The next poem in Dragonfly is also a transition poem. Yes, I said that the previous poem was a transition into poems dealing with childhood, esp. in San Francisco. And this one does. But this poem also leads us into another favorite subject of mine:
I made a small change from the original text in Dragonfly. The poem's title in the book had a semicolon after the word "gig" . . . that punctuation just feels wrong to me now, and so I've changed it here to a colon, the more conventional choice between title and subtitle. Also, there are other poems in the book that already use that
I was Yusef Komunyakaa's MFA student when I wrote this poem, and the phrasing in opening line shows some of that influence, I think. Here I'm using a stanza mode I still employ: groups with the same number of lines throughout (here, five) without deference to meaning, as in verse paragraphs. This method can cause strong stanza enjambment as in, for example, the break between stanzas two and three above.
The names of the band members in the poem are actual . . . though I've fiddled with the gear: I played an SG Junior, not a Custom, and Jay had a Farfisa organ or maybe a Fender. (For some reason, a brand name starting with F sticks in my memory with Jay.)
Steve, however, actually had a Vox bass, the short-scale Bassmaster; I remember Steve always had a tough time finding strings because long-scale strings were too thick at the short-scale length to feed through the tuner posts. In the photo below, you can see Steve on the right with his Vox bass (this is, however, of a different band we were in together, three years earlier); click on it to see a larger version.
The Leslie speaker mentioned above is often associated with Hammond organs; it used two spinning speaker horns for a unique doppler effect.
Things specific to San Francisco in the poem are teen clubs (youth groups in Catholic parishes) and the Doggie Diner restaurant. This was a San Francisco-only fast-food franchise, now gone. A nostalgic memory for many native San Franciscans. The picture above is of the Doggie Diner at Mission and 18th. The one our band always went to was at Geary and Arguello. The poem's setting in time coincides with the Vietnam war, and male high school seniors at that time were all very worried about being drafted into the Army. And of course the poem concerns itself more largely with oncoming adulthood. Interesting in this context is that our band in the poem was named Change of Heart. Hmm.
Okay, that's all for today. I'd love to hear what you think of this poem or anything else; please comment below. Thanks. Ingat.
The first image above is a family photo taken by my dad. More info on it is available in the blog post dated 3 September 2011, which also talks about the Doggie Diner. The second image above is borrowed from the website Doggie Diner.com, and the photographer is Chandler White. ¡Viva el Doggie Diner!
Eve of Seven Years of Grief
1 hour ago