2.8.17 – American Sentence

2.8.17 – Spiders can’t get outta sinks, palmetto bugs can’t get outta bathtubs.

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Visiting Jaco’s Grave

It is hard to believe that it’s been almost twenty years since the legendary bassist for Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, died due to complications from a beating he took from a bouncer at a South Florida nightclub. Jaco’s five years with Weather Report produced some of my most favorite music ever. Tunes like Black Market, Young and FineTeen TownPursuit of the Woman with the Feathered Hat and Birdland grace my Spotify feed and are instant mood-changers for me. Music like this has given me so much joy over the years.

One of the best concerts I have ever attended was the February 9, 1980, gig Weather Report did at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. A venue on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was designed  by Sullivan and Adler (where Frank Lloyd Wright was an apprentice architect) and was said to have such perfect acoustics that a whisper on stage could carry up to the 7th balcony. I will never forget the solo Jaco did by using a sampler he’d control with his foot to create a base rhythm over which he would improvise. Someone in the 3rd or 4th balcony screamed: “Kill it Jaco!”

When I was in South Florida two years ago to interview Jose Kozer, which resulted in the book Tiovivo Tres Amigos, I remembered that Jaco was buried nearby and made a vow at that time to plan another visit and go to Jaco’s grave to pay my respects. I did that on Sunday, February 5, 2017. While most of my time there is quite personal and had a ritual feel, I will say that I read Jaco the poem I wrote for him in 2003. (I’ll post it in below.)

And once our time at Jaco’s grave was over, we had one more stop on the Jaco memorial tour. Not too far from his final resting place is a park with a community center that was named in Jaco’s honor. If my memory of the recent Jaco film serves, the park was a place where Jaco actually lived near the end of his life when he was falling apart due to his addictions and mental illness. But to see his name on the wall, see the two beautiful murals, and to see people playing catch in the park just enjoying a sunny South Florida winter Sunday, was well worth the effort we expended to get there. Rest in peace Jaco.

Photo by Bhakti Watts

Photo by Bhakti Watts

Photo by Bhakti Watts

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Some 2016 American Sentences

Buy the book, $11.99.

I used to post my best American Sentences at the end of every year, or shortly into the new one. But once I published my first book of such poems, I thought it best for people who got something out of my use of the form to buy the book. Results are mixed, but I do like to keep readers of this blog (all five of them) informed about my ongoing practice of writing one such 17 syllable poem every day, still. As of today, that’s 5,871 days.

The series for me is more than a way of life, it has become like a serial poem, sometimes serving as a sort of journal of my life. The best sentences bring me back to the moment like a good scent can and looking back at sentences that were of an unpleasant nature make me grateful that situation does not exist anymore. Having gone through two divorces, you can imagine the kind of psychic terrain to which I refer.

And at the risk of losing or misplacing the pocket journals in which I write these poems, I tend to NOT harvest them until a week or two into January. I was planning to harvest them during my Desolation Sound retreat, but forgot the journals at home. That mistake turned out to be a blessing, as I was focused on creating new work, longer form poems and ALMOST finished a series I’d been working on. I was able to finish it not long after my return. I guess I sort of surprise myself when I look at all I have written in any given year.

And I’ve been unveiling the recent American Sentences in public recently. The Easyspeak series on the 2nd and fourth Mondays at the Wedgwood Ale House is one such venue. As the poems are short, it’s good to have them to aid transitions from one poet to another when serving as emcee, as I did last Monday.

I’ll just share three here and some background info with them as well and will post others as the year goes along. In part, the sentences show us where we were a year ago. (At least where I was.) Enjoy:

1.12.16 – Oregon Headline: “Angry Militia Leader: Stop Mailing us Dildos.”

Check the link for more if you do not know the story. My comment after I read this was, no pun intended… it just slipped out… “I can’t believe they got off.”

1.16.16 – Saundra Fleming is a Farmland Genius who has Flaming Adrenals.

I’ve written over 100 Birthday Anagram poems over the past couple of years, but the one for one of my favorite local painters, the one whose BOILED HAM SHOULD NOT BE BOILED painting graces our kitchen, Saundra Fleming, may have been the best, though it was not for her birthday.

The last one I’ll share now was intended to reveal my haste in shopping, but some people got something else out of it. Oh well.

1.19.16 – Buying underwear briefs a size too small displays all my shortcomings.

 

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