Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lucrecio and Ajax---Part One

Lucrecio Miller lived next to the railroad tracks. Day and night the trains rolled by causing his Uncle Milton´s little shack to shake and rumble.

In the five years they had lived together, Uncle Milton didn’t pay much attention to Lucrecio, he was always too busy with the dozens of broken down cars which were scattered all over the yard.

´Hey Lucas!!´ he would often say, ´I´m gonna build the fastest car this side of the Silver River, your Daddy would have been proud!!´

Lucrecio didn’t always live by the railroad tracks with his Uncle Milton, he used to live with his parents in the middle of the forest until he was 8 years old. One day as he was walking home after school he saw smoke in the distance and heard sirens. He started running up the long driveway to the house, but a policeman stopped him before he could see what was happening.

´Are you the Miller´s boy?´ he asked and Lucrecio nodded yes. ´I´m afraid we got here too late,´the policeman said, ´but we will find out who is responsible, I promise you that.´

They continued up the driveway through the flashing lights and sirens until Lucrecio could see the charred remains of what had once been his home. They both watched as the firemen put back their hoses and the ambulance took his parents silently away forever.

After everyone had left, Lucrecio and the policeman stood together in the silent, empty front yard. ´Son, you must feel awful bad about this. If you ever need to talk to anyone, Officer Maxwell´s the name. You can call me Max.´ Lucas looked up through teary eyes and nodded in appreciation. ´I´ll take you to the police station now, your Uncle Milton is waiting for you.´

As Officer Max was taking Lucrecio to the squad car, they heard tapping and scratching through the thin smoke on the other side of the burned down house. They looked over and saw a sharp reflection of light, as if from a small mirror, flashing at them through the haze. In one of the flashes they saw the wings of a crow hovering over the source of light.

´Caw!! Caw!!´ He called to them, fluttering his wings. Lucrecio and Officer Max trotted over to the other side of the house as the crow bounced away with one leap, hovering on a blackened wall where the laundry room used to be.

Through his tears Lucrecio saw something smoldering in the ashes. Officer Max stopped him from picking it up, taking a white handkerchief and carefully reaching down to find a pocket watch, black and sooty from being in the fire. The glass was cracked and the hands had stopped. He rubbed off the soot to reveal a pure gold surface.

´Is this your Daddy´s watch?´ Officer Max showed it to Lucrecio. They looked at each other, puzzled. Lucrecio had never seen the watch before, but he grabbed it out of the officer´s hand, thrusting it into his front pocket next to his heart, as if it were the last memory of his Mother and Father that he could keep.
´You keep that in your pocket from now on, son, and don’t lose it!!´ They nodded in agreement and he patted Lucrecio lightly on the shoulder.

´So I wonder where THIS one came from?´ he asked, puzzled even more with the mysterious crow. ´I wonder if he has a name?´

´Caw!! Caw!!´ He spread his wings again and Lucrecio read the words on the half-melted detergent bottles.

´AJAX!!´ he exclaimed, pointing at the crow and looking at Officer Max with a slight smile showing through his tear-stained eyes. Ajax called to the both of them again and with a sudden flap of his wings he flew off over the trees and mountains toward the Silver River.

The State of the Nation

Sexless Architects
Atheists allergic to incense
Roman roundabout spins along the lost papyrus

What started this virus?
Look at the shape we’re in,
Latchkey kids at your door, throw ‘em a bone to
Stew around

There’s a big wet blanket over us
Airwaves cluttered
Making it hard to breathe

---2008, Barcelona, Spain

Monday, March 30, 2009


When some people point to the future
They point behind
For it cannot be seen
When asked to point to the past
They point ahead

Baby bird
Nest warm and dry
Flock long gone in flight

Forget about the bad things you’ve done
Or instead, try to remember them more fully

Just don’t relive them

---March 2009, Barcelona, Spain

Rite of Passage

Fall 1980, Nevada, Iowa

We had done hours of air jamming to them with our tennis rackets and pool cues, some of us had even put on the makeup. Now it was time to shoot them full of twelve gauge holes.

Destroyer, Hotter Than Hell, Love Gun, we lined them up in the corn furrows side by side, blasting away and then using the albums as clay pigeons one by one shattering them into jagged black fragments in the air.

Kiss had become all we hated about commercialism, groups like The Clash and X, The Meat Puppets and The Minutemen had taken over with their political message against US imperialism and support for the Sandinista Revolution. Our history teachers had it wrong, or they forgot to say it somehow…Ronald Reagan was funding millions a day to the death squad governments in Central America. The big lie had been perfected once and for all.

Apollo Has Landed

1969 Bald Eagle Lake, Minnesota

Dad said come out here son this is history the first man to ever step on the moon.
I remember he also had me come out and watch a few years later as Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency. I don’t remember seeing the moon landing, but I do have a memory of it, and I remember the quote like everyone else does, and Armstrong´s footprint. Nixon was surrounded by his family and maybe Checkers the dog too, as he bowed in disgrace to the cameras and the world. Then or before he was to coin the phrase I´m Not a Crook! which was to become all the craze in later years.

Probably the first real memories I have come from television, it was my babysitter and I watched everything all the time. Especially in the winter, our picture window framing the frozen lake while the Looney Tunes defied death and body bags rolled off the plane from Vietnam.

It was about this time in my young life when I asked my Dad where I had come from. He often told me the story about this moment, it was one of the family favorites.

He was working on building the front porch when we first got the house on Bald Eagle, and I just walked up and asked him out of the blue--Dad, where did I come from?? He didn’t know what to say, like The Stork brought you or The Birds and The Bees or what. So he started by saying, well Jay you were adopted. I just said Okay Dad and walked off.

I´m not really sure if I knew what Adopted meant at that moment, but from the very beginning it wasn’t a secret at all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Highway 61 Revisited Again

Winter 1999 Chelsea New York City

We put on some records that she had lying around. When I put on the Mississippi John Hurt she asked if I knew of a band called New Lost City Ramblers. Of course, I had a couple of their records, they were big heroes of the early sixties folk revival here, before Dylan. Then she told me that John Cohen, one of the founding members, was one of her best friends and best clients, she’s his agent, maybe I can meet him while I’m here.

I thought to myself, Bob Dylan stayed in his loft in 1961, there´s a great book of photos taken by Cohen in that period when Dylan was trying to break away from his Woody Guthrie image, taking off the corduroy cap, getting into some Verlaine and writing Hard Rain´s A-Gonna Fall. And there on the back of the book of Dylan photos, Deborah Bell Photographs.

Even that picture on the back of Self-Portrait, Dylan looking up at the trees, that was John Cohen too. This guy was a legend, and she not only KNEW him, she was one of his best friends and close professional confidantes. He was close friends with Harry Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Patti Smith and other luminaries. He even helped those crazy Beats make that crazy short movie called Pull My Daisy.

My birth mom Charlane smiled and turned to her sister Debora with a big smile. She knew what had just happened, that the circle was being completed, that blood has a memory and intuition, a will and voice of its own.


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Though he should have been called Thomas McElhone III, this mercurial Aries no hit wonder found himself nestled in the palms of strangers at birth, forever housing the name of a scavenger bird flying over the midwestern prairie.

Jay Michael Harden. His kin came from South Dakota, Land of the Buffalo, the Ogalala Sioux, King Corn and Llamas.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes, horse flies and blizzards. This displanted, uprooted and bloodless young nest stealer used to sit and listen to The Sun Sessions in Sioux Falls on Thanksgiving while his cousins planted the demon seed of funk in his ears with Parliament Mothership Connection. The Ames Public Library provided him with the Anthology of Folk Music by Harry Smith, so there was one big Gumbo Pots on Fiyo musical stew with just the right seasoning, jamming with high school buddies to Neil Young and Lightning Hopkins, dreaming of writing the great american novel in a song.

Although this Jaybird may never have been accused of eating a Robin's eggs and taking over the nest, Harden has managed to ruffle a few feathers in his quest for musical notoriety.

Check out www.myspace.com/hardenjay for the latest songs from Jay Harden and Greenville!!!

Time Springs from Ripe Green Age

Sprouting mature verse
Li Po the drunk savant
Burroughs cut a swath of Nelson Algren
I once saw Rexroth’s autograph in an anthology.

A true star voice emerges, singing to spheres
His constellations were placed in the heavens
Like thumbtacks on the infinite bulletin board

Sanguine Betelgeuse
Bright orbs circle westward
Over Mt. Hood snow

Hoofing over terrains plaintively, no
Trudging only the city’s hard surfaces
Immersed in the streets and in angel’s faces
Seen only once.

Pearl-lights freeway ahead
A lackluster gem
An ornate Coleman stove
Age and dissent
In werewolf garb to meta into enemies of the night.

Broadcast news anchor on the beach—chest high waves threaten to consume him.
Breath of wildflowers and kelp, streams of reeds, the mike chord buries in his brain.

Red star, corner of bow, flinging singing arrow into dark, empty sky.

---Winter 1995, Portland, Oregon

Monday, March 23, 2009

Universal Denial

1999 Portland, Oregon

They told me I couldn’t go to the Plasma Center for at least four months after the veins collapsed in both my arms. I’m telling you, that needle is big and hollow, the young nurse chewing her juicy fruit while she tries two and three times to hit the vein. Cassandra come over here we got a problem. My bag wasn’t filling up this time, the artery had collapsed from her missed hits, so I was sent away in shame with empty pockets. No more would I pass the posters of the happy children in the hemophiliac summer camp, boating and fishing at Mary’s Lake. No more would I roll down my sleeves to cover the bandages, take my thirty euros at the window and get Bushmill’s with beer backs next door at The Starting Point until I went blind. How else was I gonna get the money to drink if I could no longer give my blood?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kachina Takes Off His Mask

1984 Iowa City, Iowa

I usually think about what I need to find in a second hand shop, walk in and the first thing I touch on the rack is exactly what I need. Like a pair of Levi’s 34 by 31 for 15 bucks at Goodwill, think it, go there, buy it. I said Usually because one time when I was thinking about a new pair of army boots, I walked into a second hand shop, touched a jean jacket on the rack just to see what would happen, and puff I saw this incredible embroidery on the back of a Levi’s Jean jacket, a Hopi Kachina Doll. I even knew what it was because I knew about those things from Rolling Thunder, a book my high school counselor had given me to read. I always used to draw a Kachina doll stick figure as a doodle after reading Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island and seeing the woodcuts stamped on its pages.
One day after leaving the Plasma Center I left the jacket in an International House of Pancakes. I never could believe that the hippie looking waiter didn’t actually see the jacket crumpled up in the booth after I stumbled out, almost forgetting to pay the bill. I knew from the gleam in his eye that he had kept if for himself, denying everything when I went back with my memory intact the next day looking for it.