Friday, March 13, 2009

Poems for Music Lovers (& their iPods)

[Back when radio ruled the waves, the BBC, main tunnel from the world to Guyana, brought to our shores “Greensleeves” and Victor Sylvester. Lacking creole traditions like Trinis with Christmas parang, I longed to hear pop maestros of string instruments.

They sent down Cliff Richard, The Shadows, “Telstar”, well you know. And those cool girls from Jobim’s Ipanema. And dazzling 60s riffs by the Eagles and Jimi Hendrix. Those were the days Ravi Shankar turned sitar friendly.

Back then (I think) I heard Victor Uwaifo (“Guitar Boy”) four times, his scratchy Nigeria picks too many oceans far for channel shipping.

The good news is I found the tunnel’s end: on dials of the //www. Guitar music streams from every sunken port in the globe. Now I can watch Uwaifo’s video, “Guitar Boy”! the two barefoot dancing girls! his guitar licks couscous steamed in 70s highlife.

And hear this: what must be the gold coast of string harmonies rocks by the rivers of Mali, in the diamond fingers of (the late) Ali Farka Toure; Toumani Diabete.

Where were you all those years, guitar fathers? What trade winds blocked this young heart access to those kora waves, ces vieux jams? Radio Ghana. Desert moons. The faraway missed years.

Tunneling protocols, I know. Old pirates ♫] – W.W.

Emily’s Nectar, Pablo’s Guitar, Miles’ All

At the bottom of the sea,
a stone screams. At the stone’s heart,
silence spawns the blue word
the blue note, the blue blue.

(From “Fabula Rasa” by Brian Chan.)

Real Slow Jazz

Voices taking time to make
time feel

both tauter
and stretchier that we would

know from the limping clock,
the pace of the heart sure

beyond the need to run across
bridges of love, statements

of the tension between spark
and flame, spirit and flesh,

the tears of gods only men,
of men brimming with light.

(from “Fabula Rasa” by Brian Chan)

- (with Joanna Rychert, after Galcynski)

Death? You’re most welcome but

I’d give anything once
more to saunter through town
at last without a care,
humming Brahms’ first Ballade

under windows where fire-
flies buzz their own shocking
songs with perfect timing
and heart, lit from within

like floating rooms of light
which the noonday shadow
in men slowly invades
with ranks of solid ghosts.

What if it’s impossible
in my zigzag way to
give life some shape
as other, straight-line men do?

What if the world’s only
as green as girls baking
cakes and crows using fresh
sprigs to build old old nests?

(from “Fabula Rasa” by Brian Chan)

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