Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Sunday, April 03, 2005

8 Fragments for Kurt Cobain by Jim Carrol

Genius is not a generous thing
In return it charges more interest than any amount
of royalties can cover
And it resents fame
With bitter vengeance

Pills and powders only placate it awhile
Then it puts you in a place where the planet's
poles reverse.
Where the currents of electricity shift

Your body becomes a nagnet and pulls to it despair
and rotten teeth,
Cheeze Whiz and guns

Whose triggers are shaped tenderly into a false
In timeless illusion

The guitar claws kept tightening, I guess, on your
heart stem.
The loops of feedback and distortion, threaded
right thru
Lucifer's wisdom teeth, and never stopped their
In your mind
And from the stage
All the faces out front seemed so hungry
With an unbearably wholesome misunderstanding

From where they sat, you seemed so far up there
High and live and diving

And instead you were swamp crawling
Down, deeper
Until you tasted the Earth's own blood
And chatted with the buzzing-eyed insects that
herion breeds

You should have talked more with the monkey
He's always willing to negotiate
I'm still paying him off...
The greater the money and fame
The slower the pendulum of fortune swings

Your will could have sped it up...
But you left on an airplane
Because it wouldn't pass customs and immigration

Here's synchronicity for you:

Your music's tape was inside my Walkman
When my best friend from summer camp
Called with the news about you
I listened then...
It was all there!
Your music kept cutting deeper and deeper valleys
of sound
Less and less light
Until you hit solid rock
The drill bit broke
and the valley became
A thin crevice, impassable in time,
As time itself stopped.

And the walls became vises of brilliant notes
Pressing in...
That's how diamonds are made
And that's where it sometimes all collapses
Down in on you.

Then I translated your muttered lyrics
And the phrases were curious:
Like "incognito libido"
and "Chalk Skin Bending"

The words kept getting smaller and smaller
Separated from their music
Each letter spilled out into a cartridge
Which fit only in the barrel of a gun

And you shover the barrel in as far as possible
Because that's where the pain came from
There where the demons were digging

The world outside was blank
Its every cause was just a continuation
Of another unsolved effect

But Kurt...
Didn't the thought that you would never write
another song
Another feverish line or riff
Make you think twice?
That's what I don't understand
Because it's kept me alive, above any wounds

If only you hadn't swallowed yourself into a coma
in Rome...
You could have gone to Florence
And looked into the eyes of Bellini or Rafael's

Perhaps inside them
You could have found a threshold back to beauty's arms
Where it all began

No matter that you felt betrayed by her
That is always the cost
As Frank said,
Of a young artist's remorseless passion

Which starts out as a kiss
and follows like a curse

-- There was a special on TV several years ago, long before Russell
Simmons Def Poetry on cable, that showcased spoken word poets.
Someone introduced this "fierce poet" and Jim Carrol started reading
after the death of Cobain. It really struck me because I'd heard
about him from as far back as I can remember, "Basketball Diaries"
and all that. Here I thought he was gonna be this 70 year old guy
walking out, but there he stood, just as vital and asking the
perpetual "Why?" as the words in the poem, voiced from the living to
the dead. It definitely made an impact.

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