Daily Archives: April 9, 2010

The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good

I can make it work, I swear.
I’ve seen others do it.
There’s no formula.
There’s not a reason in the world for me to fail.
Talent’s just a word for ambition easily realized.
Work is the balm for the wounded ambition.
I can make it happen.
Everyone does something well.
The oak tree makes great acorns.
The octopus is the ink master.
The dimples on the golf ball are its perfect expression.
I can be the best of what I am.
The work will make it stick out.
The blank page is the best prod to capture the fullness.
A single word well placed is smarter than a key.
There are inherent risks in being a master.
Stalling is the crucifixion of the divine nature.
Denial of the passion of the art is blasphemy to the Godhead.
A work of art is the gruff shovel that opens the grave of the revenant.
I can be the digger of movement.
I can sweat the devil’s coat seams.
I can do this.
Talent is a word for the blood of a prophet.
Denial is a misdirected nut fallen on bare stone.
Divinity is just an excuse for the acceptance of failure.
I can’t do this.
There’s no formula.
There’s a reversal spell that could be written.
I can’t imagine the dialect of such a wizard.
I can’t make work of what is best explained through talent.
I have no talent in the face of my demon inkmaster.
I have no answer for why the pen breaks.
I am no master
and no teacher
and no student of the way
and I park the ass that Mirabai refused to ride
in front of my house at night
to await the slog to the failure mines tomorrow.

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Punk Ghazal For Malcolm MacLaren

What you played with, Malcolm, was our long-established expectation.
We had believed we understood the game.  You changed our imagination.

It was not always pretty, whole, or even moral;  you pushed Sid into his grave.
We extracted romance from his shattered sneer and poisoned imagination.

When I heard them first I was transformed. I fell into their distorted arms.
You certainly stood by and cackled at how you’d exceeded your own imagination.

Of course, you did not know me by name, but I’m sure my type was familiar to you.
You counted on the magnet of filth to pull in the starved rock imagination.

You pulled the string, the easy marks danced, we discerned truth from seeing them.
Did selling bondage gear stifle the leap we made past your imagination?

Did you foresee how quickly we’d free ourselves through your grand swindle?
Did you foresee me, or a million Tonys like me, recreating your imagination?

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The Promoter Looks Back

Shaved for battle,
they used to say,
those bullet boys
with the rippling ink
and the no-quarter eyes.

Where are they now? 
I used to see them at all the shows.

All we wanted was hardcore and metal.
We knew the attendant politics would follow
but we thought we could steer the noise to safety.
We hired a bike gang
to keep the kids safe
from their warfare
and it mostly worked.

One night I ended up
rescuing a scrawny little racist
from the bikers
and drove him home to Clinton
where he and his brothers in arms
rented a farm.

On the way he told me
how it had started in Miami
where he was beaten daily
by Cuban kids
until he found the Hammerskins
and their cradle of white.

I told him I was of mixed race.
And I asked him how he felt about me.

He paused a long time and said,

“I still think it’s wrong.”
And then,
“I know that’s bad, but…yeah.”

Shaved for battle he was,
and his head shone in the moonlight
as he walked from the car to the driveway.

I did not wait to see if he waved,
throwing gravel as I spun out of the driveway
into the quiet road.

And I never saw him at the shows,
ever again.

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Rocking back
on his heels
the boy watched her
do a split on the rec room floor
and thought about things
he’d never thought before:

in a split second, then,
history he’d been learning
and biology he’d not known
began to kick in, and he manned up
in exactly the manner expected
of a boy his age.

Do you recall
your own split second,
that instant when the switch flipped on
and you were switched on
so that a current flew through you
from someone standing across a room or a yard?

Did it flash upon you as expected
by all around you, or were you suddenly alive
and confused at once because
it didn’t mesh with what you’d been told
would happen?  And – how are you now —
is that a good memory?  Have you

told anyone?  Met anyone who shared it?
Go ahead and speak of it.  You weren’t wrong to feel it.
Wrong is a label we apply too easily.
It keeps us from speaking up, looking
for the source.  From finding the outlet
that will light us. 

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Just Another Guitar

It’s the stains under the strings
that make a guitar a guitar.
I’ve always read those stains before I bought one

but this one — a new guitar —
has none.  It’s up to me to sully it.
Up to me.

That magic name from Nazareth
on the headstock means nothing
if I can’t make it heard.  “Martin”

is just a spell without power
if a magician never learns its secret language;
it’s just another guitar.  Another one

in the collection.  A trophy
won without having been played for.
A symbol of consumption.

Having isn’t doing, isn’t being.
I play it now while thinking that I own a Martin
and am playing it, but when I am a player,

when that happens at last,
there won’t be any reason to speak of
the name.   It will be less a Martin

than a scarred and dirty beast
full up with me and who I am.
Up to me.  I bend to it and begin.

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