Music & Poetry

My serious unprofessional writing career began when I was seventeen. It was my senior year of high school, and that year with the release of “The Doors Greatest Hits” and the book “No one here gets out alive,” I discovered Jim Morrison. Up until that time, I had listened to music with a casual love. I knew nothing made me as happy as listening to music, and I had a few records of my own, but it was mostly just happy noise on the radio. I sang along, I knew the words to the songs, but could never have recited them after the song had finished.

With The Doors, it was different. The lyrics were significant, as much or more so as the music. The words were intriguing. I understood the words, the definitions of each word, but put together, strung together as lyrics, they suggested different meanings. Hinted at or implied meanings. I loved the poetic aspect of The Doors music.

Which lead me to read more about Jim Morrison, how he come to write, keeping notebooks and journals, books he himself had read. I found that some of those books appealed to me, while some did not. Some of Jim Morrison’s philosophical ideas were attractive, while some I rejected as time went on.

What remained with me though was an urge to express myself. I began to keep notebooks or journals myself. Poems and prose pieces, random thoughts, and as I recall poorly expressed bits of philosophy.

I also began to seek other groups in which the singer expressed him or herself in a poetic manner, Patti Smith, Television, Iggy Pop, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, R.E.M., and The Fall all quickly became staples of my growing musical library.

I wrote a lot while listening to music. And I learned a fundamental fact about my own writing. I could hear it, somewhere in my own head. Sometimes as nothing more than a tone or a hum. Sometimes as words themselves, fully formed, arranged and in order. Just a few lines, just a poem, just like that. The more I wrote, the more I heard myself. As though I was exercising and improving somehow.


The Air smells tepid-

Like moist residue

On tin foil


In live situations

The melody of things is often lost

In the rush of anticipation


I had a dream

Of, first birds, then

The fittings of pipes

Time when I was younger was always on my side. I had more time, more free time. Time when after work I would put on the headphones of my walkman, and stroll on the bike path along the bay shore, stopping frequently to write in my notebook. Was I a sight? Did anyone even notice me? Does it matter now? I still listen to music as often as I can. Travelling back and forth to work, finding myself writing not in a notebook, but on my phone. I send myself emails, all entitled “Poem,” often short impressions. I found a long time ago that I prefered a short form of poetry, not a traditional Haiku, but similar. I found a long time ago I prefered objective poetry, such as “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, a heartfelt favorite of mine. An author I discovered researching what Jim Morrison read, the Beat poets, what the beat poets read.

This process works much the same for record collecting. When you find a group that appeals to you, often groups that influenced them will be of interest. I always took special note when a band I liked did a cover song, and would seek out the original version of that song. By this chain of happenstance my record collection grew. As did my book collection, and the ever accumulating pages of my notebooks.


The summer weather

Has a vibration

Suspended two or three feet

Above the yellow grass

I can see it as clearly as

I can see you beyond it


The water’s depth

Controls the rate

Of reflection


“There are twelve notes.

The scale of it is beyond me.

There are twelve steps.

There are bakers dozens.

There are twelve rings.

There are twelve children.

And twelve more. And twelve more.

The Scale of it is beyond me.

There are ten fingers, for twelve notes.

There is music.”