Tag Archives: Duende Project

Birch recording

A new recording of my recent poem “Birch” is available here. 

The Pattern Song/America’s Shoes

Everything has a political component 
If you learn to see 
you’ll surely agree

Everything has a political component
If you think it though
You’ll see it’s true

Walking in America
wearing its mandatory shoes

They don’t fit
but because they are superficially pretty
and match the rest of your outfit

people try to tell you
your feet are the problem. Don’t worry.
It’s fixable, they say. 

Having tried on and taken home 
dozens of the annual versions
of America’s shoes, you disagree

but go on walking
in shoes full of blood,
shoes lined with gun metal.

Everything has a political component
It’s a fact of life
we tuck out of sight

Everything has a political component
We don’t like to say
how it got this way

Trying to find others
whose walk hurts
in the same way yours does

is always hard
and even tragic
on some days.

Finding a place
where others have stopped
to kick them off,

to stand together,
stand barefoot and bruised
but more at ease,

even briefly
for a quick respite, 
is its own kind of ache.

Everything has a political component
The slant hits you 
as you think it through

Everything has a political component
Every gear that turns
Every tree that burns

The problem, you say,
is the shoes, not the feet,
but even some

of your fellow striders
who’ve stopped beside you
on the street

to pull the cursed shoes off and rest
insist the next version will fit at last.
They’re finally getting it right. Look at

how much progress we’ve made, how
far we’ve come. The walk ahead may be
daunting, but we’ve certainly left

all the bloody footprints
we need
to show the way.

Everything has a political component
Don’t say that too loud
You’ll attract a crowd

Everything has a political component
It’s not always clear
But it’s always there

If you refuse to tie the shoes back on,
they’ll be the first 
to stomp your bare feet

until you are dead or
so crushed you might
as well be.

Stop trying, drag yourself
to the nearest funeral home
(because you can’t even limp there)

where they’ll box you up, hide your feet,
burn or bury you and call you a martyr
long before you are in fact dead,

when all you ever wanted was to get home
without screaming inside
at every step.

Everything has a political component 
If you learn to see 
you’ll surely agree

Everything has a political component
If you think it through
You’ll see it’s true

Lowell George, Sylvester, and Heaven

Let us pray on the questions.
Let us listen to the answers:

is church or swamp the holiest of holies?
How deep into murky water will you go to find God?

Heaven, Hollywood, Watts: how far apart are they?
Did Lowell George meet Sylvester at the Whisky back in the day?

Glory, glory in the Commodore Hotel;
a choir full of lust and memory.

Glory, glory, hallelujah on the dance floor,
as real as anything, as anything could be.

Is a dance floor less real than the seat of Heaven?
Is the church the only true entrance to paradise?

Preacher in white coveralls offers Scripture
with six strings and a spark plug socket.

Gay black angel in glittering wig and robe
unfurls wings below the sacred mirrorball.

Is any rock club you could choose any more sacred
than any disco you could name?

Is the distance to Paradise from your stage
truly shorter than theirs, or do you just measure them differently?

The band in action…

For those of you unfamiliar with my band, The Duende Project:  we are a quartet (Chris O’Donnell on drums, Chris Lawton on guitar, Steven Lanning-Cafaro on bass, guitar, and keyboards, and yours truly on vocals/poetry and guitar) who play eclectic jazz, funk, rock, blues, and more to back up my poems.  

This is a link to a video of an entire set at AS220 in Providence, RI, USA on May 29th of this year.  

Hope you enjoy it…

The Duende Project in action!

Just a cross post…

I mention now and then work I’m doing with our poetry and music group, the Duende Project.  

Here’s a link to an entry at our Website this AM about some exciting developments.  It includes a sound file of our piece “Trinity,” which may or may not open depending on where you are in the world; not something I can do anything about, sadly.  




Note from the musical side of this project…

The Duende Project (the band in which I do poetry and a little guitar while three really great musicians make it all sound good) just released a free download of the poem “Falconers,” a tribute to librarians everywhere — you can read more about it at the site.  Available for free or pay what you want right now.

All of our other work is there too — buy single tracks from any of our five albums, or grab the whole discography as a download for one discounted price.

thanks in advance, 


NOTE:  If you are having trouble listening to or downloading anything, could you let me know?  There MAY be an issue outside the USA but I’m having trouble pinpointing it.  Thanks.


If you’re remotely interested in what I sound like when I read poetry, here’s my recent poem, “Neighborhood Bar,” as a demo recording I did for our band, The Duende Project — that’s me on guitar and vocal.  Wide open for feedback…

Neighborhood Bar

Wanna hear and see some poetry and music in action?

Then head on over to the site for my poetry and music project, “The Duende Project.” 

There’s a lot of info about us on there, and the most recent blog post has links to new videos of a duo performance we did on January 3rd, 2016 in Worcester MA. You’ll get to see me mangle a guitar and see bassist/nylon-string guitar genius, Steven Lanning-Cafaro, as he pulls our cookies out of the fire each time. 

Seriously — it was a good set and I hope you enjoy these videos, shot by Duende Project guitarist Chris Lawton.

New Duende Project track…

Thought you folks might like to hear the latest track from my poetry and music group, The Duende Project.  On this cut you’re hearing the guitar work of Steven Lanning-Cafaro, who founded the project with me nine years ago.  Hope you enjoy it!

Trinity Tango

This is part of a larger project we’re very excited about.  I’ll share more about it as I can over the next couple of weeks.

Here’s the text:

Trinity Tango

I have a black dog
who once was well fed;
I have a black dog 
who used to be fat.

Now he’s meatless, he’s weightless,
a hard-beaten skin drum,
heavy only with snarls 
and with dark eye-shine.  

He jumps from the rug
where he sleeps while I’m sleeping
and lands in my bed, 
looking to chew me; 

I hate him, I love him,
I own him, I fear him;
I sing him a lullaby 
to get him to heel —

c’est tout, c’est tout
is French for that’s all;
basta, basta,
Italian for enough.
I can’t give you my heart,
for my heart is too tough;
c’est tout, basta, 
that’s all, that’s enough.

The mother, the father,
the lovers, the brothers;
the liars and smilers 
who’ve drained all the colors;

whose once-red appetites
are still salt on the wounds
from the end of a cutlass 
one could scarcely imagine;

they come to my bedside,
push me to the floor;
I speak to their shadows, 
cast my one good spell —

c’est tout, c’est tout
is French for that’s all;
basta, basta,
Italian for enough.
I won’t give you my soul,
for my soul is too rough;
c’est tout, basta, 
that’s all, that’s enough.

Ho mai creduto che sarebbe stato facile ?
Ho mai creduto che potesse essere ignorato? 
Ho mai creduto 
che potesse divenire polvere
o vento o racconto di fantasmi
o fiaba …

o essere dimenticato ?


Did I ever believe it would be easy?
Did I ever believe it could be wished away?
Did I ever believe it could become dust
or wind or ghost story
or fable…

or forgotten?

I wake in the morning
or even the evening.
There’s breakfast or supper. 
There’s something to do.

I stand up, I move. 
I don’t see the dog.
If there’s a question to be answered here
I know what to say —

c’est tout, c’est tout
is French for that’s all;
basta, basta,
Italian for enough.
I can’t give up my heart,
my heart is too tough;
c’est tout, basta, 
that’s all, that’s enough.

Recording for your consideration…

Today would have been the 81st birthday of the great master of the cuatro, Yomo Toro. Yomo Toro’s mastery introduced me to an instrument I love — and which I don’t think I will ever be much good at, at least not in the traditional sense. Which is kind of the point of this tribute to “Torito.” 

My band Duende Project plays this live now and then, but have somehow never gotten around to recording it. So I sat down this morning and cut this. It’s a live track — me playing as I read the poem; the quality is not spectacular, but again…that kind of fits in its own way. 

Just offering this as a way of honoring the day and as an offering to those who knew his music and the man himself. I wish I had known him; I’m honored to have made the acquaintance of his family as a result of this poem, and hope they in particular like this. Thanks.

Poem For Yomo Toro

A note for all subscribers:

If you ever want to check out one of my solo readings or a show by my music and poetry ensemble “The Duende Project,”  you can always go check out a constantly updated schedule here:


You can listen to tracks,  see videos, and generally keep up with what the band is doing.  Usually list my solo readings on that as well.

If you decide you want to purchase one of our albums, you can go look us up on Amazon.com, eMusic, etc for the first two, and go directly to this site for the two most recent ones:


Poetry matched to excellent, jazz/funk tinged bass, nylon-string guitar, and drums.  



Note for subscribers to Dark Matter: The Duende Project

Just wanted to drop a note to all the wonderful folks who subscribe directly to Dark Matter.

I really appreciate your desire to follow my experiment here of putting an entire body of work out there — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the mediocre.  I certainly hope you enjoy it and I’m always happy to respond to any comments or questions.

Wanted to also point out to those new to the blog that I also have another project — a poetry and music ensemble, a band if you will, called The Duende Project.  It features two spectacular musicians — Steven Lanning-Cafaro on bass and nylon string guitar and Chris O’Donnell on drums — and me on far less than spectacular electric guitar now and then, and poems all the time.  

Our early work is available on Amazon.com, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Spotify, etc., etc., while our two most recent albums are out on Bandcamp, at theduendeproject.bandcamp.com .  

I would certainly love it if you’d go take a listen at the least — and if you saw fit to purchase a track or a whole album, that’d be terrific too.

Thanks again to all of you.  I am humbled by your continued interest in my work, and I hope to interact with you soon.


Note to regular subscribers: The Duende Project

Wanted to suggest to all the regular subscribers to the blog that you might want to take a look and give a quick listen to the new CD from my poetry and music band, “The Duende Project.”  

It’d be great if you thought about purchasing a track or even the whole album, too, of course,  but mostly I’d love it if you gave it a listen. Performing and playing with Steven and Chris is a critical part of how the poetry gets out there for me.  I’d love it if some of you who read the work regularly got a sense of what that is like.

Thanks in advance,


Shameless Plug

Some of you are aware that in addition to posting poems on this blog, I also have a career of doing readings and performance of these poems  — many with my long term collaborator Steven Lanning-Cafaro on electric bass and nylon string guitar in a duo called The Duende Project.

Recently, we added a drummer to the group.  Chris O’Donnell has changed the very nature of the Duende Project and made it more visceral, more physical.  We’re thrilled with the change and are looking forward to a long collaboration.  (They even let me play guitar with them now and then, which is humbling indeed…)

Our first CD as a trio was released today!  If you are at all interested in checking it out, it’s available for sale at:


Thanks in advance for any consideration you may give that…onward…

NB:   other albums are available there and on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc….plus, we’re available for streaming on Spotify, Pandora, etc.  Just search for “The Duende Project.”

Duende Project cut from the new album…sneak preview!

Thought I’d give you a sneak peak of the new Duende Project album…a little poetry, a lot of slap bass.

Kinda just goofing around, but seriously so.

Not sure how this will reflect the final mix or even what ends up on the album…but I hope it gives you a flavor of the night…and there MIGHT even be some video of this up shortly.

Anyway, here’s the link: