Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Neil Young: Thrasher

Neil Young has said "Thrasher" references Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the turbulence of the 70s. All I know is that it's fine writing, and that it elicits those sudden, firm, knowing nods when the music hits a chord.

They were hiding behind hay bales, 
They were planting in the full moon 
They had given all they had for something new 
But the light of day was on them, 
They could see the thrashers coming 
And the water shone like diamonds in the dew. 

And I was just getting up, hit the road before it's light 
Trying to catch an hour on the sun 
When I saw those thrashers rolling by, 
Looking more than two lanes wide 
I was feelin' like my day had just begun. 

Where the eagle glides ascending 
There's an ancient river bending 
Down the timeless gorge of changes 
Where sleeplessness awaits 
I searched out my companions, 
Who were lost in crystal canyons 
When the aimless blade of science 
Slashed the pearly gates. 

It was then I knew I'd had enough, 
Burned my credit card for fuel 
Headed out to where the pavement turns to sand 
With a one-way ticket to the land of truth 
And my suitcase in my hand 
How I lost my friends I still don't understand. 

They had the best selection, 
They were poisoned with protection 
There was nothing that they needed, 
Nothing left to find 
They were lost in rock formations 
Or became park bench mutations 
On the sidewalks and in the stations 
They were waiting, waiting. 

So I got bored and left them there, 
They were just deadweight to me 
Better down the road without that load 
Brings back the time when I was eight or nine 
I was watchin' my mama's T.V., 
It was that great Grand Canyon rescue episode. 

Where the vulture glides descending 
On an asphalt highway bending 
Thru libraries and museums, galaxies and stars 
Down the windy halls of friendship 
To the rose clipped by the bullwhip 
The motel of lost companions 
Waits with heated pool and bar. 

But me I'm not stopping there, 
Got my own row left to hoe 
Just another line in the field of time 
When the thrashers comes, I'll be stuck in the sun 
Like the dinosaurs in shrines 
But I'll know the time has come 
To give what's mine.

© 2013 L. Ryan

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Five Dollars an Hour

I've got the Neil Young of "Harvest" and "Comes a Time" in my head, impossible tasks at hand, and late night coffee on the way.  There's a heartfelt post waiting for the courage of a button-push that likely won't come.  In a majorly disappointing show of personal weakness, I've allowed people who toss around the word "love" and "God" as the predictable preface to condemning me to those warmer climes of fire and brimstone into my space, even into the holy interstices.  More personal weakness -- I fed the "love/God" Trolls.  These Trolls are already overweight, either in body, in malice, or in avarice, so I did at least limit their kibbly treats to low cal, tartar control, high protein pork products.

What has their "love" and public references to "God"schtuff taught me?  Well, there is the reminder that stress is terrible for CRPS, and derails my neverending efforts to control soma with psyche. It might be better put to say this instead of alluding to "control": Nothing can squelch my ardent desire for soma and psyche to so ardently entwine as to fog the view from these formerly sparkling big baby browns.

Actually, the glaucoma meds have these neat side effects!  No, not the itchy, redness and blurry vision, you jokers!  The double ring of beautiful greens that now surround my previously ordinary iris of backroad mud.

If you've never indulged, indulge -- take a look at your iris in a hand mirror.  It's a thing of beauty, no matter if brown, blue, or some exotic blend.  There are feathers in there, and light.  Infinity. The iris of a living eye puts the most masterful kaleidoscope to shame.

This will sound morbid, and for the longest time the memories were used in morbid fashion against me by that previously mentioned actor, psyche, but if you ever are with a being as life leaves his body, keep talking, and keep watching the eyes.  They are always beautiful and they always fade, sucked inward, subsumed, gone, at the moment of true death.  Keep looking as long as the situation allows, for the iris remains beautiful, and a marker, worth remembering.

In any event, maybe I just wanted the distraction of Trolls -- they're easy; they're stupid; they feed that misguided sense of "mission." Anything to avoid thinking about whom and what matters.

I don't think I've published this poetic effort before.  Don't much care because it brought me joy and back into contact with, as just stated, that which matters.

It was written "for" an unimportant poetry contest about three years ago. There was a time when my brother Bob ("shrink, tunors, shrink!"), my stepsister, and I were, all three, of "babysitter" age. Our dad was in Vietnam and, sad to say, that was the happiest year of our lives. The street we lived on -- off base, in civilian freedom for the first time ever -- was full of fun, young families. A big need for babysitters!

My sister and I earned a fair amount of spending money as run-of-the-mill, adequate sitters, but you know who everyone really wanted? Bob! Six foot four, a pony tail, and a kid magnet. The softball games he organized after dinner were the stuff of legends. A fielding position for everyone in the neighborhood, a turn at bat that always produced a play, if not a run. Sudden new rules!

He would pick up toddlers, carry them over his head and run them around the "bases" -- a telephone pole, the fender on The Rabbi's station wagon, the Smith's holly bush, and all the way to someone's front door home. He cooked, he cleaned, wore everyone out (clientele or not), and even groomed pets. I used to stay awake, waiting for him to come home and turn his evening into a bedtime story. I remember falling asleep to the soft cadence of "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..."


Five Dollars an Hour

My brother Bob was the most popular sitter,

the Vicar of Fitzgerald Street,

as baseball runners coasted home, zig-

zag tagged lamp posts, car bumper bases,

magic places, all, triumphant!

Hitters held their crouch,

proud of his boast of "way to watch

the ball, there, buckaroo!," suburban

cowboys and girls, night's gloam

softened even in Baghdad, believing

beloved and loving because of his six

foot four, pony-tailed dominion

over locusts and Pentecost.

The birds, most house sparrows, moved

stumbling, criss-cross clawed and closer

to his soft "hey, batter,

hey, batter" banter poise of noise,

to roost and erase the day's

gateposts, attacks, door

posts, counterattacks, lacy graces,

and atlases with their gridded ghosts.

Because Bob was big and strong, scooping

gurgle-bubble babies, carried directly

from danger straight into fun [aloft! the roosting

birds approved with rustles!], to dunk them

in bathtubs and sinks, have them dreaming,

scrub-dub, of outrageous happy endings

to farflung bedtime stories

begun before tater tots,

strumming guitars through broccoli

-- "the giant's shrub" -- and after asking,

"Are the pets all fed?" -- it was off

to bed, exhausted, safe, fear quashed,

memories of catching, hitting, chasing

balls, and phrases of soft praise.

Monsters and thieves ran fast away

when Brother Bob flew front doors open:

Dismayed and afraid -- though a few came to stay,

reformed by joshing scoffing and the fun

of washing cookie sheets and tossing

foil wrap in the trash, "Three pointers!"

But then they'd loiter, unsure, until by his pied

piping, terror's buffer, they slipped, too,

far from suffering, ushered, sliding into dreams'

home plate, like cloud cover, while he surveyed

the kitchen, stowed the butter,

and swept the floor. Big-handed

tender, he was the favorite, too,

for brand new babies, newer-than-new

preemies, who soaked the august promise

of sun, chrome fenders, and one-

day line drives from his slender fingers.

I would wait at home to hear the tales

of naughty boys and bawdy daughters,

dogs that nipped and cats that scratched,

or -- giving up all that -- I would

wait at home for my turn, my viewing,

my comfort at his comfort, my turn

at his standing tall, the flash of

his "I know you" smile,

his "What are you doing up, kid?"

My beloved own once-in-a-while,

never bitter sitter...

© 2013 L. Ryan

VETERANS DAY REPOST: In Honor of Lieutenant Colonel "Wild Bill" [USAF]

originally posted 3 July 2012


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

[reposted from July 3, 2012]

My father died last night, apparently, and all I can think of, at the moment is the first line of Camus' L'Etranger, one of his greatest, but beyond absurd in my situation.  And so, of course.

I cannot get hold of an actual obituary but I assume that my blood relatives wouldn't lie to me about a thing like that.  But I've been wrong before, and it's a crazy bunch.

So -- for him, the pilot, I offer "High Flight," which I believe was posted here just recently, for some eerie reason.

What's eerier?  A few nights back, I dreamt that the man gave me his watch.  It was not a Rolex.  Not even a Timex.  Just bulky and silver, with lots of do-dads on it.  That was it.  The extent of my dream profundity.

I had to go to the Infectious Disease doc's place in spite of the colonel's death, and it turned out my temp was a bit over 101 and that my blood work from last week sucked.  They drew blood cultures, stared at my staring eyes, and sent me home.  I'm screwed -- normally, I don't answer the phone.  Now, because of the colonel and the ensuing phone-yappers, I will also have to deal with the medicos who love to telecommunicate.  In short, the infection seems to be beating the crap out of the antibiotic.  "The one antibiotic we have left," El Infectious Disease Doodaloo reminded me.  He's a sweet guy.  One day, I'd like to sit out at a café, and I know the one I want, very Tuileries, very Café Renard, and have a beer with him.

One night, my father picked me up from a late baby-sitting job. I was in high school.  We lived sort of out in the boonies, on a lake, and he was an avid amateur astronomer.  There was a meteor shower.

We set up lawn chairs and watched the shooting stars.

When men walked on the moon, he and my brother-unit Grader Boob successfully convinced me that I could see the men through our backyard telescope.  They had me giving excited descriptions of all their lunar activity.  Have we discussed my gullibility much here on the blog?

I hope for him -- the after-death is flying, flying, flying... occasionally flipping his plane to smoothly bisect the space between silos and chimneys... a claim of his I always believed, mostly because I saw some other Fly Boys laugh and nod, ascots never askew.  Fighter pilots are grace-blessed nuts.

My thoughts are with his beloved wife, Margaret, his daughter Kathryn, and her son, his grandson, Brian. His sister Nancy, too, and brother Jim. Mostly, though, I am thinking of Tumbleweed and Grader Boob, his Good Sons.  

He's to be buried, I guess, tomorrow, Sunday, at 3 PM, with military honors.  I  guess that means an honor guard, a presented flag, salutes.  Were I there, I'd raise a scotch, and remember stars like bullets, his caring for his own aging mother and father, his love for a certain cock-a-poo, and the bevy of air evac nursing personnel who loved to scream out "Heyyyy, Wild Bill," whenever they scooted by in a jeep.  He flew many a mission, low over Cambodia, no lights, to rescue the wounded and bring them to Clark for medical treatment.  He also dropped a lot of bombs, and deforested with Agent Orange.  He lost, I was told, two barracks of men in a bizarrely successful nighttime shelling at Phan Rang.  He liked the album Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.

But then, too, he adored Herb Alpert.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Just wow: "Lay Lady Lay," Keith Jarrett Trio

I long to see you in the morning light
I long to reach for you in the night
Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead

© 2013 L. Ryan