The Actual Music Behind the Poems in My Book

There are a number of poems in my book (Any Psalm You Want) in which I reference certain pieces of music. I thought it would be helpful to share them with you to accompany what was written in the book. It may add some context and color, though it may be better to read the poems before hearing the songs. Either way, here goes:

Poem: How to Make It Gospel. Link: Jerry Lawson, “House of the Rising Sun”

Poem: Charles Riley. Link: Lil Buck’s version of the ballet solo from “The Swan”

Poem: George Gershwin Writes Janis Joplin… Link: Joplin singing “Summertime”

Poem: Leadbelly to Kurt Cobain. Links: Leadbelly singing and Nirvana singing

Poem: Ada, or 23 Letters… Link: Excerpt from the film “The Piano”

Poem: Esperanza Spalding… Link: The video that inspired the poem

Poem: Paid in Full… Link: Coldcut’s remix of Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid in Full”



2/15 poem

She was a quiet one. But once I got on a bus
and she was there, both of us pleasantly surprised,
and at one point she’d closed her eyes and the sun
bore through the window onto her
from behind, and it was as if she and it
had conspired to lure me all of her.

Interview Project: The Next Big Thing

I got tagged for this book interview project by the awesome and talented Jason Bayani, who was himself tagged by Sally Delehant who, last year, released her first collection of poems “A Real Time of It” . You can purchase at the link. The basic premise is a series of writers with recently released and upcoming books post it on their blog or webpage and then tag others to do the same thing next week.

What is the working title of the book?

Any Psalm You Want

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It wasn’t a concept thing. I basically knew I had enough quality writing to compile the poems into a book. So first I went with the poems that I felt were strong enough and also wore my most current voice. After that, I narrowed the poems down to those that could comfortably share a bed together. Of course my perception of “comfort” and “bed” and “together” may be a little unusual. But hey, it’s poetry.

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry, Séance.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

A shitload of black people. And a few white folks. And one Mexican lady. So whoever could fit those roles are welcome to be cast.

Visually, the film would be a little opaque. The sound would run through your skin and stick to the bone.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

This is, more than anything, a music book, in both content and style.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

They were just about all written within the last four years. Most of them within the last two.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I had a quietly tumultuous handful of years, and these poems were what appeared during that time period. There is a through line, but it’s more of a web.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you’re into unpredictability, you’ll have fun reading this book from start to finish without skipping ahead. It’s an intriguing ride. Also, the beginning of the book is connected to the ending, though it may not seem like it. I bet you’ll find the link.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Any Psalm You Want is due to be published May 2nd by Write Bloody Publishing. The preview link is here:

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Lillian Bertram

Michael Mlekoday

L. Lamar Wilson

poem: farmer’s land (after mike mlekodaj)

I’ve never kissed a cherry plum. Taste buds,
they remind me of peach fuzz and butter
and I want to drive downtown to Farmer’s Land.
Not for the farmers so much as the veggies:
I love the way they cleanse you of preservatives
and the washing is a bobbing for apples
by kids with haunted birthday jaws.
All I can think of is their munching.
They sounded like they knew the taste
of home in their chest
that wouldn’t digest until you understood
their stories. Mine is about trying to catch
locally grown cherry plums.
It’s the closest we come with our groceries.

That’s why I drove down to the Farmer’s Market.
Ditched ol’ granny smith in the river
and fished her out like a savior’s wife.
I learned that nobody actually speaks in tongues
’til they’ve licked raw tamales and now?
I’ve swallowed tamales. Down here
we call it the burning. I think it’s a better flavoring
than gluttonous seasoning and Hector Tabasco.
Who needs a super store when we’ve got the market?
We have a shack back there but we only use it
for packing our compost and recycling.
There’s something humbling about a farmer’s
daughter that goes way beyond two-for-one deals for yellow squash
and the exhaust in her eyes. Thou shalt not steal
our customers with your more-earthy-than-thou rhetoric.
We all learned how to feed, just sometimes not with our mouths.
You should fasten yours.

We praise every scent in the air. Sing “What’ll It Cost”
like escort soliciting. Call me hippie and I’ll kiss
you like you were Janis. We bless each others’ trees
before working the fields and these trees get holy.
Our corn is raised from dust—like kola nuts—like framed
glass—but there’s more to us than tasty berries.
We each got a story rattling in our hickory haunt bellies
but you don’t even got the time to ask.

I’ll bet you think we’re all a bunch of subsidized
bad math, shower hating hicks.
But I only know one vendor like that and her name is Patricia.
She plants carrots in the backwoods.
You know she means it when she tells you to pocket your wallet
and hands a grinning pumpkin to your mother.
On the night her daddy cried about the mortgage
the first thing Patricia did was beg forgiveness
and burn her barnyard apartment. She survived.
The Autumn Ghost is with her. We are all signs and scarecrows
like God drives around in his Horse and Buggy
dragging the bumper just to splinter a piece of His cross.

Leave your grocery lines. Leave your shopping carts.
Leave your indoor salad bars and come here.
Here where the harvest comes every Saturday
and every Thursday we’re starved again. Come.
Feel our dirt salting your cucumbers—it is blessed.
Learn to speak in tongues, call it organic
if it makes you feel hipster. Come: feel
this sardine parking lot ecstasy, this sweet
spinach revival, this twisty soft pretzel of the soul–
the soul—a stone bird sculpture uninventable–
a wrapped sandwich built of entrees like vegan beans
and seedless melon immortal—the soul—you’ve probably never held one before.
But then again, I’ll bet you’ve never kissed a cherry plum.