Saturday, April 27, 2013

TALES FROM THE BONUS ROUND: Portland Oregon 1996

First time a big ocean liner

Sailed up the Wilhammette and docked
In Portland Oregon
They lifted the bridge
Helicopters flew over
Flood lights
Afternoon and evening tv news

On board that ship was a dying man
Taking the last cruise of his life
A cruise to Alaska

He had already celebrated the “last birthday” of his life

The previous October
This was now May

He was also desperate to not die
So he made a decision that he would fight
The diarrhea that was draining the life from his
stick thin body

He drank a narcotic syrup to slow down his system
Anti-diarrhea pills on top of that
And he raided every food buffet possible

Even if he could just gain a pound
He a Stephen King character
A ghoul face poking from inside a hoodie
The image you avert your eyes away from
Wasting away
A barely-walking skeleton

He had already held off his death
For the past year
By writing and singing music
Of brutal honesty
Rage, courage, and hope
Written with nothing left to lose

It had worked
The music had had measurable effects
So, he had come back from the brink before

Now, he needed to play the songs for someone
He needed them to be heard
They had had such a magical effect on him
He thought someone else might need them
Maybe they could also heal the world!

But nobody knew him
He was not famous

As he pulled into Portland
He remembered that it was supposed to be a hipster town
There was a singer/songwriter vibe
If he could just find someone
To listen to his songs
Maybe an open mic

After the entry into Portland
With the news copters overhead
Boats saluting with sprays of water
The ship docked downtown
Right at the end of a
Small maze of streets
With bars
He went looking for something

The Ghoul was frail
He walked the narrow, cobbled streets
He said, “I am going to find someone
Who will let me sing”
But it was locked up tight
Bars aren’t open at 10 AM

Then a sign
A blackboard on the street
“Open mic. 9pm”
That won’t work
The ship will have left by 9 pm

The door was propped open. Lights off.
Black interior. The harsh sunlight from the doorway lit
Two guys sitting around
Holding guitars
On break from
Cleaning the floors
Chairs piled in the corner

They’re friendly
“I have these songs.” says Skeletor.
“What do you play?” they ask.
“No piano here, man.”
“I can sing a cappella.”
Skeletor won’t let them out of this
They listen.
Singing: “I heard of a group
With someone like me
Who felt the way I feel...”

Two weeks later, after the cruise,
After all the buffets, the medicine
Enough calories to feed a small nation
He hit the scales
Lost: Another pound.

That’s when he knew it really was over.
It scared him, but he accepted it.

And when he accepted it
An unexpected comfort and peace

Came over him.

No comments: