A Guide to “Impressions”
(a cheat sheet to those who wish insight on these scribblings)
Poetry is different for every person who does or does not read it.
By reading,they become a participant in a new piece of thought. A
person brings their experience,emotions and opinions into their
interpretation of what they read. Someone can read something
twice in two different states of mind and it can have two completely
different meanings. In this way,a piece of writing is a collaboration
between the writer and the reader;each time it is read,it is another
piece of poetry.
Here is a group of writings that I humbly submit as poetry. They
were written during the time I was working and traveling with the
Paul Simon “Born At The Right Time” tour between August 1,1990
and January 27,1992(with a few exceptions). This was a great
period of growth for me personally and I hope the writing reflects
that. The group performed 156 shows in 31 countries(not counting
benefits and counting the UK as 4 separate countries[let's not
argue!]) Many of these places I had never before been to;some I
returned to with an improved perspective that permitted me to see
them as if for the first time.
The way each reader approaches a poem is unique;some are
explorers with no knowledge of where they go,preferring to be
surprised for better or worse,along the way. Some want total
knowledge of the surroundings,maps,analysis,timetables and
history to better understand what they will read and experience. I
think most people like a title,a clue to where they are going so that
they themselves can solve whatever riddle they have inside that
poetry shines light upon. For even though every writer’s thoughts
are very personal(mine included)they can touch upon those parts of
us that we know(or did not know)lies within each and every one of
For you explorers and sleuths,this section is not for you. I have
decided to include short explanations and clarifications for those of
you who want direct insight into what I thought I wrote down. My
work is very train of thought;even the best railroads experience
derailments. They often start with an image or mood and end up
somewhere else all together. I very rarely edit my work;it’s first draft
quality attests to that. I have left in all of my efforts from this time
even though initially I wanted to remove the weaker poems;but I
look at this as a journal of sorts. I feel that you should not delete
days just because they were not up to a momentary standard.
Perhaps one of you readers will find strength where I can not. You
may come across a stiff or two as well. Hell,I’m the first to admit I’m
no Bill Shakespeare!!!
With that,here is a tourist map with a few X’s and O’s:
A break in rehearsals and a trip to New England. The ghosts I
felt watching were from my past,the area’s past and someone
else’s past. I took an ex-girlfriend to her father’s burial in New
Hampshire,a man I never knew. He committed suicide and I had
to put my agenda aside and be a friend. Good lesson and one of
my favorite pieces.
Storms(as you will see)bring out all kinds of feelings in me;this one
was on an afternoon alone in the house in Westhampton.
Waiting For The Storm:
A few days before we started the tour in Tacoma,a storm moved
into the area while I was visiting a friend. She went off to work and I
stayed at home and played with the dog.
Break in the tour,laundry time! My local laundromat had become
a crack scoring zone;I had to try to remember myself at my low
point to keep some empathy for the walking dead.
Written during a visit to my old stomping grounds on a tour break. I
was driving an old dirt road in the spring(“mud road) and it became
undrivable. I should have known.
The bus ride to Manchester reminded me of the many walks I
used to take on Cranberry Island,Maine. The wheel ruts and the
grassy median I saw out the bus window triggered me to write
Sometimes when I isolate,looking out the hotel window brings
me back. The famous river and it’s traffic changed my mood by
the time I was done.
A great day walking through a great city centers me. I would not
harm the insect or his work that day in a land whose creative
strength helped topple oppressive leaders.
What Are My Choices?:
The “romance” of the road.
Introspection in the land of my birth.
My first experience bungee jumping;wow. The last part
describes the sky on the way home which was other worldly
due to the dust in the air from the Philippine volcano,Mt. Pinatubo.
Sometimes not getting what you want shows that you want more
than you think. Relationships involve two people with two sets of
needs that may not coincide.
Can’t Shake It:
A friend and I drove by a fatal accident on Sunset Blvd. one
day and the image wouldn’t leave. The form was influenced
(stolen) by reading the great South American poet Cesar
I woke up early on the tour bus at the Capitol Music Center,a
converted horseracing track,now concert venue. Nature seemed off
kilter through sleepy eyes: A.M. perspective check.
I was angry because people asked me about bungee jumping and
insisted that I was scared(see LA 7/29). I set off through a fog of
self pity and “poor me” to share what I was really afraid of.
Isolation,anger and finally,perspective. I grow the most when I
shelve the self and remember others.
Two places,two moods,one poem. The first verses were written in
L.A. in a critical reflective mood. I completed the poem in Japan
when the deadly serious start seemed almost comical. It is the first
time I’ve seen a poem do a geographic.
Inspired by the completion of Clive Barker’s”Imajica”,a book
charged with good old fashioned myth and ties to the social illness
that our world is infected with.
I go to China and stay in my room. Some world traveler! I still
absorbed plenty and vented my ongoing shame of my heritage as
an “American Barbarian”.
After Asia,Australia was like home…in a funhouse mirror. Half a
world away and homesick,being a day ahead of home and having
things break in your suitcase will send you deep into reflection.
We are all human.
Could we actually believe that we could be responsible for the
The end of my self-imposed exile from the tour. It coincides with my
reading of “Quantum Healing”. It’s info on microscopic doings
resulted in universal size thoughts and feelings.
A wonderfully powerful thunderstorm keeps me up.
Written on the “Golden Hawke”,a 112 year old sailing ship,between
Bali and Lombok. Sometimes intellect prevents man from
experiencing nature initially;nature is persistent and always wins.
In the groove even at an American resort in paradise.
One More Week!!!:
Our break in Bali was a life shaping time. The Hindu culture
pervades even the gift shop. The Ying and Yang(I know,not
Hindu)of the island centered me in a way unknown to me before.
The sun and the books I read didn’t hurt. Rollo May’s “Cry For
Myth” exposed me to Faust and Peer Gynt for the first time,myths I
had been lacking.
Images of Brazil and Thanksgiving meet in my only direct attempt
to use a rhyming form in a long time(with mixed results).
Envy Of A Hand Of Stone:
At the beach a large set of concrete fingers protrude from a
dune,it’s nails facing the Atlantic. A great image and one that
triggered jealousy on my behalf in that it’s inhuman nature prevents
it from grasping everything that passes through it.
The thought of someone trying to stop our shows in South Africa for
political reasons filled me with confusion,disbelief and fear. I thank
God that only once the sound of grenades overshadowed Paul and
his remarkable band.
Christmas with my partial family was trying. I use tending the
woodstove as a metaphor,a device that I spent many hours focused
on when I was younger. If I couldn’t burn with rage,something else
My Life,The Sky,The Sea:
Leaving JoBurg was a relief for everyone. As I sat watching the sun
set over the Indian Ocean in the flight path of the airport,the
swimmers and Martia’s hands were more real than the security
guards out my window waiting for the band to arrive.
Late night isolation…I thought a boat was blowing it’s horn and an
image came to mind. Then I realized it was just the plumbing.
Sometimes I think reality is only a personal and temporary state.
My mother gave me a book for Christmas called “Friday Night
Lights”,a story of a year in a football program in an Odessa,Texas
high school. They have a stadium with a 20,000 seat capacity! It
rekindled my own sore memories of my time in high school
football(thanks Mom). Even winners can feel what I’ve felt.
Perhaps the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. For an American to
watch the sun set on the Atlantic is…well,unusual. The images were
so strong I literally ran from the seaside walkway of Seapoint back
to my hotel room to write down these words. The whole middle
section was written before I saw the paper(unusual for me). As I
wrote,the sky took a turn into darkness that I never had the
patience to see before. I realized that I do not have a choice in that
I write,how I write today and the outcome of my writing. In the long
run,it does not matter;it is what it is. I love it that way.
A really weakly-written overview of the whole tour that may or may
not trigger some memories of our travels. I attempted to use at
least one image or memory from each country we went to; the form
slopped around a bit. The first and last paragraphs are quite
heartfelt…what I gained on this trip in experience and friendship will
not likely be rivaled.
I hope that these bits of background enhance your reading;there is
a history of travel and documentation in my family. Perhaps I will do my
relatives honor in this slightly different format. Thank you for being a
participant in this…we couldn’t have done it without you!
Love and God Bless,
I must thank a few people for their part in this project,whether or
not they know of it…
Jim Corona,for listening to me rant most of these at him at all hours
of the night and not making faces when the lack of clarity rose over
Marc Silag and Paul Simon for introducing me to Derek Walcott (in
Cheryll Stone for computer time and encouragement;
all my wonderful friends on the tour who I shared one of the
greatest adventures of my life with;
Abe Laboriel,who once suggested to write a journal to help cope
with the rigors of life on the road;
Octavio Paz,whose book,”The Bow And The Lyre” was liberally
paraphrased in the first and third paragraphs of this guide. His
insight to writing is a constant influence on me;
Wassily Kandinsky,whose painting, theory and words of a spiritual
approach to all arts “brings it all together” for me;
my parents Susan and Val for being artists,musicians and
loving,supporting human beings;
all the other teachers,poets,writers and others who shared the
freedom of art and creative writing;
those who excelled at it;
the many people I encountered out there ;
and the Higher Power that grants all life.