the colour of our lives

poetry • celebration • faith • nature • humanity • imperfections • glory

fretted

open strings growl, hiss, buzz with
bad-tempered, minor key blues;
the hammers are nearly drawing blood
and fat bruised thumb, booming out
metronomic, hypnotic and low

bend and slide, whack that half-
dozen and make then sing in pain,
metal on metal, knock of sprucewood
and mahogany warmth, cradled, head
bowed, jaw grinding like fretful dreams

whole, restless, body pulsates in turn,
in time, breathing like stolen cocaine
but music is the only drug. heaviness
purged; singing, with eyelids squeezed,
voice filling the empty room, and

frettedsurprised by the new sweetness,
fingers chancing major riffs, rhythms
slow, soothe, clear notes smiling
to the sun and heaven. indigo notes return
and resolve, shining, melodic.

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12 thoughts on “fretted

  1. “whole, restless, body pulsates in turn,
    in time, breathing like stolen cocaine
    but music is the only drug.”
    oh my goodness, so good.

  2. This is exactly how playing the guitar makes me feel… Except I only know a few chords and nothing of what it means to be blue… but the experience is universal 🙂 And you have captured it flawlessly!

    • Thank you Jessica – and thanks for visiting. The poem puts words to a real experience; most of my private playing is improvisational, where it’s possible to get stuck in a rut, but on that day this tune came out which, most uncharacteristically, was kind of catchy and poppy in an aging-folkster sort of way. Think Luka Bloom perhaps. Can’t stop playing around with it now…

  3. You make me wish I could play guitar. Or anything. I wish I could experience it the way you describe it. Admittedly, if I had any talent whatsoever, banjo has the most appeal to me. Meanwhile I play the cd and get as close as I can.

  4. Thank you! I have come as close as I ever have to an ecstatic spiritual experience when listening to music (some abstract jazz by John Abercrombie, I recall; I don’t even have the album any more). Banjos are very cool, love that fast fingerpicking. There is a local band called the New Age Sensitive Cowpersons who do a bluegrass version of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – laugh-out-loud funny and actually very well done.

  5. I can see music producing a near ecstatic experience. For me, music is most often closely associated with time periods from my own life and conjures up the complex of emotions I have connected to those events. Occasionally, particular pieces of music are transcendent, I guess, not connected to events but to some higher order of experience. Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” is one of those. I cannot listen to it without being undone. And generally, only instrumental music can work transcendentally like that – words seem to ruin it.
    New Age Sensitive Cowpersons is a great name for a band. We have been listening to an Australian group called The Waifs; my daughter Judith “discovered” them. Do you know them?

  6. I am still new to listening to them so I can’t say yet. They are country/bluegrass. It frequently takes me a long time to learn how to listen to new music. Every time Cockburn makes a new cd it takes me a while to catch on to it, for example, and I take that as a sign of his artistry, that he always pushes me to a new boundary.
    There is another Australian group I haven’t heard in a long time that I like a lot, the Newsboys. In a sense they do “Christian music”, very evangelistic, but they at least do it well.
    How about some recommendations from you on blues to listen to? To one who is fairly ignorant of the genre, but interested.

  7. Couple of favourites at present… Kelly Joe Phelps, especially his earlier albums (Roll Away The Stone, Shine Eyed Mister Zen) and Eric Bibb. For Aussie blues, if you can get hold of them, Andrew Winton or, for a more electric sound, The Bondi Cigars.

  8. Absolutely fabulous! 🙂

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