to a great street musician & poet*

bashing on an
upturned bucket
in arapaho rhythm
stamping his boots
on the bitterly
cold and ashen
blind but knowing
which way the streets
blow and what
down them
haranguing the
columbia recording men
going in and out
through the rotating
door not even
seeing that ‘gone cat’
anymore with his
viking helmet spear
and heavy robe
his poems that
rambled in and
out of that same
door to the hearing
of the girl at
the front desk
his cranking up the
old tape deck
timing in and out
with his own
lone self
in full voice
and beat
pure and beat
a man companion
to music bless
the onward river
of his composition
those riddling and
rhyming sounds.

9 may 2014
nelson st, howick

*the motive to write this piece came from listening to a broadcast on Radio New Zealand Concert presented by a Mr. Ryan Smith of Silversmith Music, and which introduced the person of Moondog, a blind street musician and his music. The incidents referred to above ‘haranguing the Columbia recording men’ refer to Moondog setting himself up outside Columbia studios; eventually he recorded an album for Columbia; some ‘poetic license’ has been taken with my recounting of the facts as presented in the broadcast. The reference to the ‘Arapaho rhythm’ references Moondog’s experience as a child joining in with a drum at an Arapaho ‘Sun Dance’ he witnessed; Moondog also liked to sing/rap/play against a tape of himself reading his poetry or playing instruments, a kind of primitive double-tracking. The costume Moondog preferred was as a Viking with horned helmet, spear and robe. The whole broadcast can be still found at:

I recommend the programme to anyone who reads this piece and wonders what the hell is going on. I found a number of his compositions posted on Youtube as this ‘lament’ with its spoken intro for Charlie Bird, the jazz musician:

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