Tuesday, February 10, 2015


                                                    Check out those Dreads!!!!!


i was riding past this pentecostal church
the sign out front read,
"no act of love is ever wasted"

the hare krishna food is great but
goes through me like drano
from main meadow we high
tail it across the road
splitting the toilet roll for our
respective relief ventures i
do my business and stand
on the slope waiting for her to
finish and rejoin me
time unwinds and sun sets as i
wait and worry grows this is
black bear country i know she
can't have went more than a
hundred feet in but it's dark
my nerves run riot as i
imagine her being bear food or at
least having tripped over a rock
unconscious or worse
several brothers join me in
a search of the immediate woods
people here are kind as a
matter of course they greet and
part with hails of "lovin' you!"
which carries no more weight or
substance than hello or
goodbye still the sentiment is
nice flashlights scouring
thick brush screaming for her my
description her name blonde
thirty pink bandana is she
your girlfriend? they ask i
have no right to call her that
but i love her that's what i
tell them we hunt and yell her name
finally they tell me check
back at camp or go to information
to pull a search party together so
i slog back to camp heart in
mouth and there she is citronella
candles lit sitting and yakking
with some joker who isn't
me i'm hysterical and weeping tell
her i was afraid she might be
dead she says she crossed the
road and waited a half hour
before giving up and returning to
camp the guy who isn't me intones
pacific comfort, "everyone's safe
in rainbow land," nice thought
i need to run back to the
entrance give dude's flashlight back
i'm gone maybe fifteen minutes upon
my arrival back she and the guy who
isn't me have split the scene leaving
candles lit and i sit and wait
she doesn't come back fellow
campers around me go about
their business like ants and i
sit alone knowing she saw how
wretched i was where did she
go hours pass it might be
midnight or later before i
make my way down the dark trail
to the madass drum circle a
throng of hellbent drummers
dancers fire jugglers participants
and all is a berserk throbbing
human unit is she here i can't
make her or anyone out the vibe is
incredible tribal transformative and
except for the knot in my gut i'm
sure i'd appreciate it more mind
racing i wander back to camp cry
some more swill what's left of the
absinthe throw the empty bottle at a
tree attempt and fail to sleep
citronella stalks melt away, burn
in grass a volunteer fireman takes
the initiative stomps out a little
inferno and admonishes me from outside
the tent "you need to watch your candles,
brotha," he says blaming me for
wanting to keep her path lit i feel
a desire to break my brother's face
but lack the energy or focus night
fades into morning my guts twist in
me it's rainbow land and heart
smashed on ground i
am not safe



She's asleep in the back of the van, has been for
Appalachia's long behind us and
Louisville is one more congested nightmare of a city
She's not missing anything good
Her Big City Phobia may outdo mine
white knuckles on the wheel and I think,
keep it together, stay sane
You can fall apart later
No sleep 'til Babylon

It's been a long, hard overnight blast
through the dark expanse of Kentucky
I caught an hour nap after Bowling Green
She stayed asleep
curled up in the back
That's fine
I've got road hypnosis and bad baggage
but I think, keep it together
Stay sane
Because we need each other to get through this
I can lose my mind later
I probably will
The road peels forth toward Babylon
Every part of me hurts
So I concern myself with the next gas stop
the next meal
the next piss
We need each other's help
Keep the conversation reasonably light
Try not to break to pieces when you look at her
You can fall apart later
All that matters is getting back
Back to Babylon

All things considered the trip was okay
I learned to like the bugs
I almost learned to like the cops
there were pluses peppered throughout
In the dark a gutterpunk sniped about "snobby
"What's so snobby about hippies?" Asked someone,
the bait
"They don't love me unconditionally," came the reply
Funny joke--the truth hurts sometimes
And nothing keeps the pipes regular like five
days of Vegan food;
The mad cascade, babyshit yellow
There's nothing quite like a therapist supervised
cuddle puddle to make you acutely aware
of how worthless and repulsive you really are
and goddammit, doling out fifty bucks
so that certain special someone can have her pot
in spite of the fact that she's not fucking you
is the mark of a true gentleman
      or a true schmuck
I'll let you know when I figure it out
Sign at trail's top read,
"Leave the Alcohol in Babylon where it belongs"
I kept that sign in mind when I
bartered crystals for a six-pack
Yeah, I know
I'm a bad hippie

As we cross into Missouri
we get NPR on the radio
We learn London has been bombed
She's worried
She has family there
I'm relieved because it gives me
something to think about
    besides us
    besides her

The Delta yawns out before us
and in the future I see
renewable Patriot Acts
and weapons of mass stupidity
Keep it together
Stay sane
I'm always comfortable in the middle of a fight
I can fall apart later
I'm chopping off my dreads
and going back to Babylon

rev. 10/05

Copyright 2005 C.F. Roberts/2015 Molotov Editions

Two different poems written around the same time that both tell the same story...the difference being that the second one was specifically written for live readings. I was writing, a blog or two ago, about discerning the difference between a poem that's just “written” versus a poem designed specifically to be read to an audience. Back in the '90s I didn't really have that kind of discernment and I'd just read any damn thing live.....probably much to the chagrin of a lot of people.
Which isn't to say I didn't TRY “Rainbow Land” out once or twice at the mic, but it has no real verbal flow to it----it's more a poem you're supposed to see on a page, whereas “Babylon” has more of a conversational rhythm to it and it comes off the tongue a lot more nicely.....there's an obvious intent here to engage a listener.
I'll do an open mic now and again but on the whole I don't read live that much anymore....I tend to prefer the solitary act of sitting down and writing something to the whole live performance thing. Back in the early 90's in Nashua people sometimes referred to me as a “performance poet” because I used to project and scream and yell and do all kinds of strum and drang....people would come up to me afterwards and say, “I never knew someone could do that with poetry!” Well, sure you can----and if anyone is willing to cross the street for it that's a nice thing.
Once the whole Slam idiom took hold across the country a lot of that changed....there was more of an emphasis on “getting a poem off the page”, something I was never especially good at. Mostly at the end of the day for me it's still all about the writing. But if there's one thing I understood from watching it all is that some things “read” better in live performance than others.


Here's a clip of me performing “Back 2 Babylon” (a somewhat cleaned-up version for family friendly hours) on TV at a fundraiser back in 2006. I had become friendly with a new employee working there at the time----she was a fellow writer and we just clicked. A year later I would go on to marry her. You can probably tell I was showing off. Not a great reading but hopefully entertaining.
I heard this story once about a guitarist who put a “NO SMOKING” sign across his guitar and when asked why, he said, “because I can't smoke.” I always kind of thought I should do something similar---maybe wear a decal that said, “No Slamming” because I can't slam....
Enjoy, or something.

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