Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Charles Ives Spikes His Hair

The marches were over.
The wall was up. We shrank
in its shadow, and shaped our lives
against the future of the bomb
and nuclear winter. Paranoia
was not just the way you did business.
It was the way you made love.

Then you needed to dress
like you'd eat hearts.
Spikes, studs, black leather.
But the only heart you'd eat
was your own because you
were gay and didn't want
your parents to know
or were maybe different
in the way you looked
at fucking others over.

Not like the storm
troopers in their jack boots.
Our boots were big,
but that was only to walk
down those miles of dead-end
roads and kick the shit
out of the way.

I studied Artaud and read
Aquinas. I drank and did acid
until my guts gave way under the blackouts
and my self-destruction destiny

I listened to the Sex Pistols and Ives.
My anger not so much the desire
to rip off someone's head but a way
to deal with the anxiety of being confused
and not knowing why.

The Pistols quit playing.
They didn't want to sell out.
And Ives. He quit composing too.
Sold insurance
and never said a word against it.
Well at least he was honest.

The truth is in the music.
That music that crams old
hymns, marches, and the death
of harmony and rhythm
in a terrifying rush of sound
that bids only welcome to
the new and ultimately
unsingable or playable
need for life.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller

30 comments:

  1. Paranoia
    was not just the way you did business.
    It was the way you made love

    fricking awesome line man...and

    My anger not so much the desire
    to rip off someone's head but a way
    to deal with the anxiety of being confused
    and not knowing why

    explains much of my early life, even as much as music was the soundtrack of it...i was def more on the heavy metal rebellion side of things & cared less because i cared more maybe...


    really enjoyed this man...great write...

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  2. this is awesome charles...and this stanza...

    The truth is in the music.
    That music that crams old
    hymns, marches, and the death
    of harmony and rhythm
    in a terrifying rush of sound
    that bids only welcome to
    the new and ultimately
    unsingable or playable
    need for life....

    ...read it 5 times by now....and it gives me shivers...deeper each time i read it..there is much truth in music...some of them we want to hear, other we would love to hide...it says much more about us than we wish it would..

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  3. Charles! Sex Pistols, LSD and angst are the only things that allowed me to survive a couple of very rough years (and vodka...lots of vodka)...not to mention providing excellent fodder for poetry thru flashbacks and fond memories. We we're out to make the world beautiful...and our fierce soundtrack and shit-kicking boots meant most folks left us alone to sort it all out. They now call me prude...but that, dear poet, is a name earned by choice. ;)

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  4. The truth is in the music (and the poem), magnificent work.

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  5. Rites of passage in our time have traveled down a long road of confusion from the days when the elders took us off into a sacred place and made us men and women. Now we have to do it ourselves, roughly, painfully through scarification, through pain and lust, excess and black leather or black depression. I think everyone's already sliced out the killer lines here, so I'll just say I especially liked the way you brought in the boots. Or put in the boot, depending on how you look at it, I suppose. Excellent, finely sculpted, and not nearly as bitter as it could be. That's the music, I think.

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    Replies
    1. They were Army boots, different pairs of which I'd worn since before the Vietnam War ended. The music somehow helped me make sense of the confusion, emotional and spiritual. It's from this time that I began to think Christianity contained some truth.

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  6. lots of interesting things here -> like fucking people over...hmmm...not just fucking, but fucking them over!!

    and the six pistols and IVES!! wow, what a combination!!


    apollo and the two muses

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  7. "then you needed to dress like you'd eat hearts.......
    but the only heart you'd eat was your own".....there were so many reasons to put on the mask and armour then and you have caught the mood of that time and the uncertainty of so much!

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  8. Outstanding Charles. Not sure I've mentioned it before, but Music is one of my other passions in life. Even when I write I listen to music and as a child, growing up, I don't know if I'd be the same person I am today with those songs that I'd play, many of which I look back on today and can't believed I liked, but even then, the memories of those days are still attached to those songs that play. The way you wove the musical aspect in here is outstanding. Great read. Thanks

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  9. Intense, vivid poem. I also love the paranoia/made love line. And the unsingable need for life. An awkward hard period. I lived in NYC at that time, but was just a bit older, I think, or separate, formed by other influences, though lived around the corner from CBGB's. Ives, of course, Lives. Ives Saves Lives. K.

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  10. Often music is the glue that holds us together and isn't it cathartic to look back and write about why it was so. Strong writing, well said.

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  11. A dark poem and wonderful poem of confusion and self destruction phase .Summa Theologica on acid..what a trip!:)

    I agree ,the truth is in the music and was and is always for me quintessentially in the complexity and purity of counterpoint.Impressive work.

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    Replies
    1. It was one crazy year, I can tell you!

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  12. This line resonated with me:

    but a way
    to deal with the anxiety of being confused
    and not knowing why.

    I enjoyed your wonderful work ~ Thanks for sharing this ~

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  13. You drew us right in to the emotions and feelings of that time so well, Charles. Such a great write!

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  14. Charles David Miller, excellente!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  15. Well done, sir. Full of angst and confusion, maybe loss, regret(?), searching. Agree with Brian on the end of the first stanza, wicked good.

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  16. You make music of the angst..you make poetry of the confusion.. What a write, Charles. Powerful, intense, ".....the unsingable need for life" This is an amazing piece of work! Bravo!

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  17. The cacophony of the music pounds like the confusion of youth, full of passion, yearning; lacking direction, understanding, erupting with questions where answers are masked by the beating of drums. Well scripted here. We all remember. Intense and meaningful!

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  18. The writing in this one is awesome.

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  19. hey Charles,

    as well as containing memorable lines and superb sledgehammer imagery there is a sense of purpose and message coming thru, especially in the final section its as if your describing the backbone behind and the reason for the poems existence - then reflecting on the curve and actuality of the being here and now - all of which makes for a stimulating and thought provoking read... 10-15 years ago, Sids way made sense to me... now i look at Johnny Rotten selling butter on T.V, wearing tweed, and i say to myself... now thats a smart cookie right there... the re-release of God Save in the year of the queens diamond jubilee actually figured in my mind this week and entered into my poetry;

    Paranoia
    was not just the way you did business.
    It was the way you made love.

    i'll take this extract with me... excellent write Charles - good enough to spit at!

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    Replies
    1. Somehow, I missed Rotten doing commercials, or maybe blanked it out? Thank you Aarron for the structural analysis, it's nice to hear.

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  20. Captured so much as you weaved a ton in as well. The angst and want to do more or play to our own beat all have experienced at one point or another and the paranoia, loved that line, as we are ruled by it in many a case by the higher ups who play off of it.

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  21. the comments, brian's claudia's so many others just rip and rip into this poem, i'm with them re-reads just get better -

    and down the line(s) it still

    "bids only welcome to
    the new..need for life"

    i'll take it the ultimately unplay-ableness is just lack of practice ;-)

    terrific piece chaz

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  22. What a hallucinogenic conception! I can imagine this as part of a paean to life with an ambiguous moral compass, lost youth, much like "Howl" was a manifesto of the beat generation.

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  23. Well written and well said as always, Charles. Everyone should have some Charles Miller on their bookshelves.

    My anger not so much the desire
    to rip off someone's head but a way
    to deal with the anxiety of being confused
    and not knowing why.

    Thats the part I connect to most :)

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  24. Your comment floors me. This, however, a masterpiece of reverie, so informed with feeling and a masterful lyrical ease of telling....xxxxj

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  25. I agree with Brian about that paranoia line. Wow.

    This is quite wonderful, and for me about the transformation that can happen in a life, repositioning elements of the past to be useful in the present. It takes a lot of pain and loss to get there, but when we do, we are stronger, much stronger for it. This is really fine writing.

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  27. Wonderful poem Charles, it stands up to rereading. I'm not sure I hear Ives cacophony in the same way, though. The second movement of the 4th Symphony leads to the 3rd, and more importantly, the 4th. It's a matter of the tumult of life energies not just expressing the need for more life energies, but to their transcendence. Owen

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