phases of grief
but the many different styles or does a baby’s
kick in the womb feel like a punch in the gut
and I loved the woman who posted a video of her slow grief dance
another tried to save one from aversion to pimping or performing
another to overcome the disgust of grading coz he’s great teacher—

& I don’t know if I would’ve ever become a fan had I not been a collaborator
& I don’t know if we would’ve ever become friends had we not been fans
but I don’t think I can separate the friend from a protective skepticism about legacy
and I don’t think there’s any way to talk about you without talking about me
& I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to talk about me
without talking about you…..from the outside in, mediated by art….
fearing there’s no way not to reduce you to a stick figure…

Empathy has many strategies
                & while some dabble, 
                          you dove…
                 into the muck of me, illusion’s
slim solidity
               in that old pink 
t-sheet you gave me,
                  & despite the effort of my tears,
not living up to the word “peace”
                   doved onto my chest
does it understand the passion
as much as the sermon & the works?
         The way love beyond cynicism
                                  makes room for cynicism
             I, in the aching
                                    space between ring & bird
the other hand,
                                    so worried to offend
being lost so much
                                              yet still afraid to lose…
I swear my confusion
                                    doesn’t cancel out
                                                                 the suicide prevention folks
if I want to boldly cry—
                                               you taught me
                                               you teach me
sick of the stigmas
                                   literally physically sick—
or the synapse
that wants to make you
                                             laugh & not
                                                                        necessarily away
the pain….
                              see, but there again,
                                                                           your voice
                                me down, and, besides
                                                                            we got others
to talk to
“we are not monsters” 
                                     and the alliterative beauty of Lundy Lake
 can reassure you’re better than ever, 
                                                having already cast off the Bardo
so you can jump right into the deeper waters of the work….

fellow introvert! you usually knew me 
                        better than I knew myself: “give yourself 
a break from analyzing the meaning of tears”
                 you turned me on Iris Dement’slet the mystery be…
& if you need me to let you go, 
                                            I swear I’m working on it…
While some speak of the party animal of 92, 
I speak of the private public intellectual
while some speak of the mental illness, 
or, perhaps more mercifully,
 the emotional illness biochemical—
I speak of the sleepy soulful, emotional
introvert, the moral conscience, scientist
of pain and suffering---death
empathy, hours spent emailing fans….
                           only one
                           who stood
by, with, 
                   me in that time
fellow restless right brained
                       of moral and aesthetic
crosshatched with
                       personal & systemic
minor league culture workers…
                            trial and error….
shared overlapping
               despite how some 
shared 2O18 looked back, cries
& laughs & cries as if humbled
            &/or broken by
our attempted
         manic messianic missives…

So let them speak of your ‘leap of faith’ 
or exclaim “he finally figured out that hard equation
on a chalkboard in an algebra class for ghosts!”
“It wasn’t so much that he went off the grid
as that he couldn’t keep up with it,” or DJ 
Charlie Varick at 3:5O on August 29th:
“& before ‘Margaritas at the Mall” we heard
“Get Yourself Together” and if David Berman
had gotten himself together, he’d be on tour now.”
Let them debate on whether you wanted to be famous again
or whether you felt it was your duty---
Let the white male guy project his own toxic masculinity onto you.
I want to speak of the correspondent’s workaholic kindness,
even when “doing nothing,” doing something, 
someone who may, at worst, may have erred on the side
of loving me more when I’m down than when I’m up—
but I wouldn’t call that an err in a world in which most
seem to love only when we’re up and in….
or screw the spatial analogy…the soft rock at the salad bar
                                                   “consumer freedom!”
& if you need me to let you go, 
                                             I swear I’m working on it…

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

16 Facebook Likes Can't Be Wrong! Stroffolino releases first album in 6 years..

Audition 4 A Practice People Place
                                                [or 15 Songs of Goodbye, 1 Song of Hello]

Someone asked me to post the lyrics to the new album, and though I don’t think my song lyrics stand up on the page like my poetry, or essays, and I want to call more attention to the—to me pleasing—sounds my amazing collaborators helped me get, I guess it’s okay if you’ve already heard it---so here goes...

Maybe I was something, something that you knew
Maybe I was someone, someone that you knew

Cold Frisco Rain 

So soulless & barren, these specs I’ve been wearing    
& I learned to love sublime trouble’s art game
but too much male company could almost make a Trump of me
I’m Oding on testosterone in the cold Frisco rain

Differently abled, cis-het needs for some stable
Old man defenses, a moth fearing flame
I love how you study me, though you’re cheating with my past on me
And the holes in my ceiling love the cold Frisco rain

You were the only one who made me feel I could fit
When I was too down & out to be called eccentric
& you saw right through the brand I stumbled onto
That read “Unemployable, schizophrenic tool!”

You circle around me, I’m so glad you found me
And it looks like your bed is wider than my brain
You got me relearning, the lost art of yearning
Though the year’s called bipolar in the cold fiscal rain…

Do you need a reader more than a lover?
I want to be both but I’ll unsettle for one
& if you don’t need encouragement, (then) what kind of nourishment
Can I give you when closure melts in the warm Oakland sun?

Via Negativa

The placelessness of longing meets a field of memory
As water meets an ice-cube tray, and free verse isn’t free             
& I’ve got a whole lot of nothing saved up for you
Nothing behind this, nothing to hide this today

A bird is not a berry; a beach is not the farm;
I love the space between them, Like your head between my arms
Ah, Via Negativa turns me on
Nothing behind this, nothing to hide this today

& I need a better dialogue song
Where you point out all the ways I am wrong
& the only judge that matters sides with you   

Relationships are more important than identity
So who are you to say (that) you are not what they see
And you know that all those dreams have gone astray
& it’s kind of liberating till the past gets in the way

& I tried to take the spotlight off me
& shine it on those I couldn’t see           
While paying for the fun I thought was work  

But nothing can be neutral, nothing can be new
Nothing’s an improvement on cake and eat it too,
Even if sweet nothings can turn sour
But yeah I love your nothing like your pathos loves your power

Can You Tell Me What’s Real?

Some people take comfort in darkness & masks
That’s probably where I went wrong
Did I turn the heart off so I could turn on the mind?
What soothes ain’t the words, but the song
Addicted to subtle discussion
 I was tying & untying knots
That was before the concussion
A forest with no trees can rot

You lie in the shade, and I lie in the sun
There’s a line on the blanket between
We cross it to hug that’s more like a massage
Like the best of both worlds in a dream
I hope that’s what both of us needed, 
Do you know how grateful I feel?
Did we meet beyond (the) medication?
I don’t know, can you tell me what’s real?

You said you needed more than one night a week       
Then too much when we tried to do two
& for a few years that was perfect for me
Could I go 3 for somebody new?
It don’t have to be rigid vanilla
Can flexibly be set in stone                 
Do you still need a less-is-more fella?
Are you really less lonely (when you’re) alone?

Crazy Uncle       
He wonders if she…….. still has contempt for TV
Or if her favorite subject’s         African history  
Maybe she could turn him on to her favorite songs
Just like he did with    his sister who’s her mom

He loves to read                    her poetry
 At least the 2 that her mom let him see
And he wonders what is wrong with me
I think my niece is afraid of me!

Ah, maybe he’ll never, ever, ever, ever, never fit
So he tries his best,                    not to think of it
But even though he’s               3000 miles away
A crazy uncle is a role      he thinks he could play

He tried to write her        a children’s book
But he kept using words like ideology
But he swears he’ll shut up & let her talk
Even if his workaholic friends call that lazy
And even though                  she’s only 14
She’s more an adult         than he’ll probably ever be 

He’s trying to              imagine the worst, 
& be more patient than a marriage hearse
I bet her mom has told her, about the fallen soldier 
A destructive need to create
Even while sleeping on steam grates

Maybe who knows he might get to teach at her school
And she’ll heckle better than a Shakespearean foole
So he’ll be patient, it’s a reason to live
& maybe he’s even got something to give  

Can you hide your heart up & on your sleeve? she said maybe, maybe
Are you most honest when you leave? She said maybe, maybe
And even if I’m not the one,
Your afterglow warms like the sun
But then the next day it brings water
& the mother trades places with the daughter 
Whatever that means!

Is confession a cleansing wishing well? Maybe, maybe
Must you break a heart to break a shell? Maybe, maybe
& now I’m feeling kind of empty
Like I did before you met me
Better to err on the side of caution
It’s not like it has to be an auction….
Unless you say so!

Thought I was loving but didn’t think, oh baby
Then thought my way out of love, baby oh baby
It was hard for them to come together
But I swear I’m getting better, 
If it’s not too late…

Die Alone
Were we (just) drawn to each other’s darkness?
Will we ever figure out who left who first?
Did your brilliance, your beauty & your kindness
Warm me for more winters than I probably deserve?

& forgive me if I couldn’t be a father
I’m not so good at telling children no
Got a homesick ex-New Yorker’s
Love-hate fling with wider skies
To put the almost back in losing all control

& I guess we’re both survivors, 
& I love the way you wear your scars
& I wonder if, by the time I get to Venus, 
Will I find you AWOL trying to clean up Mars?

& if I desecrate what can’t be spoken,
A spirit before meaning that you’ve woken
A distant kind of love that can’t be broken,
Does that mean we have to die alone?

& they say that madness is contagious
But your troubles could recuse me from my own
You calmed me down, by letting me try to calm you down
But I feel I’ve been relapsing since you’re gone 

Effing Hummingbird
I saw a efff-ing hummingbird today
It flew onto my windshield while I was stopped at a red light     
& darling darling darling it was green, 
&, no, it wasn’t eff-ing. It was shaky, & I feared that it would die
But I don’t think it wanted to die
Coz as the light turned green I saw it fly
& I shouldn’t call her it. She wanted to say hi, & rhyme it with goodbye
I caught a crumb of melody she left
Like she became my conscience I can’t shake off but to praise
& of course she made me feel and think of you               
& the scars I call myself dissolve
Tangled in umbilical cord
Blue pounds like a minor chord, asterisk, exclamation surf!
If only I can give you something right….you can need

Some say if a vision comes at once
You need more time to digest or is this an excuse   & you
& you write better than me, I was dead before we met
But I won’t put you on a pedestal if that means that I’m not worthy of an eff
& if we never really met, I guess it’s possible you never left

In The Flood 

More within                     less without         
Is this calm?                      Flattened out?
You can’t cry,             you can’t come
Where’s the light?               where’s the drums?
And we lose each other in the flood,
It’s just a night on the town

Blame myself,                   blame the drugs
Blame what blames,        hug the hugs
Feed the past,                  come too late         
Did all my love                leave with my hate?
A minor brings out A major’s inner child
Repression runs kind of wild

Fear to bring kids         into the world
Is that the worst           ever been hurled?
But one of us must think it is love…oh, oh, oh
Yeah, one of us must think it is love…oh, oh, oh
…. One of us must think it is love…

Double Life                
You were there in        the aftermath
Of a failed attempt      to make you laugh
Is it better to try    and fail to make you cry?

You know I wouldn’t      have been upset
If you’d told me ‘bout     those guys you met
It might have saved you years of holding in the pain

Twisted fantasies,          of how you perform
Am I a pervert               if it turned me on
And if you are not jealous some say that it isn’t love
“No no no no no….” “no no no no no….” 
“No no no no no….” “no no no no no….” 

Now you’re crying, and I try
To find some magic word to shelter eye to eye
Now that you told me, you were living a lie
Does it really have to mean goodbye?

Friends say I got,             no self respect
But you put up,          with years of my neglect
Cheating on you with my job, my art
Like it’s some kind of wife 

If I had been better at meeting your needs
Had I not felt my thoughts became deeds
Maybe you wouldn’t have felt     you had to live a double life        
“No no no no no….” “no no no no no….” 
“No no no no no….” “no no no no no….” 

Song For David

You were my nearest long distance introvert friend
When I was most down & broke you taught me to bend
You knew how to speak from the soul as much as the heart
With good mothers & bad dads
You were the brother I never had
& if this is grief, are tears sad                 
Or more like gratitude?
Should I follow suit?
Can a tambourine trick trauma
Or am I just a lame excuse?                     
& yeah I’ll praise your righteous truths
You did so much more than the smug who put you down

Can’t let you go, I’ll let you go…  
Can’t let you go, I’ll let you go…   
Can’t let you go, I’ll let you go…   
Can’t let you go, I’ll let you go…   

Standard & Poor

Standard & poor, standard & poor
The truck goes the way of the train.
Standard & poor, standard & poor
The middle class has gone down the drain
The middle class has gone down the drain
I’m not a techie so I don’t have a brain!

Crosshatched Class War (feel free to argue with a beat)            

I read about the cold war at the north pole
Countries fighting for exclusive control
Each melting glacier means more drill baby drill!
Another bubble for the bubble hill
Who needs drowned continents of the poor
On tropic Greenland in this crosshatched class-war?

Meanwhile monopolies fire & merge
Divide and conquer, global fascist surge
But TV says blame poor immigrants
& vote for landlords known for raising the rents
Live vicariously through a superhero whore
To distract us from this crosshatched class-war

A merger of the corporate person & state
Which one is worse, comes up for debate
Big pharma music on a plate of big tech meat
Which one is easier to defeat?
You voted for Obama, Bush, Trump or Gore
But did that help you in this crosshatched class-war?

It’s culture, gender, race as much as class
Can you free your mind if you can’t say ass?
I failed to hook musicians up with activists
But even so I’m on an FBI list
Am I reductive like an either/or
Robbing the hood in a crosshatched class-war?

Can strikes & boycotts crush Big Prison, Big Food?
Does climate change make liberation moot?
Work in the system, as well as outside
Is it even possible? I’ll let you decide
Are my needs like oil spilled on your shore,
If I’m trying to make peace in this crosshatched classwar?

Punk Funk Old Folks Home

If the soul’s that TV in your bedroom
Don’t shoot me if I got a need for costumes
You know my authenticity
Probably more than me,
Can I ever say exactly what I mean?

Have I become a solitude addict?
The root or the effect of my worst habits?
Sick of all the drama kings
& the trauma in their careless flings
Would I rather be your sidekick than the sea?

What do you want?
Punk Funk old folks home
What do you get? What do you get?
You can play drums & I’ll scream my lungs out     
Maybe we’ll kiss, maybe we’ll kiss

While you were taking your 401K—precautions
I was wondering why they call them precautions
Like there can’t be true caution
Unless we’ve plotted and schemed
So you can have the mike, if I can have the tambourine?

What do you want?
Punk Funk old folks home
What do you get? What do you get?
You can play drums & I’ll blow my brains out     
Maybe we’ll kiss, maybe we’ll kiss


If I could afford a will, what would I bequeath?
Plasma, bone, or liver, or my 12 surviving teeth,
A search for moderation that’s been known to be extreme
One year mourn a militant, another an aesthete….
I don’t know________/__________/___________

A lack of etiquette could blame the metal in my knee
Did nature deprivation cause it, or last night’s gluten tea?
In this one friends are fighting, and I couldn’t come between
Here’s 5 where I lack follow through, 15 where I’m too mean
I don’t know, must I expose it….?
Yes or no, just to depose it?

Did I compromise too much for people, then push them all away
Then sing a lonely phoneme song about words become clich├ęs       
“Your picture for a frame,” he said, “your poems for critique”
Spent years building a megaphone, but forgot how I should speak?
& I ran….

It’s too late now for planting, but too early yet to reap
Was I so goddamn woke that I could do it in my sleep?
Is getting deeper good, is it despair & fall apart
& if all life is suffering, what the frack is art?

And I ran---from something, or was it running---towards something
Neither from nor to, but in the moment running, now I sit…


The wisdom of insecurity
Can it hold up in a perma-temp economy
Is it okay to act like a kid
If you wind up in ER for trying to act your age in talk & prose…..
(talky) hey, don’t hide the beast
I wonder……I wander

Oh office romance, 
it’s hard not to avoid it, with the rate of unemployment
Do you gotta be a corporation to be a person?
Well, even if you’re not, I love you

Hey, uh, what’s your name, I’m kinda new here, kinda guest
& I’m shy, or skeptical, a tunnel or receptacle 
& I’ll try----not to block your view
Unless you secretly want me to

Ave post-desperada, are you the sky my spirit circles in,
The love in love, the resurrection place,
You know my coins are counterfeit and yet you take them anyway…