The first 100 days of the Trump Regime were weird times for just about everyone. For me, Mom died the day before Inauguration Day. I spent a couple weeks in N.Y. helping my sisters take care of estate matters. There was a lot of sorting and dusting and quiet.
It was during these 100 days that I also started to write again.
This included 4-, 8-, and 12-line poems of the political. All written in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, I compiled them as Ballads Under New Regime [Reprise] — a title I had used during the Bush Administration 10+ years earlier.
At the end of June, musician/poet/friend Jed Myers collaborated with me in a one-night session at Jack Straw Studios in Seattle. I read the poems and he underscored each with acoustic guitar, harmonica, or tambourine.
We’ll release all the ballads Oct. 5 for listening or free download on SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Stand by. For now, here’s “Packed Up And Ready To Go” the opening track, talking about all the talk about moving-to-Canada talk.
**This is the third poem I wrote with the title “Why Joe Strummer still matters.”
***I can’t find the draft, but we were standing in line at Seattle’s Showbox for the Mescaleros that night. A taxi pulls up, Joe Strummer gets out carrying a guitar case and enters the club through the front door (this was before they added the metal detector gate). No rock star trappings, just a guy going to work. Shouts of “Hey, Joe!” from those of us in line and a nod from him.
****The other was written the day he died in 2002 (I was walking downtown and heard a sax player in the bus tunnel entry) and was included untitled in Punk Poems:
Sax echoes / Through the underground– / There was a line / Drawn– / We always knew / What side to take– / On the street / The player blows / Each / Note–
“Spleen” is a riff on a Baudelaire line from “Good Dogs” in his Le Spleen de Paris.
I sing in praise of destitute dogs, under-dogs, whether those who wander all alone through the tortuous ravines and gullies of the vast metropolis, or those who have said to some old outcast, with a wink of their witty, spiritual eyes, ‘Take me along with you, then perhaps we can make some sort of happiness out of our two poverties!’
Elvis Costello releases My Aim Is True on July 22, 1977. E L V I S I S K I N G E L V I S I S K I N G is repeated in reversed single letters in the black squares of the checkerboard pattern. 25 days later the King, Elvis Presley, dies on Aug. 16. It is a symbolic death — how bloated rock and roll has become — and ironic — just days after a new King is declared. That fall “Watching the Detectives” goes into high rotation in my dorm room at Mohawk Hall.