THOSE KENSINGTON BLUES STILL RATTLING THROUGH

THOSE KENSINGTON BLUES STILL RATTLING THROUGH

Something about the Kensington Blues. The way the L train yo-yo’s through everyone’s backyard. Toxic grit and refuse spattered across abandoned lot lawns. Contrast between condo and dilapidated dive bar. Brooklyn style gastro pub and abandoned warehouse. City of shells quickly being filled with new hermit crabs.

The setting for what once was a community of strong guitar savants. Those who stuck around seemingly rising to nostalgic fame. And yet, in their songs you can picture them sitting by themselves in their living rooms twiddling away on some chord progression that has the harmonics and melody of this desolation of peak capital.

Over and over again the same chord like a drone. Causing the body to whirl like in a dervish. An opiate nod between K & A. Soundtrack to post-apocalypse. Wild westerns just across the border in East Kensington.

It’s three or four songs in when the Solar Motel Band really starts creating some electric friction, and Chris Forsyth is shredding his guitar cable against the fret board amassing a wash of noise that shocks the inner core, when I realize all this while how the musicians of this corridor have developed not just their own style, but a pseudo-language in which they respond to one another. The former music scene that used to reside here now dispersed, replaced, growing up with new parts, but still these guitar heroes offering up their twin stacks full of feedback. I wonder if this song now being spun is a nod to Purling Hiss or Birds of Maya or going back even further in the lexicon to acknowledge the art warehouse foundations scoured by Bardo Pond.

The language in its current evolution a pop rock that speaks to a wider audience, and yet sets it on repeat in order to break it down, piece by piece, until the whole shit has gone up in flames, and then they rebuild it. Bass rumbling through a fine walk around town, while guitar flutters between verse and solo and static and wall of frequencies both angelic and alarming. The audience stuffed into a dark, low-lit room, with an open window to the L train and Front Street as the backdrop to the stage. A “Renaissance painting” of viewers looking in from the outside.

Almost five years gone by since I left this neighborhood to the vulture capitalists, only to come back and find the artists have dug into their trenches and become even more prolific.

There are dream tones in the Kenzo Haze that impregnate even the most obstinate transplant. Perhaps the language between these guitarists is not theirs, but the land’s. Open terrain that was consumed by a wave of development, and yet still there are still these white elephants of warehouses glowing brightly under the moonlight full of such brilliance waiting to be repossessed. The great art factories of the River Wards.

It’s almost midnight and the song, at least now an hour and half long continues to hum out into the open air. It seems to say, “This ain’t the Grateful Dead. This is the Grateful Living!”

I wonder what the passengers on the L train rattling through these Kensington Blues are dreaming of tonight.

THOSE KENSINGTON BLUES STILL RATTLING THROUGH

The Urban MYTHOS

THE URBAN MYTHOS

The Zen Lunatic sits at the center of the garden and pulls at the mugwort. His motions are deliberate and fluid demonstrating how he is one with his surroundings. This little patch of Earth amidst the concrete chaos surrounding it. Attentive to detail, over the years he has carved out this niche for the concrete to rewild.

As he pulls at the roots, he talks about the herbs and medicinals and wildflowers that surround him that most people would consider weeds. He talks about the dead nettle and the red clover and spring mint and of course the mugwort.

“Last year, I really whacked away at the red clover and I don’t think it was too happy with me. It just didn’t flower that much, even where I wanted it to.”

“But I thought we gathered the red clover last year.”

“No. That was two years ago.”

“Oh, I thought that was last year.”

“No. That was two years ago.”

“Oh.”

“This year I’m just going to let it do what it wants to do. And I think we’ll both be happier”.

He motions me over to where he’s standing and points at the pathway in front of us.

“I think the plants have finally figured out where they’re supposed to grow. They’re growing in these borders around pathways and then where people walk there’s more of this groundcover type stuff that lays low to the surface.”

He kicks at the ground to show how low lying the plants are where there is a pathway from people consistently walking on it over the years. Then he shows how the ground is sinking in some places.

“I want to build a multi-level terrace around here leading down to where this tree is growing. But I might need a team for that. I could probably do it myself, but it would take a while.

“That’s something that always impressed me about this land. It has so many interesting contours and subtle slopes for the plants to navigate.”

I snap a photo of a pair of red Air Jordans hanging from the telephone wire glowing orange in the golden hour of the setting sun. It’s interesting to me how the background of the photo is what makes the photo. The shoes alone describe the setting, but they need pieces of the setting like the one-liner tags sprayed on the concrete wall in the lot across the street and the water tower a few blocks away beside the back sides of several dilapidated rowhomes to describe perfectly what the shoes represent.

I snap another photo of the new Comcast tower downtown framed by two abandoned row homes and a whole bunch of wild space from where we stand. I talk about how I could post these photos on Instagram but I don’t think the audience there understands the language they work in.

“It’s like an old language that I was used to when I first moved to Philly that you could find all over the place in publications like Megawords, but I don’t know if anyone pays attention or knows how to read that language anymore.

“Like the language is saying this is blight and that is the ivory tower of corporate powers that profit off the poverty here. But there’s also beauty here. Like the land is rewilding out here. It’s free. It’s a jungle. It’s a type of landscape the people that live over there have no understanding for.”

He leads me over to the mugwort border wall near the entrance in front of the Aztec sculptures that greet all who enter.

“Look at this pathway here. The garden grew this one all on its own.”

It’s a natural zig zag in the clover and mugwort. It’s like a giant snake slithered and sidewinded through the garden recently. I look at the dragon sculpture next to me glowing red and orange with a beard made of flames.

“Hey, man! I think it’s that dragon. He came to life and slithered through the grass.”

“Yeah, man. It’s like the garden grew a tail.”

The Urban MYTHOS

Poets For Peace, tour no. 8: day 1 – recap

POETS FOR PEACE

Tour no. 8

Day 1 – Richmond, VA: recap

on the road with Marian McLaughlin (@marianmclaughlin) and Erin White (@movedtomove)

An ease of being settles upon the car as we leave the congestion of DC and enter the South. We write haikus into the car register, noticing the redbud tree blooms and the state mantra, Virginia Is For Lovers. Romance is on the horizon with the fabric of nature waking interweaving with the road.

Richmond is a green city with trees growing out of ruined mills and the James River flowing through providing relief for the 80 degree temperatures. Our host for the evening @earthfolkrva is a giant farm in the middle of a residential area of Southside. The residents are out working the land and already the land is rich with herbs and produce. We have several stages to choose from between an old farmhouse built in the late 1700s or the backdrop of a vintage camper. We decide to use the white facade of the garage for projections as the sun goes down.

Fellow Earth Folk arrive, and soon the night kicks off with a special charm. The White family is there and Erin’s father has brought his bluegrass band to set the mood for the get together. Appalachian lilts that set the spark to light the bonfire, as golden light reaches the trees from the sunset and all the birds above cry out from their roost sharing an excitement towards the evening’s warmth.

Erin and I perform haikus with accompanying movements and behind us a pack of Coydogs start to howl and wail their approval. This little patch of forest. Maintained by noble stewards. There is talk of the land and its original inhabitants. Meeting grounds between the Powhatan and Algonquin. The exchange is scored by Marian McLaughlin’s odes to the change we are seeing to the planet in our lifetime. Receding wilderness and extinction of species.

The open mic begins and in the voices I hear how synchronous it is the folks who have gathered here. True Earth Folk. Fellow Earth Lovers. Truth Seekers and Fairy Kin. Their words describe the experience to be one with nature. Wild Folk fearless before Late Stage Capitalism. The spirit they offer to the land is enough to save it for future generations.

Poets For Peace, tour no. 8: day 1 – recap

Updates for the forthcoming novel

Writing a novel has been really good for all of my other chores. I find a million and one excuses to keep me from actually sitting down and writing it. Today it was folding my laundry, fixing my bike, shoveling snow, taking a shower, and oh wow! now it’s already time for dinner. Yesterday and the day before I rearranged my room and set up my bookshelf. I even went to a Walt Whitman-inspired open mic and ended up winning runner up in a competition for $100 to see who had the best Whitman-inspired piece of poetry.

That piece was written on the same road trip that this novel is about. We started the trip reciting passages from Leaves Of Grass in the voices that Kerouac and Cassady must have used when they were traveling on the road together back in the days when the Beats were still learning how to rhyme. Eventually we were writing pieces in the same style and one of them that I read last night was judged as second best in a room of Whitman scholars.

The piece is a list of all the cows I saw on the road from here in Philadelphia all the way to San Francisco and back again. A play on the pastoral, set in every type of landscape both urban and otherworldly you can see in this country. Using this nation’s top industry to describe the beauty that these bovine often cause environmental havoc upon.

I guess for me, what stuck out about Walt Whitman is the sense that he’s always making lists. Listing the tiniest details about an odd assortment of working class people and their environment to create a collage of the industrial revolution he witnessed in his lifetime in America. He talked about both the positives and the negatives but let them speak for themselves. And in a sense there was romance in all of the things that he saw, even if some of them were terrible.

The cow piece was a fun piece to write. I had fun having a chance to let it be heard out loud. Didn’t expect much in the way of competition so was happily surprised with its reception.

Anyway, back to the novel…I think it’s a good one. I want to share it with you before it’s published. Open it up to a dialogue. Let you read the pages I’m really proud of.

Like the chapter I wrote last week about Yosemite Valley. I just read it again this afternoon. About ten or fifteen times. That’s another thing I do while writing this novel. Get hung up on chapters that I’m really proud of and then second guess myself that I’ll ever be able to write something as good again. Forget that there’s been plenty of bad novels published that have still been enjoyed by someone. The trick is to just finish them.

So yeah, I’m still writing. Today I’m starting a little later than I would’ve liked to and that’s okay because it’s a miserable winter day outside and I took care of all my other errands that were bogging me down. I’ll keep sharing my progress as it comes.

If you’d like to read the poetry about cows or that chapter about Yosemite Valley go take a look at my Patreon. You can throw me some doll hairs and read my writing. The support will motivate me to keep going on it. Maybe I can even finish it by the end of next month and get started on the next one. There are two novels in my head that have been sitting patiently while I finish writing this one. Anyway, I’d love you to see its pieces and to hear what y’all think. I have a feeling the campaign will be constantly evolving as well, so expect more announcements and other rewards to develop.

Thanks for everyone who’s taken a peek over there. I know there’s plenty of other things to support right now. Travel made me more humble and I’m content with however it all turns out, but think it’s fun to share the process.

Become a patron: http://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

Updates for the forthcoming novel

Haiku #1021


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing around with old haikus. Here is a haiku I wrote while hiking in the redwoods last January.

If you like what you see here, become a patron!
http://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

You can subscribe to access more content like this, as well as see snippets of my forthcoming novel.
Only $1 a month and you too can #TravelByHaiku! Any support will really help me out this winter.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Feel free to SHARE with other haiku lovers if you think they’d dig.

Haiku #1021

Haiku #1010


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing around with old haikus. Here is a haiku I wrote beneath a waterfall in the desert of Boulder, UT last September.

If you like what you see here, become a patron!
http://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

You can subscribe to access more content like this, as well as see snippets of my forthcoming novel.
Only $1 a month and you too can #TravelByHaiku! Any support will really help me out this winter.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Feel free to SHARE with other haiku lovers if you think they’d dig.

Haiku #1010