T – Shirt
“Even if it’s easy to be free,
what’s your definition of FREEDOM!
And who the f*#k are you, anyway?
Who the f@$k are they?
Who the f*^k am I to say?
What the f@#k is REALLY goin’ on?
How did the cat get so fat?
Why does a family die?
Do you care why?
He wears his NoFx Tee Shirt to the Mogwai concert,
his Mogwai long-sleeve to the Radiohead show,
excavates his Radiohead Hoodie from exile in his mom’s laundry basket
for an outdoor reggae fest on the Charles River.
It’s an excuse to visit, a ritual he’d picked up from his older brother.
His vintage Pixies Tee? hugs his belly a little too close for comfort
at the George Clinton lecture on funk,
but he doesn’t dance anyway,
or get drunk,
or kiss girls who may find his monumental music collection irresistible.
His mantra, “monks get a lot done,” amuses him a moment
as he waits to buy a Belle & Sebastian Patch
for the beat-up denim jacket he’d inherited from that same brother years ago.
spent planning, picking the perfect apparel for the upcoming night’s performance.
This all goes back to ’94…
canon-balling out the door,
only to crash hard into the brick wall of his brother’s face.
“What the hell are you doing?!!!”
“You can’t go to a Green Day concert wearing a Green Day t-shirt!!!”
“Everyone there already likes the band! That’s why they bought tickets!”
“What? You gonna be twice the fan?”
“Get inside & change, ya little punk!!!”
& his knees boxer-buckled beneath the brutal lesson,
but he never questioned,
simply slipped on a black Beastie Boys “Check Your Head” Tee Shirt
His brother went on to become a college radio DJ,
& those mix-tapes he received
sustained his need for new sounds
between laundry visits.
29 Vinyl –
even without owning a turntable!
Neither aspired to play,
preadolescent piano tutorials ruined too many MTV marathon days.
“Nuff great music out there,”
his brother would say between sips of beer,
as he drove him to the only “decent” record store in town,
“You just gotta look for it…”
59 Vinyl –
still no turntable…
Mom & Dad?
they didn’t go to concerts anymore.
They mainly took anxiety medication,
for fear he would follow
in his brothers swerving skid-marks.
The late night call…
The trip to identify the body…
79 Vinyl –
the used turntable he purchased at a yard sale?
crapped out after only two weeks.
He finds peace
in the challenge of finding the right ironed-on representation to wear
when going out.
He fondly recalls a conversation he shared
with this perfect stranger while waiting in line to see Mogwai
play the Middle East Downstairs Nightclub
They’d spent the pre-admission hour,
rating NoFx albums,
& talking about music.
It’s not like he had a lot of friends
before his brother crashed a car into a telephone poll
after a Chemical Brothers Show in ’99.
He winces when his mother refers to it as “ the accident.”
Tee shirts are not a tribute to some bond they shared.
He’s sees them more as a litmus test
for anyone out there
who may be like him.
“and I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doin’ here?
I don’t belong here…”
That big arena Radiohead stadium show?
It was an exception.
Apart from being a less intimate musical experience,
the numbers & letters on his ticket stub
highlight the fact
that he sits alone.
General admission nightclub shows? let him roam,
in search of a friend
who can weave between pure hip-hop and indie rock
as easily as he negotiates traffic when he drives home sober
He’s never forgiven his brother for taking away his best friend.
He wears the jacket when it’s cold.
Enjoys the juxtaposition between
the “Bad Religion,”
He folds his Modest Mouse t-shirts while contemplating
exactly how to spend the money he got,
selling his brother’s collection
“Forget that sale on I-Pods,”
He’s gonna buy a guitar.
IF IT MUST
If it must fall
I say let the snow blanket us
during the night.
bring too much attention
to our inequalities.
Those of us
focused on the without
studded snow tires
4 wheel added traction
We can have a rough go at it
paid by the hour
little leeway to leave early
beat the storm home.
too much of a reminder.
Sore backs on top of already sore feet
we work hard at hustling
a bag of salt or cup of cocoa.
6 inches by afternoon smoke-break
a boss who wants to stay open
and fellow rat-racers who need us to.
I say let it come down
during our dreams
& we can all awake on
the same slippery footing.
Traffic delays, a shared
point of obvious reference.
Unity of expectation.
we dig out
There’s an old saying….
“If you’re not a rebel by age 20, you’ve got no heart –
but if you haven’t turned establishment by 30… well, YOU’VE GOT NO BRAIN!!!”
Fashionably disinterested chicks, GONE WILD, flashin’ their tits to the apocalypse.
Relatively elevated youth, gone, child, partin’ lips to kiss a pre-traumatic populace.
And how I miss those Disney Days.
Back when the magic eclipsed, the tight fanatical grip, of the goodwill corporate sponsorship, and its evil ways.
I’m just a hop skip and a busted lip away from 30 ya’ll
and I guess I’m still no closer to the establishment.
If I only had a brain – washing machine
operating on the coin cycles that I resent,
living week to week, paychecking the stubs of a dream deferred temperament.
Changes in gratitude,
I’m severing these systems of attitude that I currently represent.
For I shall not fade into that dying of the light-beer commercial,
consumer of the year, dress-up rehearsal,
casual friday, reversal of fortune – tellers,
selling me prophecies…
Just so I can be the pewter race car in the real-life version of Monopoly,
screwing countless victims just for show,
blowing happy hour lines of memory just to turn my back on what I know,
that this society I live in, stopped feeling natural a long time ago.
And even if there’s no actual puppet master to catch the vast net of shame,
it does not excuse us from ignoring the daily decisions
wherein we disassociate ourselves from accepting any blame.
This fraternity of useless phrases we abuse,
choosing to maintain a straight face,
while sipping coffee and discussing the morning news…
“eh, my vote doesn’t count! they’re all crooks, all politicians are the same!”
and how we clutch so vehemently to views that fuel the cauldron of electoral apathy.
Cause I’m just a rocks throw away from 30, damn it!
and the day I say my actions have no direct effect on this dirty little planet,
is the day I go play Hamlet on the corner of Cambridge & South Main,
improvising its meaning, screaming until I’ve had my fill of the neighbors complaints.
“Are we free… or not too free!”
That is the question
I would like to ask the scared little boy who occupies my high school yearbook photo.
I’d ask him about what he wants to be.
I’d ask him how he’d feel about becoming someone like me.
I’d ask him about time… and change… and that strange little heart that I’ve only discovered recently.
Cause I’m just an angel’s kiss away from 30…
another year added to my collection.
And the struggle between my heart & my mind
has finally taken a back seat
to this search dedicated to understanding their connection.
Passionately exhilarating, ways, I search, having a say in shaping my own environment.
I no longer lament the loss of Disney Days.
I know what I am, a rebel with a brain, taking aim at what comes next.