Happy May Day!

When Woody Guthrie wrote –

This Machine Kills Fascists

on his guitar,

he was a volunteer in the

Merchant Marines.

The tool I am using now –

to write these words –

was made in China.

A Communist country

that has embraced

Capitalism.

 

When we had the

Good Neighbor Food CO-OP –

we had several 18 wheelers –

and a Federation of Ohio River Cooperatives –

we made our own distribution.

Kroger grocery is Union,

(so, was Woody’s boat)

and we were ordered

to compete and destroyed

because our services,

were a threat.

Now, look down at your

feet, past that pixilated tool

and those shoes made

by slave labor –

and tell me how many

lithium batteries you have

thrown away, into the Earth –

that we all are spinning on.

And like this we go

around and around …

– ring around the rosies

a pocketful of posies –

 

 – ashes to ashes

we all

fall down – 

1f339


 

 

 

Dead Grateful – Even Further (draft)

Dead Grateful

Louisville, Kentucky

04-23-2017

Set II

The Ballad of Joe Hill

Woody Guthrie

Pete Seeger ->

Utah Phillips

Wendell Berry –>

The Other Ones ->

Drums -> Space is the Place ->

GDTRFB ->

Ken Kesey ->

Ed McClanahan

Brett Eugene (hobo) Ralph ->

Uncle John Gage’s Band

 

enc. Anne Feeney

 

I am writing this chapter about two months after I quit working for the railroad. I suspect I shouldn’t leave without an EVEN FURTHER, explanation. I was inspired to write this last doo hickey of a word play because I visited with a fine man yesterday and read to him a chapter of my unfinished book. I seriously respect this man, his work, heart and writing.

 

He is in the greater story. At one point, back in my manic days of the 1990’s, I think in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the Kerouac event, we bumped into each other. The Rant event, the one with the crazy ride with a bone man, when I was manic as fuck, and a real burning man.

 

Brett Ralph. At some point, we shared a shot of bourbon at a party. I remember a hotel room and it being dark. I was sitting on the floor and this really big dude was standing above me. He was laughing like the man from lake, the Iron John of a dude, that he is. That guy. I went to his new record store Surface Noise, yesterday, and read the chapter about the crazy folks that I feel massive solidarity with. He knew some of them. The Brotherhood of Contraries.

 

I stole that line and chapter title from a Wendell Berry, Mad Farmer poem, rather, I borrowed it. See, hipsterly speaking, right … The first time I was invited to visit with Wendell, I had some conversation with Utah Phillip’s widow before the meeting by the river. I told her I was visiting with Mr. Berry and asked her what I should ask him. She suggested to ask him if Gary Snyder was ever in the I.W.W. I suspected this was a trick question.

 

When I got a chance to ask him about Mr. Snyder, Mr. Berry leaned back in his rocking chair and said, “well then,” and said he was not sure about that. We talked briefly about it and in conversation, he contemplated that he didn’t think the I.W.W was around anymore. So, I showed him my red card.

 

After I sang one of my songs, Mr. Berry was very entertained and happily said, “’yep, you sure can sing!” So, hipsterly speaking, right? I guess that was good enough for me? … That experience found me talking with Utah’s son Duncan Phillips again. He mentioned that he read a Wendell Berry poem at Utah’s funeral.

 

So, a button on your shirt, and, before I wrote this book, I had not a clue who Ed McClanahan was. I found a paperback that my father in law had of Ed’s just recently and read it. I recently read Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Except the girls and the fishing trip …been there done that and got the T-shirt.

 

After reading my chapter, Brett suggested that I have my voice and that he was intrigued by the story. He encouraged me to keep working on the book. I trust Brett, he teaches English at a Kentucky College! I trust that he was giving good critical voice to my chapter. Sometimes, I must wonder why I am doing this … I am a folk musician, not a writer, captin’.

 

 

I am somewhat aware that being a writer is a way of life. and, you can start sentences with and. And further and however, hipsterly speaking, right? Wallace Stegner is a chump! He got the whole Joe Hill story wrong! His research for his books on Joe Hill was, in my humble opinion, sloppy. His life works, and activism? Mind-blowing and something to not shake a stick at.

 

I recently made a new electronical friend in a photographer from the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper. He has made it his work to prove that Mr. Stegner did Joe Hill the union organizer, a disservice. Not to mention, basically threw an academic nose up to the I.W.W when they called him out on his bullshit. So, me being the devout Sun Ra follower that I am, have this to suggest …

 

First, if you didn’t RFD (read the fucking directions) the first time – I suggest firing up that google machine, look up Sun Ra, then second, apply this thinking to Joe Hill, the labor myth.

 

“If I am telling a lie, they have to judge whether the lie is more profitable to them than the truth that they know.”

 

Sun Ra said that fragment of his thinking in the movie, “Make a Joyful Noise.” And, the reason I started this chapter like a Grateful Dead bootleg, was because the connective thread that seems to be my personal teaching moment from this writing experience has been – Wallace Stegner. It is more profitable to me, as a person who very much understands the power of myth, that Joe Hill remain the labor hero that he is.

 

It is very cool that Joe Hill’s family and the family of the man who they accused Joe Hill of shooting got a chance to meet on the 100th  year after Joe was murdered. It is also very cool that my electronical friend has made this story close to his heart. I suspect one day, my photographer friend and I will meet in person. That’s exactly how Joe Hill works. The Power of the Union …

 

I wrote the suggestion, Even Further on my car with a boxcar moniker paint stick, a couple of years ago when I started this journey. I am not sure why I was moved to do so. I was following my bliss. I was doing what Joseph Campbell suggested. I was in my sacred place, doing what I do. I was being – in. Listening to the voices of elders. I made Anne Feeney the encore of the bootleg, for this purpose … I wanted to tell just one more story before I considered this book finished.

 

Once upon a time, in Chicago at a Labor Notes convention, an Appalshop Documentary by Anne Lewis & Mimi Pickering was shown. The movie is called Anne Braden: Southern Patriot.  When I saw it in Chicago, it was one of, if not the first public showing of the film.

 

I was sitting right next to Anne Feeney for this showing. To make a long story short. I knew Anne Braden was important, but, after that film, I was blown away. Somewhere in the middle of the film, I went outside to call my mother. I walked out to the hotel parking lot to get some alone time at a very bustling convention to tell my mother that in the film they had documented the work we did back in the Anti-Apartheid days at the University of Louisville.

 

My mother, was tired, fighting cancer, and couldn’t talk. She wanted to … but told me that she needed to rest. She told me to have a good time and to be careful, and that we would be able to talk about it when I got home. I broke down. Cried like a baby, snot running from my nose…weeping. and then went back inside to watch the end of the film. This was the first time that I as a man, thought that my mother was going away – soon, going to be gone. That thought, killed me.

 

Anne Feeney, saw my tears, heard my voice when I briefly mentioned after the film, in the open discussion period, that I was from Louisville. We walked out of the presentation together and Anne said to me loudly, as she slapped my back, “we have a softy!”

 

When I was on the Joe Hill 100 tour, I got a chance to really meet Anne Feeney. She is an amazing woman. The point of this chapter was to find a way to mention a lot of connective thoughts. Mention, folks who I have a deep respect for. Honor. This Is the folk tradition way. We must share! It is not boasting to have a need to tell a story. It is a must to share. That is how it is done.

 

The list at the beginning of this chapter, is at the root of my fragmented thought that I use on my website. Railroad Music: The Thread in the Quilt That Is Americana. There are many circles to talk about, many connections. Many tracks to go down. Utah Phillip’s suggested that Anne Feeney… Well, here is the quote from her website.

 

Anne is “the best labor singer in North America” according to Utah Phillips.

 

and I agree. What else could I say?

 

At that same Labor Notes convention, I handed out 100 free CD Baby download cards of my then new CD, Born Union. Not one person downloaded it. So, hipsterly speaking, right? Nobody likes a complainer?

 

Here’s why no one downloaded the CD. I hope!

 

People need a face to face, authentic human experience.

Folks need to know that you’re not trying to hornswoggle em’!

 

Ken Kesey considered himself to be the link between the beat poets of the 1950’s and the Hippies of the 1960’s. I consider myself to be the link between the anarchists and I.W.W members of the day and the connector track between the Dead Headish cooperative hippies of the 1980’s and the folk punk, hobo train kids there-of. I am a GenXer’ and take that as a label in-kind; counterculture so be it. I’ll own it, if I must. Baltimore Red suggested that I am the unknown the poet laureate of the union. I’ll accept that.

 

I am not interested in being part of the folk music industry. That is why I took the word Americana back and used it in my motto. A Folk Music industry? It would be against the soul porpoise of the goal!

 

All puns and miss peeled words – intended.

 

After words …

 

 

As a seasoned railroad worker and union activist, when I first learned of John Wright’s poetry and music, I knew that I was experiencing a rare phenomenon. J.P.’s songs come from real life, from day-to-day work 24/7 on the railroad. While the old railroad classics are among my favorites, anyone can play “The Wreck of Old 97” or “The City of New Orleans”.

 

Brother John is taking modern day stories – from his and his co-workers experiences – and creating heartfelt, humorous and often hard-hitting songs and ballads that speak intimately – not just to “rails” – but to anyone who has ever worked for a living. There is simply no one out there doing what J.P. Wright is doing.

 

At a rally in San Salvador in 2002, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was the bands – the “entertainment” – rather than the official speakers, who lead the show from the podium, who set the tone of the event (an international rally against the Central American Free Trade Agreement). It impressed upon me that we need more artists, musicians, poets, story-tellers and performers of all types to step up and lead at these types of gatherings.

 

My Fellow Worker on the railroad – John Wright – is one of those with the keen insight, creativity, and artistry to transform an everyday sterile, dry, and lackluster “political event” into an uplifting and mind expanding experience. With his stories, poems, music and humor, J.P. speaks to working people’s reality, drawing them into the fight, providing encouragement and confidence, urging them forward.

Ron Kaminkow

General Secretary

Railroad Workers United

Reno, Nevada

01-24-2017

The Poetry Dump

This weeks poetry dump is sponsored by you.

Please donate to my work .. i do PAYPAL. Suggested 

re – tail price = $2.00

railroadmusic333@gmail.com is my address …

and .. if you is strapped for cash, I understand ..

hows about a re-tweet for a share! 

Enjoy …


For – Mrs. Bonita Points

My neighbor, she is 96 years old –

came out and walked around our

pond. we share this place –

i watched as she and her cane –

hobbled around a little path that

she maintains – her mind almost gone-

her look – far off and she reaches out

her hand- i take it into mine

as if i am greeting

a royal queen.

 

i already knew

she wouldn’t remember

when she called the police

on us for chopping down

one of her trees. And when

the policeman came …

he asked me how long her

husband had been gone …

he asked me what we should

do to make this right.

and on that day, i told him

he had been gone a long time

and that we should listen to her –

she won’t remember this anyway!

 

(… all she really wants is to find her

husband on that path, she wants

to look up from her weed pulling

and see him standing there,

her partner – who she talks about

every time we meet …)

 

… and as neighbors do,

she parted with some kind words –

she made a mention that soon

she will meet him up there!

I told her, that he has been

waiting a long time! she

shuffled away into the afternoon …

seemingly content that all

of this is here, the pond, the trees

and the yard that she

once bought with him,

planted with him,

soon my neighbor will be gone …

the 96-year-old angel

of his dreams …


20170418

… and he asked me “what are your politics?”

I told him Frank Zappa was my favorite

guitar player. Because he paid his musicians

a fair living wage.

Why don’t we talk

like that anymore?

 

I believe in my Djembe!

I believe in collectivism,

cooperation –

like as in an Arkestra …

 

Who followed the leader,

because the leader knew he

would need to make another

mistake and do something

wrong … and make another

mistake and do something

right!

 

(and … all of this is but fragments

of thought radiating from years of

experience. Nights, burning away,

high on life’s blood surging

like panic and inspiration.)

 

It’s after the end of the world,

so … workers … fellow workers,

as we are forced to build their

pyramids – and as we are forced

by gun point and neglect – to watch

the takers of the world destroy all

that is … don’t forget to look at the

stars – remember to look into the

water at the mirror image,

and remember this is all about you!

and me too …

 

ashes to ashes –

we all fall down

if we fall to fear …

 

our religion is reason,

my political views

are man-made. The laws of nature are

relevant to us all. Self-help comes

directly in action and inaction.

 

We revolve …

resolute –

If we build a new world?

They will try to destroy it.

I, don’t want no part of theirs.

They can keep their ashes –

their corpses – and monuments.

 

OBU

 

(Yours for the Alter Destiny…

Space is the Place….)


From a recent show at Lettersong Gallery 


from today – Sunday – Oh, Louisville .. SMH …

20170423 –

Sunday Mournings

Agitated –

the slaves cry from the field …

master – with watchful eye

his employee shall do his

doing –

bidding –

so as to keep his hands

free of responsibility –

master doesn’t whip his slaves –

he sub-contracts out that labor …

(now turn over the tag

on your shirt)

and ask this question …

Do I Support Slave Labor?

How do we defend that?

Pick up a rock!

Are you (triggering)

A revolt – a slave

insurrection – intersection

from the other

side of the tracks?

(I’ll clean a pane of

my glass house

and continue)

agitated-

the slaves cry some more –

and X – Marx the spot

where they killed the

reformer – turned

against him –

they listened to all

the critical judgement-

the name calling-

the War of factions –

(now, turn your clothing

inside out- and walk

a mile in my slave made

work boots)

Buy into my story –

agitated –

gather round me children

a story i will tell –

of a code talker

and a heroine-

the slaves knew her well-

(now, i am holding a tool

made by machines)

agitated-

and marginalized

seeing red…

wave that flag

wave it high

i got the US blues –

(this is madness)

wave

that freak flag

and kiss the sky –

and now call me

a punk… and pick

up another rock!

(now, let us remember that

LP’s are made from oil)

and what about this

and what about that –

the house slave is getting

nervous – it’s awfully

comfortable and cold

in his

glass house!

so, he fracks a bit of coal

(now, slaves- have you

mourned enough)

Organize!

Agitated- ill sip

some more of my

morning coffee

made by farmers

who collectively

own a coop –

and the seller owns

his business – yet

his employees?

(this is a family business

you can talk to us directly)

Now ask yourself …

What is a union?

and X Marx the spot

where ISLAM and Peace

rests. (They) killed Malcolm

The code talkers?

No! (A black mass)

movement –

(and X Marx the spot

where C+C still = C if there

is no slave to trade in

a market that is free)

and 2+2 still = 4 unless

you fall to fear –

a caged mind

of duality!

(i’ll change a pane

of broken glass)

You could think

about time …

grab another rock

because X Marx the spot

where (They) killed

MLKjr … the code

talkers?

No!

Fear

Agitated

for Change …

The slave slips

away – and the

farmer

is drunk

as the animals

gather …

(have you learned

the lesson yet?)

I’ll go (Even Further)

so gather round me

children

Hop on the buss

and a story i will

discuss

about the hero

who stole from the rich

and gave to the poor …

and then Quit!

He had gone far enuf!

Agitated.

(now, get back to

revolt.)

Agitated-

shit floats to

the top

jP

 

Muckrakers United

I B of C local 1

amen & Sisters too!

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