Friday, December 1, 2017

Our Laughter Stills, Driving with Irene Wild and the Crew to New Paltz

We drive upstate for Thanksgiving every year. 
Its a break, a place to eat, to talk, to tell stories.
Usually, I ask for stories. 
And then try to share a few myself. 
Its family, it drink, its the cowboys. 
Most of all its storytelling. 

One year, i went to see Pete and Arlo play together that weekend. 
Then Pete died and Arlo kept playing the Carnegie hall shows.
We go to the Mohonk instead. 
Kate used to see Pete and Arlo with her family.
Then, one by one, they shuffled off, mom, dad, Kate.
She tried to go by herself. 
But with no Pete, Dad or Kate, she couldn't make it. 
Got as far as putting on her shoes.

I always think of Tom sitting in the chair at the old house before we left. 
Now he's no longer with us. 

Some years we listen to Pete recall Woody as we drive, 
or kvetch about this person, recall that song.
Aunt Caroline joins us for the ride.
The gals gossip. 
I chime in if there's room. 
Snap a pic of the bridge before Garrison. 
And the cowboys lose. 

Friday, the conversation only continues. 
Al and Wyatt and I talk about Frank Zappa and T Rex playing with Ringo star and Elton.
The children are always reinventing the revolution. 

The girls  play the new Pussy Riot video. 

Does your vagina have a brand?
Let your vagina start a band
If your vagina lands in prison
Then the world is gonna listen

My vagina is tough and dangerous
Shaking up the major labels
Vagina gonna take the stage
Cause vagina’s got a lot to say

Don't play stupid, don't play dumb
Vagina's where you're really from

My favorite line is from verse two: 
Put your pussy on a diet
Then paparazzi gonna start a riot

Al and Penel play Irene Wild.
Jako plays with Ian in all american alien boy.
Don't want to vote for the left wing - don't want to vote for the right
I gotta have both-to make me fly

We say goodbye and drive up to visit the homes of the gilded age,
wondering if we are entering a new one. 

Grandmom joins us at the Mohonk, where we hike into the sunset, taking in the sublime, walk with the sky.
She doesn't walk much. 
Can't make it out to the greenhouse. 
The kids are older, wanting to do their own things.
We dream long dreams.
I wake up at read Victor Frankyl.
And the weekend passes between skates and hikes, meals and cards, a trip to Rhino records, making our way back home, driving with Irene Wilde. 

Irene Wilde
When I was just sixteen I stood waiting for a dream 
At barker street bus station every night
When I tried to get it on she just looked at me with scorn my courage
Turned to dust and I took flight
For those looks they seemed to say
You ain't nuthin' go away
You're just a face in the crowd so I went home and I vowed
I'm gonna be somebody someday
Her name was irene wilde oh such beauty for a child
When she started dating boys I nearly died
For I could not barely stand to see someone hold her hand
I felt I had to crawl away and hide
In my mother's living room I composed so many tunes
All the same just a frame for her name, and just to say
Gonna be somebody someday
Wild as your name I soon left that country town
I been

Poem: To New Paltz 

On the road to New Paltz
we stuff our mouths
with sandwiches from the deli
that seconds as a drum shop,
laugh hard, drink up the wild air
that rushes in from 287
and takes our breath away.
You shriek when Bowie comes on the mix I've made;
between your squeezing my hand
and the sign for the Tappan Zee,
my favorite childhood bridge,
I am a kid pinned in blue ribbons.
You point out the Gunks,
the white-faced mountains
that have just peaked from our horizon,
and squeal how we will hike them one day,
swim like fishes in their shale-bottomed lake,
pick their wildflowers for our hair.
In town we buy records and notebooks,
you lose me in a bookshop
I find you barefoot against a cracking wall 
and take your picture, 
too beautiful for earth 
let alone a photograph. 
We sit by the river and unbox our new compass, 
you point it North and tell me a story 
of being lost in the woods. 
You kiss me hard, 
and I promise
you will never lose your way again, 
that between me and the compass 
it's impossible. 
On the way home we are tired, 
the mountains and water 
fade within the red blur of taillights 
our conversation quiets 
our laughter stills; 
my forehead on the window, 
I peer down into the dark, steep embankments flashing by 
and wonder if some promises are impossible 
and what they would look like 
broken on the rocks below. 

A tree grows at the Mohonk.

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