Posted on April 13th, 2011
(ed: To celebrate National Poetry Month, I embark on my most ambitious, artistically questionable endeavor to date in the Add-Verse series: man-handling Chaucer. I dedicate these efforts to my most beloved medievalist, my mom: little did you know what reading Piers Plowman to me as a bedtime story would one day engender. Fair Audience: should you read to the very end of this offering, email your mailing address to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. I will send you a limited edition sticker, you glutton for punishment, you.)
When April with his bathtub fruit
The drought of March has given forth the boot
And bathed every swain in verdant liquor
The flower of which turns all tongues quicker;
When Zephyrus has with Aperol breath
Inspired in every cocktail’s heft
The tender tonguing, in the bright young Sun,
The spirit of the Ram whose powers run,
To the tune of many birds
Who may yet sing the evening’s dirge
To any drunk whose words barrage–
Then long imbibers to go on pilgrimage
And senses to flood with strange new brands,
In bottles held in yet-unknown hands.
And specially from each pub’s dark end
In Jersey, they to Portland wend,
The holy fire water there to seek
Whose brimstone stronger wills makes weak.
It happened that, in spring season, on a day
In Newark, at the HoJo’s where I lay,
Ready to start on my pilgrimage
To Portland, there to pay homage,
There came that night to my balcony
Some drunkards in the company
Of a local band who chanced to call
My room, and inebriated were they all
That towards Portland needs must bum a ride.
The van I held had benches empty and wide,
And gas money had they, weed of the best;
And in short order, when dark had gone to rest,
So had I toked with them, every one
That I was of their road crew baptized anon,
And in agreement we were that onward we’d drive
The westering road, as you shall I apprise.
And here shall I tell, across time and space,
Before further in this tale we pace,
It seems best to illustrate every one
Of my fellow travelers, each mother’s son
As each man did appear to me,
Their likes and tastes, degrees in Philosophy,
And how they spurned the Red Roof Inn;
Here with lead guitarist will I begin.
A lead guitarist there was, and he a Journey fan,
Who, from ere he first did strum, began
To believe most constant, loved Steve Perry,
Arenas, sponsors, and all maidens undergarment-free.
Full worthy was he at his gigs in bar,
And therein had he shredded (each finger, scarred)
As well in Hoboken as in tri-state quests
And lauded ev’rywhere for pick worthiness.
At Maxwell’s, he, when song had run
High kicks from table he’d oft begun
Above all patrons heads who hushed
In parabola a leg swung he, and crushed
Errant fingers oft to a blue degree.
In far Philly at the Khyber was he
Oft in New Haven, and the Middle East;
At Roxy and Lounge Mercury,
When they were done, and gone off to pee
In many a restroom, a groupie chanced to be.
Of battles’ band he had fought fifteen,
And title defended from rock un-obscene
Three times in charts, and each time topped his foe.
This self-same lead guitarist had been also
At one time seen on SNL
There monologues to botch to hell,
And always sung he despite good counsel wise.
And though inebriated, still his music prized,
And possessed the number of many a maid
In whose arms he’d unthinking laid
Whose apartments still he means to call
But never will, through herb’s slow pall.
But now, to tell you of his array,
His guitars were gold, like hot noon’s hay.
Of simple denim he wore trousers tight
Bearing the leavings of many a night;
For lately had he come from tour on stage
And now he was going on this pilgrimage.
With him there was a booking agent, a foolish hire,
A hanger-on and a lech’rous bachelor,
With hair combed over, as if stretch’d to duress.
Of fifty years of age he was, I’d guess.
In stature he was of a rounding girth
Bearing gut that out-hemispher’d the earth.
He’d been some time with the band you see
Crafting riders whose contents fed him free
And bore him Oreos on platters apace
From craft services hastily to his face.
All tanned he was, as if he were in sun
With hair stiff-gell’d, teeth white to stun.
Flatulent he was, or tooting, all the day;
Killing all freshness found in May.
Short was his jacket, with sleeves ill-fit for stride
To the back we sent him, for length of the ride.
He claimed to write songs, and begg’d the right
To sing, at each stop of the van at traffic light.
So little loved he that, while Bieber we reviled
Gratefully we played him all the while.
To stopper up his offerings lyric, crippled
By gin from hip flask that oft’ he tippled.
A puggle had he, named sadly Juneau
In whose company he chose to travel, so;
And he was clad in a sailor suit of sateen,
In shade of most violent aubergine
Below his collar rolled flesh in a sea
(well-wrinkled was his squat dog’s body:
small balls unfix’d hung full and low),
And about his neck he bore a sprightly bow.
A dun coat had he, and a pushed-in face.
Of barks knew he all the useful brays.
Upon his back a fanny pack grey,
With contents dubiously legal, yea,
For to enhance the lonely night
That saw no sword being sheathed a-right;
On head dark spot of brown did gleam
And snout of wet and healthy sheen
A hound he truly was, I guess.
There was also a girlfriend, a makeup’d mess,
Who, in her whining, loudest was, with joy;
Whose chief exclamation, groaning drawn-out ‘Oy!’
And she was known as Tina Porpentine.
Full well she smoked the orange rind,
Exhaling through her nose, surprisingly;
And fair she spoke in cuss, most fluently,
After the school of Funds-In-Trust-To-Come,
For money of her own had yet to be won.
At table became she bestial,
White Castle prompting manners’ fall,
And visage smeared across with sauce
Fingers bright with grease be-gloss’d
Errant crumbs of beef upon her breast
Dropped from sliders attacked with zest.
Her upper lip with sweat be-sheened
And mayonnaise on tooth oft did gleam
With oil, when she had drunk her weight in wine.
Unbecomingly, she belched much like a swine.
And certainly, was no traveling sport,
But, reliably, for each band’s ship, a port.
She was at pains to manufacture that artless look
Of Vice’d-ness, and jegging’d arse she shook
In venues with seeming uncaring glance.
But whose composition was naught but chance,
She was so artful in her carelessness
Each bright bauble there to impress
Those with her knowledge of brands obscurely bred
By whose cost three families’ worth might be fed
By purchase of one pair of frames
Her red-ringed eyes a refuge gained.
Vintage true, along knee her garment passed,
Her nose not hers, thanks to Dr. Glass,
Her lips were full, in color painted red;
And certainly she had a broad forehead;
Upon which eyebrows bristled forth, I own
For, truthfully, they were not undergrown.
Her jacket spoke of membership singular, I was aware
With tribal patch she’d mend the errant tear
Whose threads were a shade of neon green
Offset by one inch pins’ dull sheen
Some band from Stratford-Upon-The-Blah
Whose name, ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’.
A best friend with her, Beth was she
Whose parents thought Tina ‘nice’ most foolishly.
A flutist she was, with wry tongue mastery,
A maestro, who loved most lustily;
A womanly lass, who brought skill to table.
Full many a bass player had she in stable;
And when she rode others might her whistle hear
Throatily low, potent like shot of Everclear,
Aye, and as loud as does the tolling bell
Would Beth give shout, with tale’s ending tell.
Our tale’s bassist, Maurice, of East Botherwick,
Was one such steed that Beth had picked
To put her vibrato through its pace
And left once musically embrac’d.
He cared not, he said, for that flute-mad hen
But we felt his words belie’d when
The wall he punched, to soothe his breast,
Though his eyes remained most waterless;
That is to say, he cried not a single time visible.
(But upon his pillow lay rime with stain unbiddable);
And I said his punches spoke but true.
What? A bad hook up one is allowed to rue
In private of one’s monkish cell, or yet
In journal chronicled with both one’s tears and sweat,
As Phil doth bid, good Dr. whom Oprah hath serv’d
And with forthrightness many a man unnerv’d.
Therefore he was a writer day and night;
Words he penned, as quick as birds in flight.
Hoping stage would one day bare
The contents of each heart’s chambr’d air.
I saw his hand smeared with poor Bic pen
A darkened smudge unmoved when;
Soap would scrape the knuckles rough,
And coarsen beaten skin more tough:
A love-dart’d scar each tired finger was.
The nails cut quick, moons white like glass,
Called milk, collected by wives in times before.
Long was his frame, he stood at six ft. four.
Roped forearms with sleeves rolled about, and not
Muscl’d insufficiently with practice got
His boots well worn; his instrument of great estate.
Had he played not bass, school’d was he as prelate:
Not wan and wasted like some paling ghost
Turned he to metal from bev’rage holy, and host
His tunings were brawn, his pluckings cherry.
A front-man there was, most coy and wary,
A warbler, a very restive man.
In Octaves Four, like none other can
Save Beth Ditto of Gossip, in full throat barrage
Rending marriages moot with rock’s language
And women young, many a panty tossed
Onto stages wide, at fair modesty’s cost.
Well dressed by all whose standards would be
Woolen and plaid, boots rough country,
And with the beard woven thick to the crown:
Hiding red lips confessing with power renown’d
longings publicly secret, whose singing did rate,
torches carries aloft, and lo, other dudes’ hate.
Such confessions made gently, sung as though read
Absolving the lonely, of wanting ex dead.
He was easy with a troubled glance
When sensed he that confidence it would advance;
To a sighing maiden, tokens given
That she of pants might well be shriven.
For if he gave (he oft did boast of this),
A moment’s listen to besotted miss
He might still bend her to his art
And virtue from her quiver part.
Therefore, instead of proffering earnest prayer,
Rock would but strip her of each cloth’d layer.
His pockets were stuck always full of picks
That no guitar did pluck, to give to chicks.
And certainly he kept many scented a note:
These he did fashion to verse by rote.
And in balladry stole these syllables away
From maiden’s throats to audience’s sway;
Yet loved was he still, ever rock’s champion.
In bars across Jersey, ev’ry jukebox’s son,
And every good tender, each bar maiden too-
Better than family, whose addresses eschew’d.
For unto no such crafted a presence as he
Agreed to it, by manager’s decree,
Should have safe backstory, nor square acquaintances.
Happy childhood has songwriting disadvantages
In stealing such dollars as may be incurred;
From desire for pathos, her tunings heard.
And so, when interviewer’s query did arise,
Aloof was he, and avoidant of that eye.
There was no other frontman so mysterious
He was the finest dissembler yet near to us;
A certain state claimed having kin to him,
Whose newspaper’s editor he did trim
From payroll struck with no news to show,
And privately, the truth did blow,
To point under carpet, its breath there spent.
There rumors did die, despite facts evident.
Aye he could sing lines dark as sea-borne kelp
But in dish-washing was of little help.
For there he was not like a laborer,
With willingness to cope with poorer chore,
But in aspect made like a lord, or the pope.
Of work-wheel’s task he did semi-cope,
But left done half-well, as you might guess.
He wiped but little, out of laziness,
To make surfaces only the sun outshone;
And in his shirking, he was not alone,
His tongue may twinkle, but no dirt did blight
His brow’s fair reach, on frosty night.
This dandy singer was named Benjamin.
And there also a roadie with long beard like d’jin
Of shirt Motley Crue, and high on joint most fat,
Upon his head a belov’d Beavers hat;
His moustache drooped ungallantly.
Through bristles puffed breath near constantly,
In pattern strong, according to mood or jest.
Marlboros he smoked, kept tucked in vest
Across from Middletown to New York down.
In hot dog there to lose a crown.
This silent man kept all drum kits set;
Many a stick-wielder East in his debt,
So well versed was he in all skin affairs
With toms quite tight, like-taut in snares.
Indeed, he was a learned hand withal,
But no name he, did fellows call.
A journalist from Hartford was with us also,
Who’d watched Almost Famous most rabidly so.
As meager was his language as his knowledge fake,
Slinging copy for Pitchfork his goal to undertake,
But he was too late, we told him soberly.
Their forums threadbare now, it being not 2003
And no one cared what opinions put forth
By his shabby pen, which knew not worth.
But rather would he still press on in hope
And by scribbling, about his neck, a rope
Of tired tropes, and musicology
Learned in late night screens of discography.
Yet, for all he was an earnest sort,
With hopeful verse did he disport;
Hoping little to be paid at journey’s end
But with the band’s members but to make good friends,
And a podcast launch, with all those souls
For to rake other bands across hot coals.
Of brewer’s art took he utmost care and heed,
The fruit of which they might yet have need,
And hopping held he in high reverence
As bright IPA did give forth good scents.
Full of ‘tasting notes’ was all his speech,
And gladly would he drink, and gladly teach.
A lawyer too with us, wary but wise
And on matters legal too oft to advise,
Speaking also, too soon over breakfast.
Urging dalliances discreet, and short to last;
Fearing diggers of gold, grasping fingers’ prise.
And in Kanye did find most staunch ally,
In extolling protection of assets shown;
Letting not net worth be broadcast, nor earnings known,
Lest royalties be lost, no Bentley owned.
So great a Svengali was as of yet, un-boned.
Each member a dollar sign, in effect,
All musicians, fees waiting for to collect.
Nowhere a man so busy as this one was,
And yet found he time to keep brows groomed above.
All cautions and judgments’ tales spoke he
King William himself wouldst feign apoplexy.
But contracts clever, their words explicit
No gold from contents could wench therefore elicit;
And ev’ry song kept from grasping hopeful dolt.
He saved from copy, safe as secret holt,
As though locked behind stern bars,
Though of his suits, he was less particular.
There was a Deadhead in our company;
Grey was his beard, as was dear Jerry’s.
Of each traveler mentioned, he asked their sign,
Allowing no member this question to decline.
‘Free love’ in living was the goal he’d won
Long ago, leaving many a fatherless son,
That held his long absence in quite dim a light
Far remov’d from eye, and heart’s glad sight.
A lover of food, however, as all stoners be;
Thomas Keller of Bonghit, aspired he.
His mac met with cheese, cheddar yellow as sun;
Of pinots forgotten he knew not a one.
Slim Jims kept in storage safe from tooth of a mouse,
Forever proving afresh fine companion of souse
And it seem’d to snow Parmesan and good drink
Caring little, he left larger drifts in the sink.
He preached ‘farm to table’, and seasons held dear
Championing leaves of kale as a means of good cheer.
Full rashers of bacon in frying he slew,
And pork belly confit danced in dishes anew.
Woe to those watching their weight as it were
His snack barrage to bear, cheeses old, ripe with fur.
His table, an amp, laying down the long way,
Spread groaning with lardons at the end of the day.
At jam sessions was he crowned ‘King of the Shire’,
For hobbit-like habits, and pipe smoke most dire.
A serape and necklace of Tibetan raw silk
Decorated his paunch, white as daybreak’s new milk.
He’d ‘shot the sheriff’ with Clapton, done hash with The Doors
But of Dead once made Grateful did ever adore.
A weed-seller and stage carpenter/weaver
A shirt vendor, merch printer, stuffed beaver
Were along for the journey, clothed indifferently,
As were all other members of indie rock fraternity.
Their gear was well-loved, and be-stickered it was;
Their shot-glasses gummed, their knuckles, faux brass,
As most hipsters do quiver when fights come to tell
Their tales via punches, fear of bruises that dwell.
Each man of them appeared in Apparel American, thus
Hoodies white with strings pulling, mouths ripe to a cuss.
And each of them able long history to span,
Of bands known by none, having stayed in their vans;
Full useless their knowledge, full late still their rent,
Their last dollar on Prussian cigarettes spent,
Or else on sunglasses, of brand no known name.
In darkness their eyes sought hangover to blame,
And vodka, forsooth, and tomato to see,
80 proof, hair of dog, turpentine was their pee.
A caterer with them, on whom Jerry did pounce,
With suggestions most bold, oft involving ‘an ounce’,
All rejected tartly, with glare like a gale.
Telling him both ‘to stuff it’ and ‘stick to thine ale’.
Well she cooked, and loved roasting, when kitchen she had,
Now with Sterno and one pot, turning ‘good’ into ‘bad’.
Ill it was, so it seemed, at least, to me,
That of fingers for chopping had she left, only three;
But of pudding she crafted more well than the rest.
A tailor we had, handy man with a vest;
Strangely, at Dartmouth, had he learned to gown
Though more fleece than silk is found in that town,
And canvas for pants, double-thick at the knee.
Pockets plenty for stash, and of pens, at least three
To mark measurements neck, under arm, and down.
Meaning ‘inseam’, lines grasped from some areas brown;
And certainly, he was disposed to be mellow.
Full many a drought on pipe he’d drawn, that fellow,
Of Californian vintage, and the best he kept
Safe to consume whilst companions slept.
For vision he fought, and would on principle stand,
For flat front trouser, in homes widely to land.
But as for craft, to knot well all his ties,
In ascot, four-in-hand, and Windsor, besides,
His labors did move, but more his visage,
There was none so handsome, in bands called ‘garage’.
Hardy, and wise in all cocktails shaken,
By many a bottle, band education undertaken.
He knew well all the bitters, loved best dear Cynar,
But Aperol too, and Campari’s red star,
And old Bourbon’s brown reek, and Vodka’s clear rain;
He even had a flask christened ‘Dear Madeleine’.
Along also, acupuncturist, called Dr. Physic;
My back all with needles I allowed him to prick
For relief from old tension, risen in driving;
Celestial beings did sing, when off it went writhing.
He often was patient with skeptics who ‘quack’ did call
His natural gifts, believing them magical.
Well could he tell from arm hanging pendant
The source of the problem in our drummer ascendant.
Quick knew he the cause of each grave malady,
From repetitive use, or drunken sprained knee,
And despite frequent ribbing, was oft of good humor;
Quoting Arnold in practice, putting forth ‘not a tumor’.
And the cause being known, to the source, to the root,
Swiftly gave remedy, and to illness, the boot.
Ready he was, with all needles in good carry,
And soothed patients new, for whom needles were scary;
By much mutual trust and sweet talk patients won-
In keeping men whole, a new friendship begun.
Well read was he in fiction, loving Franzen
and Updike, sporting bathing suit Jantzen
while paging through saga Forsythe,
of Cather a fan, and Murakami, and Rushdie
quite the literate fellow, a bibliophile was he,
and devoted to verse, from themes tender to obscene.
In diet, a vegan, and in judgment most free
Off’ring impolitic advice, on the fruits of the tree
But loved just as well, in spite of these. It’s no libel
To say he ate junk food but little, whole grains as his Bible.
In sweatpants scarlet was he clad, and sandal
Worn with socks, fashion’s favorite scandal;
And yet it mattered not, such was his grace
From daily yoga practiced, with peaceful sense.
For in all matters bodily, health was his goal,
And therefore dogs downward of many did toll.
And strange, but no stranger, was our front man’s dear Mother
Who heard praise only for son, was deaf to all other.
At making band breakfast, she was great in a tent
And bettered meals on whom entire paychecks were spent.
In all the shore there was no better wife
Of higher hair, on this I’d bet entire, my life;
And if one such coiffure were found, full wroth was she
It put her nose out of joint, spared no charity.
Her aprons were of finest golden Lamé thread;
Thought she one into which class had been bred
Ate she fish on a Sunday, carefully shorn of a head.
Pantyhose wore she not, but clean shaven of leg
With pumps heel’d high, in leather quite new.
Drawn on, her brows, of startling black hue.
She’d been delectable throughout her life,
With five husbands to show for it, having taken to wife,
Our fair lady when she was in her youth,
And again when not young, of her age, none spoke truth.
Three tours she’d been on, with band named Jerusalem;
And many a hotcake rendered forth unto them;
At Philly she’d been, and she’d been in Dakota,
In Iowa at Des Moines, and in North Minnesota.
She could tell much of Wisconsin, and cheese by the way
Gap-toothed, cheddar stuck, and there it did stay.
Upon air-inflated cushion, she easily sat,
With well-dimpled fundament, and knitted many a hat
For each band mate’s pate, keeping warm was her charge;
About her buttocks tucked a Snuggie, color purple, size Large,
And on her feet a pert pointed toe heel
Circulation from her feet had both ceased to feel.
Of love potions claimed she knowledge, gathered from France,
As all knew there international the tongue of Romance.
A good man there was also, of mushroom religion,
Not the sort in an omelet but ones that give vision,
We called him The Parson, for his holy outlook.
His passion mycological, quite seriously he took,
The fungus’ own gospel he sought truly to preach;
Devoutly all travelers would he gladly teach.
Gentle he was, and in biology diligent,
To save all from poison, in mushroom belligerent,
As mistakes, often made, when one hunts the new
And is not yet well-versed in which fungus grows true,
And advice would give, as to pick without doubt
Bounty from forest floor, cast widely about,
And potent in nature, as stimulants should.
Be if they are able, should they be thought good.
Wide was his smile, in beard lay asunder,
Loved he the rain, that on Oregon thundered,
And hunted in sickness, or in health, in state,
For all mushrooms living, from small to the great,
Going barefoot most often, with reason, he gave.
Shoes made of muscles more weak, of wallet, a slave,
This did he say, and to all comers taught.
To the way of the Vibram, had he yet to be brought,
And his figure was fit, with no fat added to-
His joints far from rust, his arms, iron true
For if earth’s fruits be foul, in which fruits do we trust?
What wonder if government men hope we lust
For drugs made in labs, profits states get to keep,
The law made impure, in drug money, well-steep’d.
Well ought a forager good example to give,
Of bountiful gifts upon which one might live.
He never let his harvest be left in the mire,
But plucked it forthwith in a good clean perspire,
For purposes pure, thought he like old priests of Gaul
And in partaking thus, upon spirits to call,
Their wisdom to give, kind advice not to withhold;
But given to men, as in long ages old
That never band took as just rambles from Jerry;
He was a spiritual man, learned, if hairy.
And stoned though he was, and garrulous,
To cops he was not yet impiteous,
Nor hasty in his speech, nor profane in kind,
But in manners both circumspect and benign.
To lead folk into gathering by swearing less
Was his dearest wish, a strange personal quest.
If some diner proved dim, or enamored of ease,
Thinking of Velveeta that it was quite a cheese,
Him he thought ill of, quite tartly, I know.
But nowhere forager better, truly, I trow.
He had no thirst for wine lacking terroir
Well versed in grenache, and in pinot noir,
The grape’s own lore, and the vine’s deep delve
He spoke of to others, and learned for himself.
With him there was a hunter, in relation a brother,
Who once shot a buck, and next weekend, another
But careful in use, a true hunter he,
Wasting not hoof nor hind, in arts butchery.
He loved foie the most, and all organ meats’ parts
And cooked them oft well, with a delicate art,
Loving next bacon, as could well be expected.
He’d cure and he’d smoke, leaving poor cooks dejected,
Who thought to best him in any matter ‘cue
His ribs, oh so tender, and theirs—tough as shoe.
A libertarian mostly, but fair-minded as well,
Giving ear to all sides, if truth they might tell.
In a hoodie oft-clad, whose elbows were bare.
There were also a harpist and a banjo man there;
A lady who sang, a fiddler, a drummer,
That all these and me fit in the van was a stunner.
The harpist, a lady, quite tall, be it known,
Pale of long hair, and fine of bone;
Which natural did prove, to make plucking easy
Eschewed she all beverages of provenance sleazy.
She was a slight maiden, slender of build;
Leaving scent mild, from flowers dead willed,
And quiet, though humming, with song in her head.
Her hands often chapped, and colored bright red,
But fine nonetheless, for her craft all well made.
Upon the sloping of her nose, freckles laid
The sun’s small leavings, strewn midst errant hairs,
Upon her arms as well, and the tips of her ears;
Her nostrils small, pierced upon one side.
With diamond stud, a grain of sand, no more wide.
Her mouth a curved line, like a beckoning door.
For each word she spoke, you’d want one the more,
But spare were her syllables, like poetry.
In sentences daily, sometimes speaking just three;
And yet not one wasted, all making you glad.
She’d make young men stammer, old men, feel a lad.
Her harp played she sweetly, in rills most well known,
In echoes historic, from time’s unseen towns.
There was a fiddler as well, from Blue Ridge’s vale,
From whence all true masters would say to hail
And in his art did excel, but in breath, did he stink;
Of cheap cigarettes, and all domestic drink
He little knew of brewmastery, and so came to buy,
PBR, Miller Lite, as though raised in a sty.
Now is it not humorous that he should hope to pace
To Portland, there to share beer’s grace?
And spirits too, to drink with fellow men?
Of whiskeys, knows he naught but ten,
All named ‘J-Mo’, in taste as dust
When compared to product of old Scotsman’s lust
And fit not to drink, when arrayed against
Any beverage found within Highland fence
In whose sweet amber lie spirits good,
Whose powers are drawn forth from the wood,
And in poets verse they do inspire;
The pleasures therein enumerated, of The Shire
In whose sweet green the rain does fall;
And yet this fiddler knows not this at all.
The frailer of banjo, a slender stooping man
Who shaved his beard never, lest his girlfriend can,
His services as swain, and box his ears;
His hair likewise shaggy, like a puppeteer’s.
Long were his legs, and in stature lean,
Built like a staff, with no fat to be seen.
Well could he manage a waffle binge,
No professional eater could against him win.
He cast a spell, in banjo plucking plain,
Of cascading note, like summer’s rain.
That all sheep and cows, e’en those most contrary,
Would sweeten in mood their forthcoming dairy,
And in whole milk put forth such fattening
As would make cheese makers burst to sing,
Since affinage great was blossoming forth this year;
When milch animals chanc’d his tune to hear.
There was no bovine that yet whose teat
Was safe from such auditory treat,
They were enamored of him as much as breath
And danc’d forth upon the heath,
To come at once to his frailing place.
There to hear such music, with notes apace.
Rich was he then, in love, if not fat,
And in dairy too, stored cold in vat,
Proving at once soundtracks make good,
The dairy from that yonder wood.
In youth he’d plucked for drink, had been
Not choosy then, as hungry ween.
This plucker most pithy could spit bon mots,
As handily as Wilde, or Byronic Scot.
A Pendleton jacket did he parade,
Upon his person, in wool well-made.
The hills called home, and his banjo’s tell.
No deaf ear the pickings upon had fell.
Lanky as branch, and prone to stoop,
The most well-meaning lad of all our group.
A songstress too did grace the van,
Of talent made as of tin can,
For voice she had, full strange in timbre
Though in octaves full, in throating limber,
With short black hair and pointed ears
‘She’s likely an elf’ one oft did hear.
There was no color whiter, seen on a visage
No skin more pure, nor cleaner marriage,
Between snow’s first breath and spring flower white,
Or wolf’s bright tooth that seeks to bite,
Such was the pearl’d sheen of her cheeks.
Well loved she garlic, onions, and pale green leeks,
And port wine too, that warmed the blood;
Then would she sing as normal woman would.
The wine softening the high strange call within
Turning notes more clear, to English from Latin.
Some songs she knew, say two or three,
Of the lengthy catalog our front man had decreed
We each must know, by end of day,
She rolled her eyes, and said him nay
And called him ‘meat’d head’ and ‘dope’.
Rejecting hand that sought to grope,
And grasp her form’s soft philosophy;
Just as fishermen yearn for touch of sea.
She was a fiery sort, but of heart most kind,
A better driver you’d be hard-pressed to find.
Why, she would take the wheel, for nigh fourteen hours,
Driven by combination of unearthly powers
A travel-mug, of Red Bull full
Enough in strength to kill twelve gulls.
And if she nodded off by chance, crossing yellow
Lines on road, you could but bellow,
And straight she’d wake, with muffled curse
To right the car and all in berth;
Such focus though, on road had she
That one might think she drove professionally.
But well I knew her in all things amateur;
In baking bread, her loaves most sour
And in them killed all flavors’ taste
Flour and yeast therefore a waste.
In ales unschool’d, as most were here ill-eased,
Which gave me leave, them all to tease,
And Portland-ward, our party led.
A garland sat upon her head,
Of Christmas lights, unplugged, a snake
Of Holiday, whose cheer we might take.
And last, but not least, a drummer gentle
Whose diet chief composed of lentil,
Straight from town of Rome, New York, came he.
Nobly he pounded the skins for thee,
And hoping to woo our lyrical maiden with toms most round,
Coaxed forth from them turbulent wall of sound.
Hair as yellow, as the crayon’s wax,
Answering primarily to one name—Dax;
His beard most wispy, as was hair on his head,
Male pattern baldness did he daily dread;
Counting each hair dropped, on brush, by one
Hoping not to wake to find there none,
And loved he brews of a Belgian style.
In whose perfumed depths he hoped to while,
And ling’ring lost, to stay in there.
Until none would notice head nearly bare.
He had in wide array, ten caps.
His wallet shorn of green, it flapped,
Full gaping wide from Rome to Jersey hot.
Until gigs they took, and payment got.
Despairing of beard, that he should never have,
His face sparse-haired, still soap did lathe,
Upon it in vain hope it’d bear
Some fruit for razor through to tear,
But no such luck his beard did grace.
Still, he had not such an unpleasant face
To which maidens were not wont to wail
About when seen, but dream of veils
That they might wear, upon marriage bent
With a drummer whose rhythms seemed heav’n sent.
His syncopation unlike that of a Rolling Stone,
Its force full hot, felt deep in bones.
And in his playing, he forgot anon
The bald spot that stage lights shone on
And in drumming stood there to gain
As much respect as hirsute swain.
And thus, with patterings leaving mouths agape,
He ruled the skins, as man did ape,
At least in this world, not Heston’s last,
Bass of thunder, with sounds bombast.
Well could he pound, with tightened glory
In staccato folds, a tattoo’d story,
For well he knew that each song sung
Upon rhythm pinn’d, and thus, the drum.
Loved he spirits silver, and tastes of wood,
And drank deeply, as of the could.
Now have I told you briefly, and here must pause
In describing our number, to speak of our cause
In assembling this noble company
Of rock obscure, and albums, three
Known as Jerusalem, though of Jersey’d dwell.
Here a tale of another city to tell
Where spirits sweet do soak the night
And bless the tongues on whom they alight.
And of Portland speak, and you engage
In telling of our lengthy pilgrimage.
But first, I pray you, some sweet courtesy,
And pardon all our youthful rough vulgarity
We speak most plain, but with good cheer,
Of gin most strong, and golden beer,
Hoping to use those terms, whose meanings lie
In cocktails strong with bracing rye,
Whose stories old are fashioned new by man,
In Oregon, as best as all they can,
Each tradition use, if they remember it,
And brewer’s art, never to quit;
Lest lessons be but lost, and tastes there too,
The poorer still our tongues to woo.
We may yet dare, although to quaff another,
Drink may spell dialing drunk one’s mother.
We speak but broadly, but still, with wit,
At least we hope, but are not sure of it.
And Plato says, according to sound check Steve,
The word should be kin unto the deed.
And so, we hope you’ll drink here with me
And these fine folk, of musical degree
Here in this tale, with ales put forth to stand
And flasks of pewter quick to hand.
And find great cheer in our host, every one,
In describing imbibing here anon.
And sup with us virtually, on dishes of the best.
Strong in palate pure, each honored guest.
May I seem a good host, with wherewithal,
To tell this tale, in booze’s thrall.
And describe herein myself, my eyes,
As of yet un-bloodied, and blue besides;
Bold in my speech, in Chaucer taught,
Hoping such skills I have as yet, not ‘naught’.
By English degree, to ape a man,
Long dead ere this parody I began,
Speaking of alcohol, amongst some other things,
In his grave readying forth drear reckonings,
And saying halt! Yea verily
You mock my art, most heartily,
Yet by my truth, dear sir, no lie,
I have but thought your grace to try
And capture, in verse written words of now.
The poem I learnt to speak, and how.
In college, long gone by in thought
But not long at all, as mem’ry ought
To give Canterbury back, with goodly speed
The way a drunk would take to meade-
And drinking deep, once more find the way,
These words to shape, and sounds to say,
That I might when this rhyme hath done,
Befouled not history, nor professor none,
And therefore will I undertake this sport
And hope in earnestness provide comfort.
And if you like it, all, by one voice assent,
And will stand forth in my judgment,
And will so do, as here I’ll say,
Tomorrow, when hangovers hold their sway,
Then by Chaucer’s spirit, who is dead,
You are displeased, I’ll give to you my head.
Hold up your hands, stopper up who speak.
Our agreement was not far to seek;
We thought there no reason to consider twice,
My undertaking here, with no real advice,
And I bade you give me leave, and counsel wise
Should I o’erstep the bound’ries and earn disdain;
For laying Middle English bare and plain,
That each of you may see this day
What lesser bard might mean to say
On subject Portland town, and matter booze
In going there, the best to choose,
And to know true mastery of drink in fall.
From tenders bar, who know them all,
That is to say, who drinkers goad
To stay and tarry, and shunning road
Have liquid supper, with money lost
But knowledge gained, in ice cube’s gloss,
When we venture forth to Portland town.
And there to quaff strong spirits down,
And gladly, poles on stage to ride
And music make, and sausage hide.
Our girths to widen, in the Ace to stay
With blankets wool, in color, gray.
And if you agreed, that’s where we’ll go,
And if not I beg you say not ‘no’,
For you have yet to see what lies in store
In this mad undertaking, whose completion swore
I yet to make, this tale to tell, also,
Potables not forsake, nor drinking forgo–
And so gathered we, by van as bus,
Such tales to tell, in doing thus,
And gas to pump, of outrageous price,
Wishing we’d taken Willie’s wise advice,
In traveling by fuel of bio, to save a cent,
But stymied by oil-ruled government.
And thereupon, the gear was fetched anon,
The roadie gathered, amps every one,
And that with much labored ferrying.
Next morning, when day began to spring,
Up rose I then, to cries of ‘quiet, Cock’,
Though it read eleven upon the clock,
And forth we strode, through lobby paced,
And quit ourselves of HoJo’s place.
And in the van, gradually, did talk,
Of music notes, and cooking wok
Until the set of westward sun.
Then even-song begun we, to a one,
Arguing who might start to sing one first,
While the rest of us might quench our thirst,
And flout the laws of government
That say no open can’s contents be spent.
Come now, said I, draw straws, begin
The shortest of which game shall win.
Lead guitarist! No, I shall not call you ‘Lord’,
But draw first then, don’t wave Nerf sword.
Come here, he said, grasping Tina’s breast,
In view of music journalist,
‘Now let’s all draw straws! Every man!’
At once, the whole band’s grasp began
And, to cut it short, you might surmise
Whether by chance or cheat devise’d,
The short straw fell to lead guitar,
Whose eyes did twinkle like proverb’s star.
To sing first song, the notes to tell
In tenor sharp, as ringing bell,
That we’d all heard. Why argue with it though?
A good song’s timeless, that’s what makes it so,
And being quiet and now patient
We gave freely our group’s great assent,
He sang: And thus began our game,
Of passing time in songs that came
Upon our ride, to light our day.
And when dark fell, to clear the way,
That we might travel forth with cheer,
Upon quest bent, that quest: good beer.