Friday, May 18, 2012

Dragonfly (page 23)


The next poem in Dragonfly is another rock 'n' roll poem, featuring guitar god Carlos Santana. 'Nuff said.


Carlos Santana in Concert: Berkeley, 1983


The note you hold, pungent and sustaining, novas
into aquamarine. In the car, my cousin Pete was saying,
"What a time, the 60s! Patchouli, flowers, fine ladies
begging spare change, joints, acid, anything."

Now, with eyes turned in like collapsars, you avatar
our childhood, your fingers steeled in rigid abandon,
your leonine head laid back. Play that guitar!
Pete who strums a mean axe himself says, "Schon

and Van Halen — them boys are typewriters, machine
guns! Santana puts more soul in a single note."
Carlos, your lone note spatters from the Mission,
San Francisco's soul kitchen. Stir up your bitches'

brew, your black-magic stew on Latin fire.
Oye, Santana, al ritmo — bueno para gozar!








Page 23


I wonder if I ought to have an epigraph that says "after Philip Larkin" because the poem plays off Larkin's well-known poem "For Sidney Bechet." Larkin's opening line in that poem is "That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes." And later, Larkin writes, "Oh, play that thing!" When I was putting together I eventually decided against the epigraph because the borrowing seemed so obvious that anyone who knows Larkin's poem would immediately see the connection. I'd really like to hear what you think about this.

As with the previous poem ("After the Gig") I changed a semicolon in the title to a colon. As I said with the last poem, the semicolon just seems wrong to me now. What else? The word "60s" should have an apostrophe in front. Decided to leave that one alone. If this poem were to appear in a future "selected" or "collected" volume, I would probably then add that apostrophe.

The character Pete is my cousin Peter Padua. It occurs to me now that I should call him "Peter" in this poem because in our family "Pete" always referred to his dad. I had changed it in this poem to "Pete" for the sake of better rhythm in the lines. I put words into Peter's mouth here, specifically the first quotation. But Peter did say that "machine gun" part in reference to Neal Schon and Eddie Van Halen . . . stole that from ya, old buddy. Thanks for that great bit, cousin Peter!
To pay my cousin back, let me give him a plug. Here's a video of his band, Peter Padua and Friends, performing his song "Jammin' Free." They are playing next Thursday, May 24, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage at the Sunset Market, Oceanside, California. If you live in or near Oceanside, go check out their music. I guarantee, you'll love it.
In terms of form and poetics, did you notice this is a Shakespearean sonnet? Slant rhymes and roughed-up meter. I'm particularly fond of the rhyme between "machine" and "Mission": gotta love that rich consonance.

Music references include the already mentioned ones to Schon and Van Halen. I also allude to Jim Morrison and Miles Davis. As well as to Santana's own discography: "black magic." The ending line in Spanish means "Listen, Santana, to the rhythm, good to enjoy." That's pretty literal. In a looser sense, something like beautiful/marvelous/splendid/superb to appreciate/relish/savor/treasure/dig. Any Spanish speakers out there who could help me sharpen that translation?

Copacetic, friends. I'd love to hear what you think of this poem or anything else here (maybe whether it needs that epigraph attribution, say); please comment below. Thanks. Ingat.

The photo of Carlos Santana was taken by Flickr user Stoned59 in 1984
(from Wikipedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution
2.0 Generic license.)

DRAGONFLYFIRSTCONTENTSPREVIOUSNEXTLAST
   


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is Top of the line! Those words are chosen so truely and wisely!
Congratulations!

Vince Gotera said...

Dietrich, thanks so much. You're not anonymous at all!

Anna Montgomery said...

My mind riffed on the difference between technical virtuosity and artistic merit. The typewriter versus the soul, and when you get longing combined with virtuosic delivery, well then you get musical transcendence. Beethoven. Also, I generally prefer roughed up rhythm, especially with your subject. I can't seem to comment with my OpenID anymore, so I had to try a different approach.

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