Thursday 16 July 2020

For Andrew: Dark Star: Beat Sysiphus

Me & Andrew on chalumeau & shruti box in the woods.

In memory of my good friend Andrew Fox I present:
  • A poem dedicated to his memory
  • A piece of music by the Grateful Dead which we both liked & which inspired the poem
  • A recording of my poem Beat Sisyphus featuring Andrew playing shruti box in the backing track & myself on chalumeau as in the photo

For Andrew

After Dark Star by the Grateful Dead.
July 2020

At the end of the movie
The Dark Star crashes
Those guys were crazy
Pouring its light into ashes
Picking at the paint
On the picture frame.
Reason tatters forces
Torn loose from the axis
Mere enlightenment
Is set loose upon the world.
Mirror shattered
Matter a formless reflection
Revolving in the night
Of goodbye
To speed the plough
Through the transitive
Nightfall crazy diamond.
Morning, evening
A pub lunch, a circle dance
My friend was waiting
In the station, in his cap
We were laughing
At the absurdity of it all.
Hand dissolving,
The pint glass stands empty.

Dark Star is a classic Grateful Dead song. The band had an interesting take on piracy (in those days the making of tapes.) They asked that fans not make copies of albums but gave permission for folks to make as many copies of their live performances as they wished. Because of this there is a huge archive of Dead gigs spanning decades. The version above is just over two minutes long but the band, being famous for holding together a show while seriously tripping sometimes took 30 minutes or more over it. This is, I must point out, not to everyone's taste (eg our wives) but we thought it was rather wonderful. At one point we trawled through the archives to see who could find the longest one. Andrew did, it was about 45 mintues long. Nowadays to have this elevating experience all you have to do is type "Dark Star Grateful Dead live" into Youtube or Google & you can find loads of them. I think that some of the longer ones are better than this single version.

Opening with a sound bite of Allen Ginsberg reading from his poem The Sunflower Sutra & featuring Andrew on shruti box in the backing track, this poem contemplates the task of the writer as well as male friendship.

Andrew dancing with Elephant up a Pole Morris on Earlsdon Street, Coventry

Thank you.

Om A Hum

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