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Gail Butensky’s “Every Bend” is out today on Bamboo Dart Press

Gail Butensky has honed her unique photographic style over decades. Her hard fought for angles and shots at thousands of live concerts over the years has served her more recent work of equally fleeting moments: shots of the desert shifts or of trains or of flora. Hers is a style rooted in nature and chance. When shooting photos of bands like Big Black, The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Fuck, The Minutemen, Husker Du, Virginia Dare or Pavement, you can see the connection between subject and photographer. Sure, some wacky poses or taking the piss out of photo shoot antics is at play, but you won’t find much in her canon of work that utilizes anything other than natural light, stumbled upon flowerings, or abandoned settings. She is not a set decorator, she is a gum shoe on the fly. In her first commercially available book Every Bend which it out this week, Gail has shorthanded her life in twenty six photos with commentary about each photograph. It is as weighty and personal as any poetry or revealing autobiography that I have read, tricking the reader/viewer that it is all happenstance, really nothing at all. You, of course, will know better. Good photography has the ability to stop you in your tracks. Her work does that.

Your photographs have appeared in and on a myriad of magazines, record covers and books by others over the years.  You mentioned when we first started this project that you had put together small books built out of the same cloth of Every Bend for friends, minus the writing that you did in this book.  Was it a similar process putting this book together?
The books I  put together in the past were each for a specific trip- more as a souvenir and thank you to whoever I traveled with! They had words, simple captions, with the photos pasted into a sketchbook. This book was different because the photos were from a long stretch of many different times and places. For this book I spread finished prints all over the dining room table and ordered and reordered and edited until I had what I thought was some sort of semblance of a cohesive ‘story’. Then I made up words. A general overview travelogue.
You have done quite a bit of commercial work for magazines, record labels, bands, but that work is near impossible for me to sort from your work as an artist, a photographer shooting what and how she likes.  Do you approach work on the commercial side in a different context?
Maybe sometimes…. It seems a lot of my ‘commercial’ work ( I even hesitate to call it that) is published by happenstance. Photos I may have taken anyway, I was there, I took pictures, now someone wants to use them. In the small amount of time I was more formally assigned to shoot something, I pretty much shot it all the same way. No studios or set ups for me. Mostly on the fly.
A number of artists harden, get set in their ways with age.  I love in the work I have seen of yours from the last few years that you continue to play with the medium of photography.  There is a playfulness and inquisitiveness in your early work that is still very much alive in the present.  Once photos are taken, do you play with filters, process et al still?
Oh I’m an instagrammer now! I do miss the darkroom and real film, very much, but without that access (and time), I’ve had a good time playing around with digital toys. Not much in real retouching  or photo shop (I never did that on prints anyway), just fun stuff. And since I ‘ve always had a camera in my pocket, now I just have my phone. The only difference is its a little bit lighter… and I probably shoot even more because you can delete and save so easily. Maybe too easy?
Does your eye disrupt your day to day life?  Do you find you have to stop what you are doing to snap something?
Ah, it disrupts me when I’m not feeling lazy…. Driving a lot in LA, I do sees stuff and think ‘pull over!’ But I’m usually in a rush to get someplace. I may note the spot and think on going back, but…. Walking is much better. I stop to take pictures a Lot. I’m usually behind anyone else I’m walking with… (except Greg- he’s a slow poke).
What is likeliest to catch your eye?  Make you stop what you are doing and snap pictures?
So many different things! I’m obsessed with square hedges lately. Why???? Still trying to come up with the acronym for my hashtag. But whenever I’m out walking, a lot more these days, it can be a view, a small strange thing by the side of the road, a juxtaposition, who knows… it’s so easy to stop, look, take a picture. Sometimes it doesn’t translate, and I can save or delete, but sometimes it’s even funnier in the relooking!

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Peter Cherches “Tracks: Memoirs from a Life with Music” is out now

Peter Cherches is a vital member of the New York literary scene. Sonorexia, the avant-vaudeville music/performance group he co-led with Elliott Sharp appeared at a wide range of venues in New York City. Peter’s first album as a jazz vocalist, Mercerized! Songs of Johnny Mercer, featuring Lee Feldman on piano, was released in 2016. In his new Bamboo Dart Press book Tracks: Memoirs from a Life with Music, Cherches reflects on the artists and the sounds that have informed his life. It is a fascinating diving board for Cherches to jump from but will not leave the light music listener stranded on the shore as he pairs music history with his own.

The entry on Sam Rivers struck me as a large part of what your book is about.  Music as a companion.  The entry on the series of shows you saw Jazz artist Rivers perform in his loft could have been a book in and of itself.  There is quite a bit revealed about you in this chapter, in what you valued about these experiences as you veered from teendom to adulthood.

You can get a group of three or four hardcore jazz fans together and they’ll happily reminisce for hours about the shows they’ve seen over the years, but it would make for a pretty boring book. When I started writing these memoirs I thought carefully about what I could convey that might resonate with readers regardless of their specific musical interests, and for me that’s giving form to my enthusiasms and trying to recreate the experience of the moment as well as the echoes over a lifetime.

Writing about music is as difficult as writing about dance.  It is not a concrete form.  A good portion of the book is about your experience in and around the edges of music, but there are passages that delve into the artist and the artist’s work such as your dissecting of Steve Lacy’s Micro Worlds.  On writing these entries, did you revisit each work?  Leave it to memory?

I think it’s the same for all arts. If anything, I find writing about writing more difficult because one is using the same tools, while with music I feel I have more leeway to find my own entry point via language. In some cases it was to situate the music as a soundtrack to an experience, and in others I was more consciously, in part at least, writing tributes to artists who have inspired me–and in most cases it was music that I think had an impact on my prose writing. I did listen to all the music again. In the case of Lacy, I knew I wanted to write about one of the tracks from that album, but I reviewed the whole thing to decide which track would be the most fertile place from which to riff on Lacy’s art.

A number of entries feature your brother or your grandparents or others acting as guides be it to the store, or from records pulled from their collections. 

I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family that had definite musical enthusiasms. My older brother wasn’t especially interested in rock, but he encouraged my interests, whatever they were. I think the essence of the book is the enthusiasms, the specifics being the armature to hang them on.

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Refrigerator Deluxe LP Components Unveiled

Refrigerator’s new LP “So Long To Farewell” is out on May 15th. Preorders of the regular edition LP and the Deluxe colored vinyl LP with bonus CD and Bamboo Dart Press book are available from Revolver USA and Grapefruit Distribution. The deluxe version is a one time pressing strictly limited to 150 copies. The Jean Smith cover art houses the marbled green & white 160 gram vinyl, download code, bonus CD with six exclusive tracks and the 68 page Bamboo Dart Press book. The regular edition is a 160 gram black vinyl LP + download code.

Deluxe Edition on colored wax + extras pictured here
LP w/ hype sticker on sleeve
Book cover
Bamboo Dart Press book

Bonus CD cover

Bonus CD back cover

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Refrigerator Announce New Record

Check out the lead off track from the forthcoming Refrigerator record below. The LP is available for presell as a deluxe swirled green marble edition with a bonus CD of exclusive tracks as well as a bound 60 page Bamboo Dart Press book featuring artwork and writing by the band as well as a standard edition 160 gram black vinyl edition. Cover art by Jean Smith will be auctioned off week of street with all proceeds benefitting the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change program.

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Romaine Washington’s forthcoming “Purgatory Has An Address” book is available for preorder now

Romaine Washington is the author of Sirens in Her Belly (2015, Jamii Publications). She is a fellow of The Watering Hole, South Carolina and the Inland Area Writing Project at the University of California Riverside. She is an active member of the poetry community in the Inland Empire, through the Inlandia Institute and elsewhere. Romaine is an educator and a native Californian from San Bernardino. Her new book Purgatory Has An Address is out April 15th and available for preorder now. The book boils down Washington’s talent of sifting out the superfluous without sacrificing the beauty of language.

Purgatory Has An Address reads to me like an economical autobiography.  You write in a number of the poems in the book about a little girl that I am assuming is you, about your Mom and Dad and brother.

Yes, most of the poems in the book are autobiographical based on family experience. A few years ago my mom died and left a packet of photos that allowed me to put together her homegoing program. These photos were evidence of the many life stories she shared with me. Sifting through her snapshots spun me into a place where I could give myself permission to ask questions and voice ideas that I had previously kept at bay. Some emotions spun around like a car tire stuck in the mud. Other feelings expressed themselves as these long meandering journeys that walked around old neighborhoods.

Yes, most of the poems in the book are autobiographical based on family experience. A few years ago my mom died and left a packet of photos that allowed me to put together her homegoing program. These photos were evidence of the many life stories she shared with me. Sifting through her snapshots spun me into a place where I could give myself permission to ask questions and voice ideas that I had previously kept at bay. Some emotions spun around like a car tire stuck in the mud. Other feelings expressed themselves as these long meandering journeys that walked around old neighborhoods.

Your poetry is not built to be a reflection of the reader, a mirror. There are not pluralities of “we” referencing yourself and the reader, it is an unabashed portrait of you.  I think about how welcoming it is to the reader though. How the coldness and starkness of what you write in some of your verse is often presented between a curious naked painting of emotions without frills. It is incredibly effective and moving.  Are you consciously boiling down these memories in verse to their base?

Yes, in my editing process I try to remove extraneous words and capture the truth of the experience. I have a writing friend and we share our writing on Google doc and read each other’s work. One of her mantras is “vulnerability”. I have a tendency to get lost in the music of language. At one point the Meditation in Dissolving Boundaries was almost about a jazzy cow going to high school and gossiping as the girl in the poem uses her imagination to meld with the cow to become a happy heifer. My friend’s response was – I like all of this, but what happened to the original flow and rhythm of the poem?

Another instance of conscious distillation of the emotions in the poems was with Decommission, Norton AFB, 1994  poem. It was a long rambling four pages of colliding senses and emotions. I brought it to a workshop and the wonderful facilitator’s suggestion was to write the poem as a letter to Norton AFB. Following her advice brought me to the core of what I was really feeling.  Some of the poems in this collection were new and others were five years in the writing and revising process.

There is a grouping of poems halfway through the book that are about the Inland Empire of your youth, my youth.  The Chino winds, the horseflies, the baked dirt.  South Carolina and San Bernardino County have a lot in common.  That these writings are in this intensely personal book seems to point to how much your surroundings shaped you.

Yes, I do believe that the rituals we adopt as part of our way of seeing and navigating our surroundings is based on where we live and they become a part of who we are. For certain, it is the setting of all of our personal narrative.  For example, because my father was in the military, Norton Air Force Base wasn’t just a place of economic stability for San Bernardino, but for our family. When my father died, the air force base was a constant that I, like many residents, thought we could rely on.

When we talk about images of black children and women in stories and movies, the last thing that comes to mind for many people is not the life of someone who lives in a middle-class home next to a farm but this was my lived experience. It is not glamorous nor profane, it is not urban-dangerous, edgy or sexy. My memory of place and the  everydayness of hopes, disappointments, and searing boredom are part of my life’s snapshots.

Religion and magic are given equal time in your book filled with minor or missed miracles, resurrections, performers on stage with wands, wizards behind glass withholding sealed documents of origin and the dissection of a couple of disappearing acts. You do not fall on the side of one or the other but utilize the attributes of each of them in the place of loss. Could you speak to that?

I love this observation because faith and hope are so much a part of our existence, whether we are Christian, Catholic, Jewish… As we know, life is a series of choices and walking through or running from their consequences and the residual effects. Things happen, either by choice or design and oftentimes, there is very little we can do to change or control it. The opening poem asks, “What’s Your Story?”. Our stories are embedded in our faith in and hopes for and being able to even speak to the event or events, requires perseverance and sometimes a reframing of our experiences to support our perceptions, real or imagined.

Inside a Burning Building is one of the last poems in the book written during the full bloom of Covid-19.  Like other good writing, this poem could be about any mental or physical malady.  There is a striking final stanza that relates to your life in the poem about imploring a friend to write, suggesting that writing is life.  You have dedicated your adult life to teaching, to other writers, and the writing that you do.  Can you give advice to young writers about how to find their unique voice?

That is an interesting question. I am often asked what advice I can give to young writers and I really want to say that any advice about writing could actually be shared with writers of any age. Writing is one of the few things that we can do at any age. So, I offer the same advice to young and old: read for enjoyment, write honestly, and go to workshops so you can be around others who enjoy writing, receive prompts, and feedback.

The person I wrote that poem for was a writing workshop participant in her 60’s who was just starting her personal creative writing journey. So, my best advice is to start writing and keep writing. Know that it can help you discover what you feel and can help you add meaning to your life and the lives of your readers.

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Gail Butensky “Every Bend” book out on Bamboo Dart Press May 10th

You may not know who Gail Butensky is, but if you have seen photographs of The Minutemen, Big Black, Husker Du, Pavement, TFUL282 or a rash of others, hers are some of the photos of them that you will recognize.  Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, The San Francisco Guardian, The Chicago Reader and a myriad of other magazines and papers chronicling punk and underground music scenes over the last four decades.  Butensky has not only chronicled some of the most important music of those years, but has shot thousands upon thousands of photographs of the non music world that are illuminating to see through her eyes.  In the first published collection of her photographs, Butensky has chosen a thumbnail journey of her life. Sure, there are photos of bands, and artists, but also of landscapes and portraits of everyday life. Each photo features a newly written reflection by Butensky.  Check out the trailer which features photos by her not included in her new book on Bamboo Dart Press Every Bend which is out on May 10th and available for preorder now.

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Trailer for Allen Callaci’s “17 & Life” book on Bamboo Dart Press

Allen Callaci’s new book 17 & Life is out on June 1st on Bamboo Dart Press. A thoughtful and meditative prayer on loss, the book expands upon an early blog post of his that has now quadrupled in length and features photographs by Buzzsaw. The book is stark and painted with the ache of experience and age, lovingly ode to life, not death. Check out the trailer featuring a brand new recording of Refrigerator’s song Seventeen as reimagined for this book by Allen.

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Sunday Prayers

Call them libertines or infidels, call us doubting heathens if you want. Still, we dream. Our prayers, you think unheard, but no. All hopes & wishes are heard. I awake at 5:45 AM most mornings, and the first thing on my mind are my ankles. I crack them left to right, and I send up my low rent/high rent versions of psalms and prayers to my pals that are deep into, deep, you, into the depths of sorrow, hurt, maladies. I send up smoke signals that I believe, are seen. Seen. I do not believe that no one is there, though I have no (g)od standing guard over me.

Personal choice, but my family and friends, to the void? Nah. I believe in them. I believe in them. Nah. Repent. For maybe I was felonious for casting them. Casting them out. Casting, not to catch, but to disavow. So we, we live with that. So I, I wrestle in the dark with definitions askew. I can still, to the mountain, pilgrimage and triplicate check for you.

Once a week for a year, for them, from my mole hill of a mountain top, comes one of them mimiographed weekly missilettes. The kind that were tucked into the pews at St. Josephs. Tucked in there for me to read from, though I don’t recall believing, though I don’t recall believing.

Every Sunday, a believer in non-believers. A believer in believers. My heart is with you. I click on the link. I push pull a password and then strain to remember, to write about you. You and me, and our families. It can’t matter that I am unheard. It can’t matter for I have heard the good word. The good word slinks, it hunches in the pit, whispers under it’s breath, please don’t land on me. Too. I too, don’t want to be seen and equally, don’t need no prayers of mine to be heard. We are running, we are stumbling, I try to think back to how long I had been aware that I am bound to fail. The age of thirteen? That sounds about right. Since I was thirteen, I knew I was bound, bound not for glory, but to fail.

Weekly entries for Sunday Prayers are entered every Sunday at midnight Pacific Coast Time in the states. Waves, deleted weekly to make way for the incoming. We are coming. We are in. We are coming, and then with our filthy feet, we enter the in.

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Romaine Washington “Purgatory Has An Address” due out April 15th

We are as busy as a teenager’s phone here at Bamboo Dart Press. We have an incredible string of a half dozen books out through June starting with Romaine Washington’s book of poetry Purgatory Has An Address. Her reading of At The End of The Devil’s Breath from her forthcoming book captures the sparks in the wind of the Inland Empire. The book is equally as stunning, a portrait of real world spaces that she has occupied. Every word, another splinter of that address that she once live at, once left, or is tending to now.

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Peter Cherches “Tracks: Memoirs From a Life with Music” is out May 4th on Bamboo Dart Press

 Peter Cherches is a vital member of the New York literary scene. Sonorexia, his collaborative “avant-vaudeville” band with multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp, has appeared at a wide range of venues in New York City. Pete’s first album as a jazz vocalist, Mercerized! Songs of Johnny Mercer, featuring Lee Feldman on piano, was released in 2016. Hear a piece of that in the trailer above and check out his previous three books issed by Pelekinesis Books  Whistler’s Mother’s Son (2020), Autobiography Without Words and Lift Your Right Arm. We are thrilled to be issuing his latest book Tracks: Memoirs From a Life with Music on May the 4th.

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Stephanie Barbe Hammer’s Rescue Plan is out this week on Bamboo Dart

Stephanie Barbe Hammer’s Rescue Plan is a complex little novella. I have gone back to it a number of times over the ensuing months since I first read it. The characters that inhabit the book are complex, the reveal in the small minute and most of them do not do nor go where you would expect they might. Barbe Hammer describes her style as magical realism. As one who abhors genres for all that is lost in their simple definition, I can think of no two better words to describe Rescue Plan. Like writers Richard Ford or Lucia Berlin, there is something otherworldly at play in this seemingly small town coming of age story. The slow motion dissolves that push backgrounds to the fore only to themselves decay, ebb and reveal other secrets is just one of the magic tricks that I have been able to pinpoint upon repeated readings. I caught up with Stephanie to discuss her new book, her poetry and her fantastic blog on the eve of her new book being published. The book is available February 10th directly from us at Bamboo Dart Press as well as your favorite independent bookstores, Revolver USA, Grapefruit, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and more.

It strikes me that the first four books on Bamboo Dart press are all short stories written by writers that also write poetry.  Your short stories are, from my perspective, as musical as your poems, which is not to say that you follow a form, but the that the divide between the two is thin.  Have some of your poem extended themselves to the point of being short stories in the past?
The dividing line for me between prose and poem is very thin, and when I started writing fiction (I was a poet first) that line was extremely fuzzy and hard to manage — which is why my first book of poems was a collection of prose-poems, that quintessential “I get to have it both ways” hybrid. But now, I can tell early on when I’m writing when something is going to be a story (and therefore in prose, at least at this point), and when it’s going to be a poem. Poems are about images and deepening those sensations, plunging you into the moment and staying there as long as we can, before having to come up for air. A story and a novel are — just about inevitably it seems to me — about a journey from one space to another. Either geographically, psychologically, or both. I am remembering though, that there were longer lyrical moments in RESCUE PLAN, which is about — among other things — the joy of swimming. So that poetic dive into the water and trying to stay there for a long time…. that was there in the first set of drafts. So, I just deconstructed my own answer. The dividing line remains pretty thin.

So many of your poems are about neighbors, community, the day to day goings on that they could fit into the imaginary town Narrow Interior that you write of in some of your short stories.  Readers of your work may not puzzle in the fact that so many of your stories, including your latest book “Rescue Plan” take place within the same city limits.  What was the origin of this town?  Will this place continue to populate stories for you?
I love this question! Narrow Interior started off as a riff on the New England town, Northampton, which is where I went to college (and near to where I went to summer camp). But it very quickly became something else. Narrow Interior has got layers of Southampton Long Island, as well as various college towns that I’ve visited as a professor. There is some Claremont California in Narrow Interior, and there’s some Bellingham Washington thrown in and some Olympia as well. There’s even a touch of Goshen Indiana, where I went for a summer when I was 17. My first novel takes place in Narrow Interior and my second novel — which I’m seeking a home for — sets out from there. But above all Narrow Interior is a fairy-tale town that — like all towns in America — has a history of atrocity that it has not come to grips with. As a result, it is both a potentially dangerous and deeply wondrous place in ways that I’ll unveil for readers bit by bit in my forthcoming books.

The longing and pining by so many characters in “Rescue Plan” struck me, Gomer, the main character, is colored in and revealed by all that is unsaid between his lover, his father, his friends and even his coach in a manner that rewards on repeated readings. Hand in hand, so much of the readers expectations of where the characters might land never materializes.  So many attributes that would be the defining characteristic of these characters in even a longer novel, do not come to define those in your new book.  It is structurally fascinating to me.  Was this story written that way, or carved out in the editing process to stand in this manner?
Funny that you should mention longing. I’m reading Proust right now, and it’s such a pleasure, because Proust insists on being very leisurely and taking us through all of the wanting of his characters in all of their nuanced permutations. Few of us have the leisure and the financial wherewithal to write like, let alone read, Proust. But in a concentrated way, I try to invite my readers to join in with the complexity of Gomer’s longings, because what we want matters. The story was always about that. And I guess in the gaps of what the characters say to each other, I’m trying to create even more space, for them to want other things, and for us to want things for them. Those gaps got more spacious in the final edits. 
I love your Blog Writing (un) real and what is reveals about your creative life and your waking life.  You wrote a beautiful piece about the imagined life of your and your husband’s mothers that brought me to tears on your blog recently.  There is a lot of blur between realism and fantasy that runs throughout your work.  It reads like you are utilizing whatever is necessary to reveal something of greater worth than simply a well written story.  I wonder if you arrive here consciously or unconsciously as you create.

Here’s how my brain works. When I was 4 I was playing Romeo and Juliet with my doll. I had never seen the play of course. I knew only that there was a balcony scene and that Romeo was down on 67th street (I’m a former New Yorker), and that Juliet was upstairs saying “Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?”  I remember thinking something like “what the heck is Juliet doing up here? She needs to get DOWN to Romeo.” So I threw my doll out the window. because I was thinking “They need to be together! So, we’ll just have to change the story.” As luck would have it my doll fell onto the window sill of my grandfather’s workroom in the basement of the apartment building where we lived.  My mother was talking to him and she SAW the doll on the sill. Oh man, was she mad that I’d been so careless with my toys!But to this day, I stand by my decision to have Juliet jump from the balcony, just like, in my most recent “true” story, I move my mother and mother in law to Paris. I am always thinking “How do we change this story? How do we get out and have love and adventure and togetherness?” That’s my whole project in a nutshell. I’ve been a magical realist from the get-go, I guess. 

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Bamboo Dart Press to release Dennis Callaci’s “Five Ghost Stories” book January 15th

I stayed away from you across all of these platforms for all of these decades because I didn’t want to write about me. I never had a manager, a label liaison, no in house nothing. I mean, I will share with you my shortcomings and foibles. There is nothing there that would shock or awe anyone. Your life is rough around the bends, dog-eared and trying, and you have been kind to not place that weight on me. I appreciated that, so I in turn did this for you. We can confess to one another in person, have a drink or not, hell, those are some of the best and worst moments of my life. The best and worst, sure, but also worth every moment spent on them. I recall sitting in the round with one of my closest friends and a group of her pals that I had never met. One of those newly introduced to me over drinks confessed that she was a suicidal alcoholic. No one else at the table said a thing to that. This was not news to them. This was only news to me. I had nothing in my back pocket, I was taken aback. Like most of you, I have lost too many friends to one or the other of these maladies and it hurts me still, those ghosts and those memories.

Trailer for Five Ghost Stories

I recall looking her in the eye, and telling her that the reason she was saying this in my company, my virgin company, was because she knew she had to do something about her life. I told her that I didn’t know her at all, but I knew her music, and so by default, I did know more about her than I rightly should. I asked her if she would get some help, not the help of a friend, or family, but of professionals. “Don’t let it get so horrific that you end up in county, half alive, half out of your mind. Get help now of a better kind.” I said, but certainly less succinctly and to the point. It will be lesser help that any of us will get in crisis mode. You are near crisis mode. I knew that from experience. “Do it now” I said then.

Silence fell. No one, not a thing. Her friends that were gathered around that thrift store bar pedestal table with me had all said this to her before, I am sure. They didn’t want to add anything. She didn’t want to address this reaction of mine. I couldn’t stop myself from having said it. I would say it again were I there now, even knowing it would serve no purpose. I wouldn’t just sit there having said that, like I did then. That was my mistake. I should have left. Ah, but the ego soapbox doesn’t work that way. You always have something more to say, don’t you? All bells, whistles and calls but no pick up, no delivery. I was a stranger. I had hoped to see her again. Again but changed. If I was one that prayed, I would also be on bended knee hoping that I would be more worldly, knowledgeable upon our next meeting to offer a true salve. To offer you something more than warmed over trite sounding advice that had landed at your feet on a monthly basis for years.

The artists and painters and writers that I know, so many of them have told me that they are happiest in their work when they are lost and don’t know where they are going. That the great reveal comes to them sometimes years after a work is completed. I don’t put myself in the category of any of them, those terms, but I know precisely that which they are speaking of. I wrote a book titled 100 Cassettes that came out earlier this year. I didn’t know it was going to be an autobiography. I didn’t see the reveal of all of my shortcomings and foibles, reflections as anything other than a piece of work about music. Then it came to me from the printing press, bound up instead of scribbles and fevered notes. Like that troubled drinker, it was only then that it blurted out what it was. Some off ramp autobiography, not largely about me so much as those and that which informed and shaped me. Those records. Those friends. Those conversations.

Five Ghost Stories is a book of five fictional short stories that I wrote. It is out on January 15th on http://www.bamboodartpress.com. I chose these five stories out of forty that I had written this calendar year with you in mind. Us at that table, the first and only time that I met you. You, shocked at the timbre and panic in your voicing to the five of us that night. You reminded me of my friends, my family, myself. When I was younger, I would have been horrified, but at that moment I was reminded of all those that we had lost. My circle, how many were gone and how many of us had mourned and continue to mourn those losses. I couldn’t save any of them, none of us could. Who was I to think I could save anyone? Do them justice, that is the best that I can deliver for the asking.

I thought of you when I put this one to bed. I am thinking still, of you and that night. I am hoping the best only for you, and I know that sounds like nothing, like less than praying, but it isn’t. Hope is harder to come by than prayer. I see people praying everywhere. I see just as much hopelessness. We were given these sternums, these vessels inside of vessels to hold near all of that memory. A heart to keep our loved ones chambered up and safe from the physical harm that will come to all of them in time. You probably don’t remember me, that one chance meeting, but I have been carrying you in there all of the eves since we sat in the round. Another smoke signal. Another slight movement. A little something from you to me to prove that you am still living. Ah, the rise of your chest as you inhale, you are still there. I exhale and watch my sternum pull my ribs down like pearls, gently, one by one.