Category Archives: Poetry

The Days Between – Jerry Garcia

I am undeniable a Dead-head. I own several gbs of their music. I have several solo works of other members. I have all the concerts from the last two years of Dead & Company in my music collection. Yet, I have never seen the Grateful Dead play live. I’ve not seen any of the solo efforts in a live setting. I’ve yet to make a single Dead & Company show. To be frankly honest, the Grateful Dead and associated acts were never part of my musical calculus until somewhere in late 1994 or early 1995.

See, I grew up in the mid-1980s. Teenagers at that time were listening to New Wave or Heavy Metal. Me? I was a Metal-head. My youth was spent listening to bands like Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Twisted Sister, Motorhead, Cirith Ungol, Metallica, Megadeth, Saxon, Fastway, Dio, Rainbow, Doro, Lita Ford, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Mercyful Fate, Ratt, Motley Crue, and many others. The Grateful Dead just weren’t anywhere in that neighborhood. But three years spent overseas in Germany changed a lot of this for me.

While stationed in Germany, I was exposed to a wider assortment of music – and learned to appreciate musicianship in its many forms. One of my earliest encounters was through jazz guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, AND Kazumi Watanabe. From these, I came upon acts such as the Indigo Girls, and Gary Moore. And eventually, I wandered into the Grateful Dead.

It was the lyrics that got me there, along with listening to more of the “In the Dark” album than just “Touch of Grey”. I found a lot of synchronicity with various songs, such as “Black Muddy River.” This led me to digging into the band’s past and finding more songs with awesome lyrics. Eventually, I came across the song “Days Between” – where I found lyrics that were incredible, with such delicious imagery attached to it (see the lyrics for the song below). This was the type of poet that I wanted to be!

Sadly though – it wasn’t Jerry’s voice that drew me in. That was – and still is – Bob Weir. I enjoy his vocal renditions of songs in Dead & Company that were traditionally Jerry’s to sing. That’s not to say that Jerry was a terrible vocalist, merely that my ear is drawn more to Weir’s style.

I do remember where I was on August 9th, when the news came out that Jerry Garcia had passed away in 1995. I was working a day shift as a Tape Librarian at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. When my shift was over, I heard on the radio about other fans of the Grateful Dead who were meeting in a local park to celebrate Jerry’s life. It didn’t take me long to decide to go there. When the sun set, candles were passed around and lit – and the crowd sang songs that were traditionally Jerry’s. I didn’t get to stay the entire night, as I did have a shift to work the next morning – but according to the news people stayed until well after midnight.

I can’t honestly say that the Grateful Dead and their music has really touched my life, or even that it has ignited a fire within me. What it has become though, is a constant companion wherever I go. My iPhone typically has over 2gb of Grateful Dead music on it at any given time. When I am writing (as I am now), the music playing in the background is of the Grateful Dead or some derivative. The sound calms me, relaxes me, and really puts me in a frame of mind to think. So, while I’ve never seen any aspect of the Grateful Dead in a live setting, the music of this band, and the associated acts that have sprung from it have become that constant companion that I really enjoy. We might not be old friends from way back in the day, but we’ve made up for that over the last twenty-plus years.

Jerry was born on August 1st, and died in 1995 eight days after his birthday. Yesterday. many Dead-heads celebrated what would have been Jerry’s 75th birthday. On August 9th, Dead-heads will remember the loss of Jerry twenty-two years ago. From August 2nd to August 8th, this period of time has been lovingly referred to as “The Days Between”…in loving tribute to Jerry, I present to you the lyrics to “The Days Between” in closing.

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Summer flies and August dies
The world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
On black infested trees
The singing man is at his song
The holy on their knees
The reckless are out wrecking
The timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
Than anyone can see anyone can see

There were days
And there were days
And there were days besides
When phantom ships with phantom sails
Set to sea on phantom tides
Comes the lightning of the sun
On bright unfocused eyes
The blue of yet another day
A springtime wet with sighs
A hopeful candle lingers
In the land of lullabies
Where headless horsemen vanish
With wild and lonely cries, lonely cries

There were days
And there were days
And there were days I know
When all we ever wanted
Was to learn and love and grow
Once we grew into our shoes
We told them where to go
Walked halfway around the world
On promise of the glow
Walked upon a mountain top
Walked barefoot in the snow
Gave the best we had to give
How much we’ll never know we’ll never know

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
As soft as velveteen
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
Still tender, young and green
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

Written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter
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My Odd Thoughts on Journals – Hand-written v. Keyboard

So, I write poetry. Back in the day, I wrote a LOT of poetry. Being in the military at that time, with a girlfriend back in Shreveport, Louisiana, I sent all of those poems to her. She would cut them out of the letters, and put them in an album. When we broke up, I never saw that album again. But then, I discovered BBSs, and wrote a lot of my poetry while logged in. I was rather prolific there as well. When Renaissance BBS closed down, I was provided with a printout of all the poems I had written there. Two moves – one to Germany, the other back to the States – provided a loss of those poems as well. Thinking back, I believe it may be somewhere close to 400 poems or more that I have lost over that time frame – probably to never be seen again.

These days, I tend to write poetry here on WordPress, and will sometimes back it up on EverNote. But the reality of that has been slim to non-existent, which is a bad habit I have fallen into. A few years back, I submitted one of my poems – Lone Wolf: Innocence in Snow – to a writing contest here at the college. I won first place in the poetry contest, and also received an award for best writing work for the entire writing showcase. I realized at that point, that I needed to start backing up my work, particularly since I wrote mostly in a digital environment.

As I noted, my backup efforts have been sporadic, at best. So, when I finished my Bardic Grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, I realized that I needed a better manner to protect my writings – particularly my poetry. So, I bought three blank, lined journals – dedicated one to my own personal thoughts, the second to my upcoming Ovate Grade Gwers work, and the third to my poetry. Now, my efforts are towards writing out my poetry by hand into my journal. And in doing this, I discovered something rather strange.

As I started reading through my entries here on WordPress, I realized that I had written poetry that I couldn’t recall. There were a few that I remembered, but as I looked through those, I realized that these were poems I had hand-written back in the late 1990s. The other poems were ones that I had written in the last few years, via the computer. As I sat and pondered over this, it dawned on me that many of the appointments and event schedules that I write in Google calendar are easily forgotten a few days later. Furthermore, I found myself using Google calendar for a few days, and then no longer using it like I had previously. However, if I wrote things down – even as a scribbled note on the back of an envelope – I could easily recall what I had written three, four, and even eight months later.

Maybe its just a learning concept for me. If I write it, I remember it. I remember every single note I took at Pantheacon, earlier this year. I hand wrote all of those notes. A meeting with another department, I couldn’t recall a single note I took. That meeting was less than two weeks ago. I wrote those notes using a blue-tooth keyboard connected to my iPad.

There is a history of Alzheimer’s disease among the male members of my family on my father’s side. My grandfather, before he died, couldn’t even recall who his grandchildren were. My father had trouble with his short-term memory before he passed away a little more than two years ago. Perhaps, its just my genetic makeup?? If so, why should I be able to recall what I wrote at Pantheacon a few months ago with a slightly fuzzy clarity?? And why can I not recall poems I wrote a little over two years ago on a keyboard, and have vivid recollection of poems I wrote back in the early 2000s, and even back in the mid 1980s?? Its certainly a concept to study a bit deeper.

As an experiment of sorts, I have started moving all my writing – save for the blog – to pen and paper. I am also moving my calendar from Google to a daily planner. And I will be taking careful notes about how well I recall things using these methods for the next year-plus. Who knows? Perhaps my clarity of recall has something to do with rote memory of what I write physically with my hand because of the motion. Maybe its something to do with how I learned as a child. Maybe its none of that. Or even all of that. But this is the kind of stuff that puzzles me. And the kind of stuff I enjoy researching.

Connectivity, indeed…..

–T /|\

Poem: Shattered Summer Dreams

The sounds are unmistakable
Frozen in the soundtracks
Of so many steamy Summer days
Baseball striking bat
Baseball slamming into glove
A recorded out for the scorebook

Every player on the field
From outfield, infield and dugout
Dreams of catching the last out
Hitting the game winning home run
Scoring the winning run
In the bottom of an October ninth

All those shared dreams
All those shared memories
Of summers gone by into the mists
Recorded in countless scorebooks
Part of a dusty, unspoken history
Remembered by so few into the future

Only a special few make it to the Show
The basepaths that they have traveled
Littered with the shattered dreams of others
The sounds of crushed fastballs gone
The screams and shouts of the victorious faded
The tears of the losing side, long washed away

Poem: Labeling Theory

Everywhere one looks there is a label to see
One proclaiming that you might get cancer if you use this
Another stating every ingredient contained within
Calorie and nutrition declared for all

Then there are the labels that are not seen
The ones we all attach to other people
Particularly when they do not conform
To the balance of our own outlook in society

We categorize everyone everywhere
By the language they speak, their height
Their weight, the color of their eyes
Even the color of their skin

By their religious beliefs, what God(s) they worship
What church they do or do not attend
The car that they drive, how much money they make
What sports team(s) they root for

Categorize, attach descriptive, and all is known
No need to communicate, no need to talk
No need to discuss, no need to really know
The label does all that work for us

Perhaps Detective Spooner was truly correct
“One look at the skin, and we think we know just what’s underneath.”
All thanks to a simple descriptive that masks strangers
Into faceless, nameless entities

A product of our social environment
Or an example of lazy analysis?
I cannot say completely for sure
But it certainly is apt for our faceless, nameless humanity

Print it, peel it, stick it and forget it
Anytime you need to know, just look close

Poem: The Whirlwind of Voting

The whirlwind can be relentless they say
Air agitated to the very edge of its existence
Pushing, clawing, ripping at they who stand against it

The same can be said for the world around us
Rumor, accusation, words agitated to their edge
Utilized as weapons of destruction against others

Moving through that whirlwind of words
Invites a destruction of one’s own soul
Left naked against a whirling reel of razor blades

Yet, we step forward into this tornado of vitriol
Every year we slid the curtain aside in the voting booth
And mark our choices with dripping blood from the cuts

Poem:The World is Watching

They stand there in peace
Carrying the “weapons” of words and hands
Speaking prayers aloud or in silence
Looking to stop the long black snake

Because where there is danger in the world
There are protectors standing…

You bring pepper spray, rubber bullets and attack dogs
Unleashing violence and harm in response
Swinging batons with harmful intent
Demanding subservience to your methods

Because whatever you think you are getting away with
There are people watching…

Many brought their bodies to offer
Upon the burning pyre of your anger and hate
Others brought cameras and microphones
To record your vicious actions

Because no matter where you think you are
The world is watching….

The winds carry a mournful sound today
A song for those injured from your actions
But soon the wind will howl a different tune
One of retribution, anger and a cry for justice

Because no matter who you think is watching
The Gods certainly are…

Poem: Somewhere Someone is Unaware of Experiencing

Somewhere Someone is Unaware of Experiencing
Robyn Birchleaf
11/1/2016

Somewhere there is a happy person in this world
Someone who does not see the politics we see
Someone who does not see the corporation rape we do
Somewhere is a person living a life happy and unaware

Unaware of people fighting one another over ideology
Experiencing all the beauty that sunrises and sunsets provide
Experiencing a life filled with peaceful purpose and calm
Unaware of the anger and violence propagated to make things right

Someone is out there, finding all the aspects of what we seek
Unaware of the anger and violence that surrounds them daily
Experiencing life as everyone else should, as an equal in peace
Somewhere – they could even be on the bus seat next to you