“How Can I Write of Transformation” – need a djimbe tonight, 9:30 open mic, Jack of the Wood

Gonna rock this poem at Jack of the Wood tonight – 9:30 open mic.

John L
Wish this guy was in town – he rocks the fuckin’ djimbe.

But it really wants a djimbe accompaniment – and so far I only kind-of have one. This guy at THE BLOCK off biltmore Friday night said he would bring his drum, but he’s not too confident of his skill level and I’m not sure he will actuallyshow.  I’ll do it without – and will totally blow it out by myself – but without the drum I just can’t take it to the total fever pitch it is trying to reach.

I put out a call to the guy who helped me with the poem at my poetry concert last spring – and that worked real well for both of us.  (Him, after: “there was one place where I kinda lost the beat, but then I got it back.”  Me: “I never was aware of you losing the beat – you pumped me up just the way I wanted you to.”)

The djimbe part is really easy – see the yellow-highlighted djimbe cues.


Back in the Spring, Lynn Rosser asked me to write a poem for the Singers spring concert. I was honored – and asked her about the theme. She told me that it was, “Transformation – Awakening to the New Consciousness for Our Time”. I said, “Cool” – then went away and realized that I didn’t have anything to say about transformation, or about consciousness, old or new. So I got back to Lynn and said that, for me, the theme for the concert and the song list were just a little too relentlessly upbeat – and that I would need to contribute something that would be more “grounding”. Lynn had the intuitive wisdom to not immediately warm to this idea: “Uh, OK.” Then I went home and proceeded to completely act out: I wrote the darkest poem I could possibly write – and had a total blast doing so. Needless to say, you did not hear that poem at the concert. I think Lynn might still find it horrifying, but I still kinda like it. It’s called “How Can I Write of Transformation?”


How can I write of transformation

When I am so angry?

How can I speak of

My better angels

When today the demons run the show?

(Djimbe enter, softly)


By beating me into submission

By a thousand humiliations

Has lowered the bar for me

So many times

And I still can’t help but to

Keep going under

How can I speak of expansion,

Of transcendence

When I am so contracted,

So depressed?

I want to expand within, not without

To go to the dark heart

Of that black hole within

Which is not just mine

But a human thing

How can I speak of my higher self

When I have just screwed up again

And hurt you as I did?

And then you told me how that still somehow worked for you

The sweet thing that for you happened next

(Djimbe picks up pace and volume through whole rest of poem, until right at the end.)

May I screw up in all the just-right ways

If I must be an ass

Make me Life’s holy ass

May others ride on my mistakes

To where they need to go

Lord, help us –

Make me an instrument

Make me an instrument of your divine chaos

Let me surrender any claim

To be evolved, to be further down the path

Make me Life’s great

Role model from hell

If others may not want to be like me,

Then let my screwed-up example

Make them want to be

More and more like them.

If even he can keep moving,

Can put one foot in front of the other

And trust that they will take him somewhere

Then so can I”

May I lead the troops

Further into the swamp

Than man or woman has ever gone

And trust that somewhere

In this gooey, putrid mess

There lies an orchid

A magic jewel that transforms

The mud in which we are encased

Into the heavenly armor that allows us

To fight our way to the gates of hell

Crash through

And be burned alive

Into the phoenix we were meant to be

If my road must be the low one

May I not settle for just

Both feet on the ground

Life, make your drill bit

To the center of the earth (Djimbe quits)

It may hurt like hell going down

But I want to see what’s there

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