Songwriting Some More

As mentioned a week or so ago, I’ve been going through the poetry project, pulling poems that scan like lyrics, and sitting with my acoustic guitar, arranging them for purposes as yet uncertain. While playing through the twelve songs that I have completed thus far, I realized something odd . . . someone dies or is killed in eight of them:

1. Hannelore Cline murders Gaylene Greene and Preacher Mitchel Floyd, then kills herself.

2. An un-named narrator paces a hospice hallway, waiting for someone to die.

3. Tim’s mother dies when he just fourteen.

4. Walker Cotton kills his best friend, Dewey Varney.

5. Jeremy Butcher drinks himself to death, Caroline Hogan offs herself with sleeping pills, Jefferson Slater is strangled by his cellmate (Claude), while Angela Darling dies while undergoing liposuction.

6. Old Peck chokes to death on a cracked chicken bone.

7. An un-named narrator meets Saint Peter and is given something that rhymes with silver (i.e. nothing).

8. The coastal pirates of Isle St. Jacques drown the sailors they find on a beached ship.

Now . . . I didn’t write that much about death last year, so why is it that these poems are the ones that most lend themselves to songwriting, I wonder? I don’t know, really. I can note, however, that the other four have similarly dire themes:

1. A narrator plans to drink until he rots after the City takes his home and liquor store.

2. Someone drives forever in a Diamond Blue Gremlin (this one might actually belong in the first list: it’s possible, based on the lyrics, that the driver might actually be a ghost).

3. A tired farmer and his mule march many miles to market, but never get there.

4. A hermit and his mule go to town and rob the general store. (Why are there two mules in these songs? Another mystery . . . )

If I do decide to record these, they’re going to track like some grim concept album. I wasn’t planning it that way, but, golly, there certainly seems to be some uniting theme to these pieces. Little country tragedies, almost all of them. When did I get rustic?

Not Glicky

My sister decided that her new cat was not defective enough to be a Glicky. Too bad. The cat has, instead, been named Earl Grey Duft. It’s a long story, but the punchline is, I came up with the name. However . . . Early Grey will always be Glicky in my heart. At least until someone in the family gets another pet. Hopefully a defective one, one that can wear the Glicky nametag with pride.

Brrr . . . and Ouch . . .

We turned the heat on the first time this year last night, after an impressive cold front rolled through yesterday afternoon bringing heavy wind and rain with it. So heavy, that when I got home yesterday, a very large branch from my next door neighbors’ tree had fallen in our yard.

Unfortunately . . . our next door neighbors had just moved out last weekend in preparation for selling their house. (Want to be my next door neighbor? $349,000 will get you there. Make them an offer). Not wanting (a) to have a big tree limb in my yard, and (b) to have prospective house buyers deterred by the big tree limb that fell off a tree they would be buying, I decided to deal with removal of the offending limbs and leaves myself. I should note that I don’t have a chainsaw, so I cut it down into about 15 barely manageable pieces with an axe and a handsaw, and then dragged them by hand back behind our property, where I had to heave them over a 48-inch fence into the scruffy rough back there.

About ten minutes after I finished the last piece (my hands and back screaming at me for doing more than I should have myself, with inadequate tools, too quickly), my neighbor rolls up in his pickup to get one more load of stuff from their old house. He’s a retired, reasonably well-known and successful NCAA and NFL football player (I won’t name him to protect his privacy), a big dude who would have been awfully helpful in removing fallen tree material. Oh well. I got good neighbor points anyway, even if my back hurts today. And I rewarded myself with a few extra krab sticks. Mmmm . . . processed pollock . . .

Surrealist Dreamscape

Marcia and I are living in my uncle’s townhouse in Rockville, Maryland. It seems Katelin is away for the evening, so we have the night to ourselves. Decadent plans are made, when I realize that my long-ago ex-girlfriend Barbie has left her baby hanging on the wall of our bedroom, in a little baby sleeping bag, so that only his head is peeking out. He is wearing sunglasses, and has been hanging there all day.

Annoyed at having to change my plans with Marcia, I go downstairs to try to contact Barbie, and discover that Marcia’s parents are down there in the living room watching TV. “Oh great,” I think, “something else I have to deal with now.” Then it occurs to me: Marcia’s parents are actually both dead. I realize that the first floor of the house is a re-run, so I don’t have to deal with it at all. All I have to deal with is the new season, which is going on up on the second floor. I go back upstairs.

There is now an airport terminal upstairs. I walk down the skyway, which leads to an urban green space. Lots of very hippy-esque sorts of people are there, having picnics and doing noodle dances and the like. I know that Barbie is somewhere down at the other end of the greenway, so I head off to find her. But the ground gets squishy and damp, and I notice that all the hippies are now up on a paved trail, above me to my left.

I remember that the head of the trail is back in the airport terminal. I don’t want to backtrack, so I am pleased when I notice a low spot in the trail, on which someone has conveniently stacked up a bunch of wicker chairs to make it possible to climb up to the trail. I begin to climb, but it is longer and harder than it looked from the bottom. The chairs begin to jumble and fall, and I feel myself weakening as everytime I get close to the trail, I fall back half the distance I’ve just climbed and have to do it again.

Eventually, I manage to throw my arms up, get hold of some stones on the trail, and haul myself up. The stack of chairs crumbles behind me, as the hippies glare at me for destroying their shortcut. I don’t care. I walk on. I know where Barbie’s apartment is: at the top of the cylindrical water tower that I see ahead of me on the trail.

I climb up the interior platforms of the water tower, reach the apartment, and find that she is not home. It is afternoon now, and it occurs to me that she is probably at work. That’s why she left her baby hanging in our room. As I go to climb back down out of the water tower, John Lydon is climbing up. We greet each warmly, and I tell him that Barbie’s not home, but if hangs out at her place I will be back soon and we can catch up.

At the bottom of the tower, I find Barbie’s sister, Kris. She has a car, and agrees to take to Barbie’s work. We drive off. She’s looking good. I think maybe I ought to cop a feel. I do. She reminds me that we both are married. Oh yeah. Sorry. Soon after, we arrive at an art gallery in an old ramshackle warehouse. The curator tells us that there are some special, adults only works of art in the room ahead to the right, but that we are probably too smart to appreciate them.

I go off on my own to find them, but can’t. There are lots of little wooden stalls and cubicles, each of which seems to be set up for a different artist, although most of the artists seem to have either sold or removed all their work already. I peek into one stall that is partially obscured and the large wooden door falls off its tracks, nearly hitting me.

There is a shopping mall beyond the stall. I see two employees dressed in Burger King-esque uniforms opening and closing the bathroom doors and sniffing the air. They tell me they are trying to decide if they’ve done a good cleaning job by whether they can smell the bathrooms from the outside. I tell them it all smells good and looks clean. One of them says “No, it’s dirty in here. It’s clean outside.”

There is an archway leading outside to the city nearby. I stand in the threshold of the archway and mock them, stepping outside and saying “clean,” then stepping back inside and saying “dirty,” several times. They are not amused.

Marcia and my house is up ahead. When I get there, she is not there. I look around for her, and find my commercial printing contractor waiting for me in her bathroom. He has a box for me and wants to review my order. He removes two pairs of blue, nearly see-through plastic pants and tells me that he had to order them from England to get what I wanted. He points out that because they are from England, the back pocket is on the left side instead of the right side, and asks if that’s okay.

I tell him, “Sure, that’s fine.” But inside, I am wondering whether see through plastic blue pants were a good idea at all. I wonder why I ordered them.

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