My Friend Rachel is SO Much More Talented Than I Could Hope To Be (or, two little poems set to music)

I received an amazing surprise from my dear friend Rachel Fogarty this weekend — she’s secretly been setting some of my poetry to music for a composition competition in San Francisco.  She and Kevin (earmuff pioneer, lover of tom grooves, equally amazing musician) showed up at our Christmas Open House this weekend with a release form and an embarrassed smile as she asked me to sign it — like I wasn’t going to be completely flattered that she had even THOUGHT of doing something like this.

Rachel’s graduate recital a few years ago was revelatory — having never heard her compositions before, I was totally floored at her talent and surprised that I hadn’t realized it sooner. It’s an honor that she’d even want to use my old dusty poems for her work.

Words and links to MP3 below. Continue reading My Friend Rachel is SO Much More Talented Than I Could Hope To Be (or, two little poems set to music)

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Rediscovering Old Work

Going back through some old work today for a point of reference on some new writing I’m doing. I’m stumbling across things I have little to no recollection of writing.

In late 2003, Avenues were working on what would eventually become our EP, These Years Come To Rest. I had a very vivid idea of what I wanted our next recorded work to be about, and this came from a very real and personal place, but I struggled more than I would have liked in the actual writing of that concept. I’ve got pages upon pages of freewriting– hours spent blankly scrawling whatever came to mind. Looking back today, I’m surprised to see how effective this practice was — even writing “nonsense” with no self-editing, in retrospect, was laying all the concepts out on the table. I had more than enough material here to seam together a complete narrative.

The piece below is the most surprising to me — it’s almost structured enough that I’d consider it a finished work, and a pretty succinct summary of exactly what was going on in my head in those days immediately after graduating college. It’s a bit stream of consciousness (typically not my thing), but I guess that’s kind of the point here.

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November Eighteenth Two Thousand Three. A Crisis of Beliefs.

I looked back. everything was close to me. interstate lines and hotel rooms. a morning met too soon. I set things down, couldn’t keep them in. a flood that sweeps from within. There’s light in a window miles away. you are there, I think. shifting light without me. I knew the first day. things would end this way. salt and sea. we’d drift apart. I believed. the bus stop. your last request. words secular and sweet seeping from my breath. my fingers trace. every word refers to you.

this might have been what I wanted. a hundred nights. a river wide. a parting scene. parked cars and gasoline. I waited for something to come, something to stalk up from behind and take me. something to mean. anything to believe. something that gives. a silent ending to relive. a year to regret.

I looked back. I didn’t breathe. you still hold a part of me. you still hold a part of me. you still hold a part of me. a hotel room, a night or two. eleven hundred days full of you.

“Coil”

One shoulder takes the weight
while the other rests in waiting
for the slow steady shift.

As midnight settles, a rusty halo
emerges around the Nashville skyline,
and the hour exchanges regret
for numb awareness and silver stillness.
There is the sound of the airport sleeping,
of Interstate 24 slowing its shuttle,
the dim arterial hum of a city in relief.

And there is the clock, aching to reset –
a muted shift of method from gear to rod,
pin to pendulum, pulpit to hand,
and again to a series of gears,
where the key is not and never was.
It divides by twelves and by sixty,
and rations to each arm
an emotion of precise mathematics –
driven, by design, to find an ending
and at once another stark beginning.

One shoulder shifts the weight to the other.
The coil builds tension, and aches for release.