Saturday, April 30, 2016

Three By David Daniel

David Daniel lives near Boston and has been the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer in Residence at UMass, Lowell. His work appears often at

When Amy Winehouse Died

by David Daniel

Black lipstick made sense. Passwords were changed; phones silenced. Fans got her name tattooed on their hearts. My old lady said let’s do a bump in tribute, but when we discovered her stash was gone, an hour on the street produced not a single hookup. They were all in seclusion with their grief.

On the second day, against the fade of the long July light, I sat listless & watched the cat walk across the kitchen counter and step into the sink. According to reports I read online, Amy checked out in the wee small hours, with two bottles of vodka for company. She always was a night person. The bare ruined choirs were barer by one. When the cat mewed and licked the faucet it dawned on me he wanted water.

Whither thou goest, I will go. She didn’t look back. People who dug her said, yeah, b/c they knew. Her father, and her ex? They’ll wait a long time for peace.

On Bleeker Street, five hours short of London time, the morning wind played a threnody. Passersby wondered (as they did with Lennon, Harrison, the others) how they were going to fill the silence. A cat wanting a drink is one thing; a throng of the brokenhearted is something else altogether.  

Lady Day dropped a gardenia on the River Thames. We were stuck inside of Mobile with the Winehouse blues again. The Ghost Riders in the Sky struck up the band and played a dirge of welcome. Empty Henny bottles, each with a yarmulke on top, turned up on James Dean’s grave in Fairmount, IN and Kerouac’s in Lowell, MA.  

Driving in my car, I find myself imagining a Club 27 theme park, with holograms—Robert Johnson, Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix, Brian Jones, Cobain—and a stage, where Amy can snarl and play her ghost-white Strat and shake her tuchas.  

On the third day, abruptly, my old lady split. She left a note: "l'éveil jaune et bleu des phosphores chanteurs . . . y . . . "nasses / Où pourrit dans les joncs tout un Léviathan.” –Arthur Rimbaud, Le bateau ivre. No translation. Pretentious bitch. I don’t know a word of Italian.

One time, okay? One time. Look at me and say “A.W. 1983 - 2011.” Scat, cat. This bird has flown.

Alternative Hemingway

by David Daniel
After the cancer, the heart attacks, the prolonged depression, something wild was gone from him, some ingredient essential to his work. Where once he strode the earth a Colossus, continents his parade ground, now his steps were provisional, considered. His travels took him to the grocer’s, the library, the clinic, and home.

His consumption of alcohol, once prodigious, was reduced to a glass of sherry before supper. And the foods of which he formerly famously partook—lion steak, Escargots à la Bourguignonne, braised springbok—were a memory. He sat with a TV tray and ate Swanson’s Hungry-Man meatloaf.

Stories would not come. No more pithy dialogue, no lengthy lamentations of the soul. Nada y pues nada y pues nada. . .

Friends (I was one) offered their prescriptions: Take some time off, rest, recover. Privately, we waited for the worst, braced for the reverberations of the shotgun.

We’re still waiting.

He sits on a high stool in the shade of a candy-striped umbrella. His
beard, a pale wisp, hangs like savannah moss. He smiles in Zen-like contentment at passersby. He has a neatly painted sign:

Doggerel a dollar
Business is brisk.

The Poet David Daniel

If Lennon Were Here

by David Daniel

He’d be a different person. Older, face bonier, nose sharp as a box-cutter, hair like thin grass. He’d be wiry and spry, from yoga and walking everywhere (like Hemingway and Kerouac, he was never one to drive).

And he would still need glasses.

He’d think with wonder about being in his 70s, with a wife of more than five decades and full-grown sons. He’d be surprised, then annoyed, and finally amused when people puzzled at the origin of his middle name.

He would still be popular but not more popular than Jesus, whose stock has surged in recent decades. Nor would he want to be. If he was making music, it’d be for the same reason he did long ago as a sprout in Liverpool and then lost it for a time: Because he wanted to. He’d still like an occasional pint.

He’d sometimes stop and think about Paul and Ringo and George (RIP) and all the lovers and friends that went before.

He’d give away stuff: his books & records & paintings, things neutered by time. Yoko would turn his personal papers, correspondence & old contracts into collages & papier-mâché. None of it would appear on E-Bay, there’d be an agreement about that. His guitars . . . not so easy—the beat-up old Gibson on which he wrote “I Want to Hold Your Hand” long gone at auction. There’d still be a few Rickenbackers hanging on a wall in his apartment, and some gear next to Lake Erie in Cleveland.

He would not go on the road in a tour bus, city-after-city-after-city; leave that for the troubadours. Instead he’d choose to sit in his nowhere land, watching the wheels go round, making nowhere plans for nobody.

He would still imagine. The old fire would spark up from time to time—a letter to the Times against politicians making bullshit excuses for leading people to war, a word on the BBC about African elephants and rhinos, and folks who believe God loves only their skanky asses. His name would not be on any list of public figures calling for the banning of books like The Catcher in the Rye.

If you told him he would never again write songs as fine as “Help,” “In My Life,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Working Class Hero”—that no one can—he’d shrug, tell you to sod off, mind yer own fookin business.

On gray days he would sit in an English garden, waiting for the sun. And sometimes he would stand by the letter box, quiet as a ghost, listening to the wind, and waiting for a love letter from you.

1 comment:

  1. These densely textured and multilayered portraits work on many levels! Good Stuff!