Old Meets Young Meets Old

Seven years ago I started collaborating with a blues poet (Richard Leach). We are about the same age (60 something) so we share the same influences. Since then I have put music to eighteen of his poems. We have also collaborated with one of his poems that he recited and I mixed with visuals and audio. It has worked well for both of us.

Six months ago I had this big idea that for our next arrangement, I would find a female voice to sing the song and surprise Richard! Well, I started looking and found a number of good candidates (at fairly reasonable rates). Before I could reach out to any of them, I was conversing with a co-worker who mentioned that his daughter sings. So, I asked…”do you think she could sing for my next project?” He thought for a few seconds and said, “well, I can ask”. I said, “Yeah, all she can say is no, right?”

Then it dawned on me that I had never heard this person sing before! What if she isn’t right for the raw nature of blues? Of course by that time, I had already committed. Whatever happened next would just have to play out the way it always does…one step at a time.

Upon receiving email information, we started to correspond. Her name is Janine, a twenty-something young lady living in Van Nuys (L.A.). After a couple of weeks of correspondence, she sent me a link to some songs she had performed on stage. Her voice is “pure”. That’s what I told her, and I meant it. When I hear it, I think of a child searching for answers. There is a certain longing to it. Not sure if that makes sense.

Well, I knew that the traditional blues approach wasn’t going to work. I suggested that she give me some time to work on an appropriate composition that would fit her voice. During the next four months I created several melody lines, but just couldn’t seem to push through with lyrics. I had hit the wall. It’s ok, sometimes it happens. It was time to back away, let it rest, and come back to it with fresh eyes later.

Then something very cool happened. (More on that tomorrow)


All activity had ended.
There were no more murmurations.
Even the swallows and ducks had called it a day.
A sure sign that all was finished.
Even the sun had all but left the building.

There were two exposures already cooking in my camera.
I let the camera rest, strapped to my neck.
Ready to let the shot remain unfinished.
Then out of my periphery…movement beyond the trees.
A six foot giant….or great egret.

He was tired, and he ignored me.
His glide path was sure to bring him into view.
Snatching the camera up to my eye, I focused.
I was using a manual focus Lensbaby, so getting him in the correct plane was imperative.

His glide was so slow that I had enough time.
Focused, metered, placed in the negative space of the composition.
Sometimes these things work.

Sunset On Red

Unsettled was my body
Like dust illuminated
Through window’s light
Every atom

Melded with this daily ritual
When blood fills the sky
And a sudden hush
Closes every mouth

All of us
Taken up
Taken aback
Willingly surrendered
To the moment’s
Weightless calling

“Sunset on Red” – 12″x12″ Oils on canvas


We are in agreement
The birds and I
Our sacred covenant
N’er to be broken

They swear
To look for you
At every corner
And shadow

For the price of suet and seed

And when found
They will report to me
Your whereabouts
In complete detail
Whether high or low

They follow my every step

Now, no longer
Do I wait by lit window
Nor anticipate another sunset
Without half of my soul

Be it cliff or chilly waters
Mired exposure
Dangers from vicious beasts
Dangers from within
Or falls within the abyss of doubt

We will find you
And you will find me
In this new place
You bring us to.

There is no such thing as Valentines Day. There is no such thing as romance. There is only the practice of love. It takes us through dark places into the light. It takes our every ounce of strength, and gives us comfort when everything changes. And only works, when we give everything without accounting.
Not easy.