In a shoebox of cassettes
the scrawled-in-pen names of DJ’s
are spelled-out on thin, white stickers.
These faceless heroes
of our forgotten scene
have taken day jobs
or managed to tour Europe
with only their decal-covered
travel case of vinyl records
to spin in still-happening clubs,
like minstrels carrying
pairs of turntable needles
instead of guitars.
Either way, the hiss of tape
with layers of dated beats
blend disco and “Planet Rock”
with James Brown hooks
and hip-hop samples, mixed
into a tuneful soundtrack
that reaches out from my youth
to remind me of lost friends
and mythic parties.
I am no longer psychedelic
in the genius of 1994,
the one who rarely worked
and never paid bills.
I have evolved into a fact
of my bank statement,
a truth I awaken
each morning with a shower,
making ready to toil in the mundane
world of service.
Why can’t she just accept
of the situation,
tug then spiral?
The smooth, hard sheen
of protection, her craft
But now we know the nature of the cell
She knew this first;
her raven heart told her.
60 years can be called
miss. Is this
what 60 looks like?
I do not know which to prefer,
creation or transformation;
what I make in this world,
or the re-making of myself.
Dad has me pause for the camera,
pose in my red dress, knee highs
fallen into anklets. Smile, he says.
But my mind’s a swirl. Marianne,
Daphne and the two Lisas race
through my yard. And there’s
a bright stack of presents I’m not
to tear into before the cake, the song.
Elsewhere, a guy in clothes more
flowing than my simple A-line,
parties too. He’s reimagined
guitar; taught it to wail; ignited
even the national anthem. Only
now, sirens keen as he chokes
on fluids from his own throat,
excuses himself, kisses the sky.
Kicked out of our father’s car
thanks to his smart mouth, my brother
walked up Hollywood Boulevard
where he gathered strength,
swiping at hot tears
then curling his lip like Elvis.
There is always a song if you listen.
He swayed his skinny hips, even turned
his collar up. As for the rush of trucks
spitting dust, he closed his eyes.
We know something happened in Englewood Cliffs,
New Jersey, that cold day in February 1964. No one will
confirm what we suspect: shape-shifting that rendered
two disparate objects identical, two men doppelgangers
ticketed for Noah’s Ark. Perhaps Richard Davis’ bass
compressed & restructured its curves, turned silver &
black, squeezed itself together with cork grease, shrank
to 4 feet 6.25 inches. Or Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet had a
spurt of height & girth, switched from folk-art snake to
cocoa-colored earth mother, refreshed with the pine scent of
rosin. Mouth + reed = bow + strings. Maybe they met in the
middle, a compromise of breaths & sawed quarter notes,
salvage-yard spares woven into grotesque science project.
I had tickets for the symphony —
The Red Violin Chaconne
for which I’d waited weeks and weeks,
but it was bitter cold
and a northwest clipper threatened
to repeat last month’s unexpected
rage of wind and white loosed
sometime between intermission and
the fifth ovation,
so I didn’t go.
Instead, I distracted
with bhaklava and Bogart,
wished for snow enough.
only a fine flurry of gauze
dusted the driveway, hardly an excuse.
Today I watch The Red Violin again
reminded when a soul longs to sing,
the perfect instrument finds it, shapes
its truest music, ignites it into
one transcendent sound.
When the cashier prematurely and automatically, without a twinge of uncertainty, gave her a senior discount, Brenda felt compelled to paint every room in her house Chinese red. She went to Lowe’s and sorted through palette samples because Chinese red turned out not to be so simple. She compared tints and hues, and finally decided on a shade that reminded her of a clingy swingy dress she’d worn to see Baryshnikov dance Romeo at Lincoln Center decades before when her hair had pigment and her skin knew how to hold itself in place.
Not having painted anything in a while, Brenda asked the twelve year old “design consultant” named Binky what else she would need. He helped her gather painter’s tape, stir sticks, rollers, brushes, plastic, all of which she carted home with no less than eight gallons of Peking Passion. She wondered what Stefan would think. They’d only been lovers for three months and were still at the stage of undressing by candlelight, and watching each other sleep. Stefan had not yet witnessed female hormones—or the lack thereof—running amok.
I live with a man who says there’s always enough love. I tell him to hold me in his automatic arms. Good robot, I coo. He says loving is fine if you have plenty of time. Do we have plenty of time, I ask. The persistent hum-fuzz breathing in the background begins to fade. Birds take time off. Superman sneezes. He says I am kissing material, very huggable. This makes me blush. I swell at the thought of his super-latives. His house is very appealing with its tall entryway, stone foyer (please pronounce this “foy-yea”, and speak it in a loud whisper into my ear; it makes me crazy to hear the French stubble). Superman lets me use his lathe, his boom truck if I want. Power and tools. Hands so strong. On his property, he has a barn out back that I paint in, up in the hayloft. But then superman and I hit hard times. He says that our relationship is based too much around I, I, I. What do you mean? Self, self, self. We’re monomaniacal, he says. I thought that was Cyclops, I say, trying to be funny, but I want to beat his prime-colored ass. Sometimes superman has super bad breath. Birds come back. I am up in the hayloft, packing up my oils and superman is gone. He won’t be coming back. There has been a resurgence of lex luthors in the sewers. There is always enough love, I say again to myself, and know he is right. I swirl paints on a palette, somewhere in New Mexico. Harshness espoused with fertile dryness. The scent of oils rising to my nostrils. I lift my brush. I let slip a sigh. Color explodes in what I have lost, what I have gained.
My name is Browny Goldin andso is my brother’s. It’s a bit mad really, when someone calls to thehouse looking for either of us, “Howya Missus Goldin? Is Browny in?”
“Which one, Dominic or Eddie, son?” she says.
“Jaysus, I don’t know, Missus Goldin. Just Browny!”
See, none of our pals know our real names. Nobody ever says, “How’s it going, Eddie?” Or, “What’s the craic, Dominic?” Or, “There’s Dominic and Eddie Goldin, the Goldin brothers.” No, all we ever get is “The Browny Goldins.”
Where did we get the name you ask? From our Da. Ma says he used to be a punk, she was a punk too, but only ‘cause Da was one. Not a punk like in the cop programmes on telly, where they call robbers and muggers “good for nothin’ punks.” No, a Punk Rocker. Ma said punks listened to punk music and used to wear torn clothes and had safety pins jammed in their ears and called themselves names like Rat and Flea and Scabs. The more disgusting the name the better, Ma said.
She told us that they used to have mad haircuts too. Things like two foot high pink Mohicans and blue spikes and orange quiffs and all sorts of things. They used to put flour mixed with water in their hair to make it stand up off their heads, that’s what Ma said. She said the clothes were bananas as well.