Friday, December 29, 2006

The emberless journey

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Sometimes Walking

We say little as we punish the distance
with the tread of our silence. Coyotes
move in much the same way. Only when
the agony of a lesser light crests the evenscape
to spill its roar of driven rising do they find
it irresistible to stain the sky in kindred ache.

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Inside, we are a nimble clash of scumbling
weather quarried from clouds crashing like
clumsy slabs in the hovel of a blind sculptor.
What we want to say, what we choose to say,
what we fear to say assures quietus as we block
unspoken rehearsals in our heads. Giant saguaro
stand resigned along this pointless path, their
scarred arms surrendered and shouldered up.

In the dirt, we see travel in rattler and gila,
their common names given to raven ruckus
and rabbit wind. What it was we didn’t talk
about, I do not recall. Sometimes walking is
enough and these things work themselves out.
The proven poultice of a needless journey
often takes one farther than can be supposed.

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Whatever it was it was gone, passing with our
passage through the overlook. There we stopped
to gauge rest and run our eyes across the red
canyon where ruin and remnant huddled against
sheerstone walls. There, amid broken olla and black
char left from ancient fires, people like you and me
once stood circled in their trackless hush, allowing
the emberless journey to bring them here to ours.

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We thank them for their sacred keeping, return
to tend time in our own time, and with our turning
leave to the desert more than it lent to us. Sun
settles into ocotillo like a bird nesting a comfort
we can only imagine. Soon the far lights will appear
and we will come to change into what we become
when this moment draws. Later, we will talk about
what powerful communion we shared, feather it into
a fetish to shake true and shapeless as good medicine.

Joseph Gallo
December 12, 2006

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We are born and we become

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Life After Life
For Sharry & Richard

We come into the air and it hurts. We grieve water;
ache for the flood of mother. Slowly we immerse in
the rigors of newborn glaciers. Year by year we learn
the deep languages of orphaned fossils, learn to recognize
the plaintive wails of mollusk whose music moves the
locked current through formless days we feel no anchor to.

So we buoy without ballast; move in ways that seldom near
the margins found in settled comfort, tetherless as the
ghost of a jellyfish. With eyes unable to distinguish
true purpose, we square our lives wondering about life
after death. Do we continue? Is there more? Does death

promise beyond this day’s provision? Is mystery negotiable?

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Seldom do we consider another alternative. We are born
and we become. What we compromise. What we pilfer.
What we bargain or swindle. Sometimes we are graced
with plenty, undeserving of the blithe fortunes that veer
from so very many. What we earn in this is a kind of
territory within our own skins. Sometimes it is a bed of
razors settled at the bottom of a barbed sea. Sometimes,
a glazed hammock swinging gently in the sleeping sun.

There are miles to walk, we hear someone say, miles
to go before we’re done
. What is this step after step?
Is it what we decide to become next year, or what we
gladly abandon to a mulch of futility? Tomorrow you
will open the same door, stand rubbing your eyes on the
same porch, before the same path that leads to all the
others worn thin by routine, where you connect to the
wear of your daily trod. For a moment, there will be a
brief window before the first footfall. And in that time,
before the world has its way with you, before you follow
an alphabet scrawled in brave sand, there will come a pause,
a chance to ask yourself this: Is there life after Life?

Joseph Gallo
December 12, 2006

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In memoriam for Richard Bomer Manzullo
(July 19, 1967 - December 12, 2005)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Alone I bear no shame

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I Kill For God

I kill for God and country
My family waits at home
For me to bring the bacon
And sweet meats from the bone
Of those whom God has sent me
To help Him take their lives
So they might know the bosom
Left empty in their wives
For revenge and territory
I have marched on city gates
Lain hidden in the wheatfields
Where the reaper worm awaits

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Yes, I kill for God and country
I am His holy triggerman
Gone forth in psalm and silence
A sniper in the land
Thou shalt not see me coming
Thou shalt only feel my will
As I steady aim and fire
And execute the kill
This is my solemn duty
My allegiance unforsworn
A pledge made blind and faithful
Where loyalty is borne

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On absolute obedience
Of men who will not ask
Or question why they do this
Who complete the given task
Who kill for God and country
And carry proud the flag
Of destiny and empire
That cloaks the body bag
I kill for God and country
To rid the world thereof
Both infidel and atheist
To spread the gospel Love

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Yes, I kill for God and country
Alone I bear no shame
For who will stand in trial for
These things done in His name?
These things done in His name?

Joseph Gallo
December 9, 2006

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All photos by Joseph Gallo taken May 2004 at the
Living Memorial Sculpture Garden & Labyrinth

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The long shadows fall

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December Light

The long shadows fall across the early walk.
Like dark knives sensing Christmas geese,
they lengthen to preserve the flavor of fine
cuts. The reminisce of summer plums sweeten to
stain the morning, breaches round margins that
rupture in pressed surrender from damson skin.

Love is like this. When leaves have retreated
into the branch that burst them, the red-gold
scatter that trailed autumn in a slow robe lies
flung like a hunger befallen first time lovers.
New breathing sweats the uneven glass; light
moves with a purpose not rendered apparent in

the first cup. November has yet to recoup its
unceded mystery. There is no hurry in snow.
The false blue of these Prussian skies will not
anchor the promise of favorable weather. Cold
pretends no conscience and whatever shelter one
despairs must be sought in the huddle of another.

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This is the way of winter. Sun will hoist you onto
its hydrogen shoulders, allow you to kettle your
brief bones as you take in the grandeur of fire and
fallow fields. You may bask in the root labor that
once seasoned the rows only to bow graceless and
underscored, an adagio in the mute yield of nutrient.

The long shadows fall across the late walk.
Like cloistered ravens they convene and confer,
pass law in the immutable language of evening.
Leaves and lovers, robed summer plums slip like
summoned knives into the sheathblock that stills the
deep rouse, dulls the sharp flint of December light.

Joseph Gallo
December 5, 2006

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Monday, December 04, 2006

A small bird of twigs and clouds

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I happen to have one of those brains that can remember a song or piece of music after hearing it only once. Not perfect sonographic recall, mind you, but pretty close. I can readily resummon the gist of a piece enough so to play all or part of its melody line on the piano, guitar, cedar flute, or violin. I was simply born with this not too uncommon antechamber in my otherwise tonospherical tracthouse soul.

Generally, it's something in the melodic structure, the articulation of one of the instruments, perhaps, an overall arrangement or singular emplacement within the soundscape, however simplistic or complex. Whatever peculiarity might have been present enough for me to warrant the focusing of my tympanic lens into taking a synaptic snapshot of it, I've done so with maddening regularity archiving thousands of compositions permanently within my musulla oblongata, retaining nearly perfect pitch and tempo.

Such is the case with the piece below.

For ages I've been trying to find this beautifully haunting song with no luck. I heard it on the radio only once, some thirty years ago. I remembered the words and melody of the chorus; could hum most of the verse melody, but could not draw up the words.

And I remembered her name.

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With my hasty induction many years ago into the realm of the internet, I mistakenly searched for what I presumed was the title. I was wrong. I tried several different word combinations, phrases I knew were part of the lyrics, in every woefully lacking result-swollen search engine of the day, music databases uploaded from the bowels of Bogota, Napster, Kazaa, all to no avail.

The song title was not as I supposed, (The) Wind's Gonna Blow, but rather two other words that followed in the chorus. Had I considered them, it might have sparked my investigation to flint success, but would have robbed me of this evening's unexpected delight.

I remembered the chorus verbatim and it was there I rightly supposed the title to be. The words that make up the actual title were, in fact, securely caged in my memory. However, I was erroneously fixed on the words that began the chorus, not at all what trailed in the last line. Musician's myopia of a sort.

Thus tonight, by some starry trick of Googlance, I came across her name, which took me to her website, which winced me to squint keenly at her discography, which led me to discover the actual title of this distant song, which, whenever it crossed my mind in the tumult of those enduring years, never ceased to produce an upwelling of tender endearment within me.

I was so long ago charmed by the pendulous lilt of a tempo that made me feel as if I were arcing high on a dreamswing in slow motion, breeze-swooned in dappling light beneath late afternoon trees. It's all still there, better than I remember it; still as introspective and wistful.

It begins not unlike Eric Satie's reveried and evocative Gymnopedie and proceeds to gently propel a lyrical theme of living life on life's terms, swifting across an embracing sky like a small bird made of twigs and clouds.

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Written, performed, and sung by the incomparable and prodigious Wendy Waldman, you may listen to her song by clicking here: Wild Bird. Lyrics exist here at Drachenthrax, I'm happy to report, and I hope I've listened well and recorded them correctly. Please, enjoy and let me know what you think.

Wild Bird

Here by the fireside
Whoa, I can see
Your glowing face
Comin' to me
After it's over
What will there be
Just a breeze through the lace
Like a soft memory.

Far on a hilltop
My soul it does dance
With the wonder of knowing
We were given a chance
To know that we took it
And gave of our best
The poets and singers
Let them tell of the rest.

Oh, the wind's gonna blow
The wind's gonna blow
Nothing to do but let
Your wild bird go.

Deep into winter
My dream will live on
And the feeling of wanting
A time that is gone
The silent uncurtain
Of each pleated thing
To watch it go shimmerin'
As it flies into spring.

Oh, the wind's gonna blow
The wind's gonna blow
Nothing to do but let
Your wild bird go.

Wendy Waldman
(from the album Wendy Waldman, 1975)
[Color photos by
Michael Boshears. Digitally enhanced for non-
commercial purposes of illustration and fan appreciation]

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Eleven minutes and change

From the haunting documentary film, Baraka
1992 - Produced by Mark Magidson & Directed by Ron Fricke
Music - The Host Of Seraphim by Dead Can Dance (7:15)

The Carnival Is Over
by Dead Can Dance (4:31)
(from Into The Labyrinth)

The storm clouds gathering
Move silently along the dusty boulevard
Where flowers turning crane their fragile necks
So they can in turn
Reach up and kiss the sky

They are driven by a strange desire
Unseen by the human eye
Someone's calling

I remember when you held my hand
In the park we would play
When the circus came to town
Look over here

The circus gathering
Move silently along the rainswept boulevard
The procession moved on the shouting is over
The fabulous freaks are leaving town

They are driven by a strange desire
Unseen by the human eye
Someone is calling
The carnival is over

We sat and watched
As the moon rose again
For the very first time.