7 And 7 Is
It's icy all around us. The girls are upstairs putting on a puppet show. Cinderella and Eric are in Texas, where he's auditioning for the best percussion school in the country. I'm here, happy to have completed the third section of House of Broken Angels. Getting ready for the cataclysms of the finale. And I'm also happy because I had my first biopsy! That must be some kind of rite of passage, eh? You know you're decrepit when you get evil globs of weird meat growing on you, and doctors are compelled to carve out a bit of your chest and mail it to somebody so they can enjoy the biomass along with you. It came back benign, by the way--just a bizarre enthusiasm of the flesh. However, my body decided to protest the incision and fired up an infection that tore the stitches apart. Ha ha! My chest is having a tantrum. But I am, as ever, superhuman and prevailing.

Last night, my dear friend from my mad high school days, Carol Moore, had her book group call me so we could talk about Hummingbird on the speaker phone. Wow--what a dense experience for me. Carol, who knew me as I crawled through the smoke and rubble of the nascent writing life I am sharing with you in these posts, now married and reading books I never thought I could write or publish. Carol, who went to Senior Grad Nite at Disneyland with me! Carol, who regrettably showed the ladies pictures of me in a toga! Circles close; serpents bite their own rattles and dance in spirals. Me--I'm just a paper boat riding time around the shoreline.

Here's a song that moved me deeply back then because it was so pissed off. I don't want anyone to think I am a zen buddha-boy. I'd like to be. I try to be when I'm leading workshops. But anyone who really knos me can thank Christ in Heaven that I'm not King of the World. There would be arbitrary heads on spikes everywhere, man! So, like all good wannabe poets, and all good teenaged (and older...much older) boys, I liked to feel sorry for myself and be MAD. Ironically, this song was by Love, the great LA band led by the brilliant Arthur Lee (RIP):

"When I was a boy I thought about the time I'd be a man/ I'd sit inside a bottle and pretend that I was in a can/ In my lonely room I'd put my mind inside and ice cream cone/ You can throw me if you want to, 'cause I'm a bone..." Kinda psychedelic, but definitely spoke to me about the whole process. Speaks to me still. Arthur Lee! Avatar!

I had teachers (aside from Carol Moore). I have mentioned this, no doubt, but music went to the base of my skull in a way nothing else could (except Carol Moore). [By the way--you should read This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Lavitin--Eric or any Zeppelin/Hendrix/Respighi/Johnny Cash freak can tell you what I'm saying is true.] I was in the zone, baby! I was learning not to write, but to feel. I always felt before I thought. (I almost wrote "thank." This would be a swell past form of "think," and a strangely apt typo. Maybe it's my soul telling me something. I felt before I thanked.] And those teachers were people like Arthur Lee, or Jack Bruce's lyricist, Pete Brown. Or Pete Townshend. Or Dylan, of course, but even more so, Leonard Cohen. Isn't this true? Didn't you honestly go somewhere led by Joni Mitchell (Kurt Cobain, Joe Strummer, you name the artists) you didn't know existed?

Is it any wonder I never gave women flowers, but gave them poems and music instead? (I was too poor for flowers anyway. I spent all my money on books and records.)

Feeling before thought. It is my strength and failure. Always has been. Always will be. I am the guy with sticks in his hair and a pocket full of shiny rocks. This is the key to what I write and how I write and even why I write.

Arthur Lee gets really worked up in the second half of the song: "If I don't start crying it is because that I have got no eyes [sic], / My Bible's in the foireplace and my dog lies hypnotized. / Through a crack of light, I wasn't able to find my way. / Trapped inside of night, but I'm a day...."


Moves my cholestrol around, especially when the song abruptly ends with an atomic bomb exploding.

I like that last couplet so much, you'll find it at the front of Broken Angels. Arthur Lee knew what he was talking about, y'all. He knew about me, anyway. I suspect he knew about you. He even knew about the Joyous Angel Carol Moore. And that was what made me feel, then think: I'm trapped inside of night, but I'm a day....

And I go boop-bip-bip, boop-bip-bip, yeah.

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