Sunday, March 21, 2010

Modern Magic

This is not a poem about all of me. It is a poem about a part of me. This part of me held sway for awhile…Dances With Words. I was smart enough to not attempt the thing I did with music though, thinking music would somehow save me.

I remember how that was, how I would go to the coffee house and Paul Zeigler would be singing and I learned all his stuff because I wanted so desperately to be him. I sat there night after night and learned his repertoire, not only the basic song but his phrasing.

That desperation was the source of the determination I had to learn the guitar, so I could be him. I got there. I did it. I still didn’t have his life and knowing his music didn’t work for me. I was blocked. I had powered my way in and pushed past the tough parts and I was at professional grade in the things I did know. There was a universe of music I knew little about. I realized I would have to deconstruct and start again. I didn’t have the stomach for it.

I had worn my guitar out, literally. The frets of a brass alloy needed replacement because the steel strings over six years of intense work had worn grooves in them. I had torn the finish off the face of my guitar around the pick guard learning to use a flat pick. My cigarettes had burned a couple holes in the guitar finish too.

I put the guitar down. Back when Frances fixed my guitar for me, in gratitude, I picked it up and recovered the music to a point. I started learning new things too. But I had the keyboard and that is what I work with now. During that time I had returned to singing in a church choir, how I met Frances and through all that began singing in community college choirs too. We had the opportunity to sing with professional orchestra and the Christmas program was challenging and wonderful.

The point is I forced it and believed I could turn into something I am not and in the end it caused me to walk away from the music for decades.

Now these poems come from Dances With Words but I know better. When I began blogging a blog friend called me Johnny Applepoem because I was dropping poems into the comment sections of other people’s blogs all the time.

Modern Magic

I chase the learning,
modern magic of this age,
the incantation
in the deep of me
rising out of my hunger
to know all, all, all.

I believe words will
save me despite all the wounds
of my raw old life.

So I dance with words,
with so many pages, forms
in the teeth of things.

April 26, 2009 9:44 PM


  1. Music is a funny thing, so many wish to have this gift...the full of it...but I think it a fickle mistress. She truly lends herself to but a few. The rest of us can toil 'til fingers are stubs and frets and keys have worn weary with our trying. Now, I try not to give to her...rather I just take what she gives. We are a happy couple.

  2. Annie, I have hung around people who truly have not only the gift but the life. They are indistinguishable from the rest of us in all but the ways of music itself. I think in my case and in other cases too, I had a fantasy. The reality is more like the talents and skills I bring to my work life and the musicians bring it to theirs. There is an added mystery perhaps, but I doubt it. Instead it reveals the challenge.

    So much comes from the mastery of the combinations of twelve tones and their octaves and the special demands of the strings, the voice, the reed and valves, the keyboard and all the rest.

    Life is mystery. Find it where you are. I also shall find it where I am. I think that is what you are saying about you and music now, that you are finding the mystery where you are.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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