Monthly Archives: July 2012

Learning about myself on tour (these may be universal musings)

Learning about myself on tour (these may be universal musings)

I may be learning
that what I thought was intuition
is largely based on fear.

As I travel, I am faced hourly with decisions I would normally consider big.

When at home, I consider each near and far trip, each half-mile and ten mile venture:
will I walk, bike, drive, use public transportation, or not even go?

I spend a great deal of time at home strategizing about decisions.
On the road, I am facing not half-miles as often, but miles, hundreds of them.
These take lots of time.  These cost money and environmental pollution.
If I deliberate long, I miss opportunities.  Options dwindle.

Do I back track to Wisconsin? to Michigan? to Ohio?
Do I visit this friend? grandmother? city?  town?
Do I keep on my tour route on schedule even when I have nothing lined up in a city?
Should I try this open mic? slam? punk rock show?
Will it be better if I feature? compete? do neither?

When I travel a few hundred miles and all goes well, I am encouraged, overjoyed, grateful.
When I travel a few hundred miles and the show is cancelled, or no one purchases my book or donates to my road support, I question what happened?
What can I do to prevent this next time?  What can I do better?

Sometimes there is nothing better to do.
Sometimes I must only accept provision or the lack thereof.
Bounty or expense.
Sometimes I am offered a bed, a couch, a floor, or I offer myself the bed of my truck.

I am grateful the truck is functioning well.  All’s running well.  I got into a minor accident this week and thus was extremely late for a gig.  I am reminded to slow down, live honest, accept the present, and not worry or try to control the future or the unknown.

Peace is a gift.  It is ready to be received, accepted, held, embraced.

Worry, discontent, frustration, anger, fear, and pain are always also ready to be picked up, held, grasped, and meshed into the very fiber of our beings.  I do this until I remember that I don’t have to.  That it is my choice.

Big decisions about my location, transportation, financial risk, and relational interactions are challenges for me every day; touring comes with all of those decisions.  Touring solo means I face them mostly alone.  This makes it difficult to pack up and leave each and every city, going homeless again.  Many days I want to be home.  Sometimes this translates to wanting to visit family in their homes.  Sometimes this translates to wanting to go back to one of the places I have called home.  Sometimes this manifests in the desire to stake a claim in a new city as home.

But every day, no matter where I am, home must be inside of me.

I put my theology and my sanity to test every day.  I put my values and morals to test every day whether I want or mean to or not.  I am no super hero.  I am no super human.  I am a young man, learning what it means to be a man, learning how it hurts (myself and others) when I choose not to make good decisions, right decisions, sometimes hard decisions.  I am sorry.

It is hard to live in such a way so as not to have to apologize to anyone.  I want to live so as not to apologize to anyone (because I have nothing to apologize for).  I have yet to sustain this.  I want to sustain the responsibility, acceptance, humility, and confidence that are required to live this way.  This is the only way to live art, to be an artist, whether a rock star or a sidewalk busker.

Thus far, I choose to continue living toward these ideals.  I choose to continue the tour.  I believe in what I am doing, in these poems, in these connections and relational interactions.  I want to continue.  But I will need the help of friends in order to do so.

I am thankful for friends who receive my phone calls and messages when my heart breaks, or my windshield breaks, or my wallet, or my mind, or spirit break.  I am grateful for friends and family who receive my calls when I am excited and rejoicing in the surprises I get to experience every day of this tour.  And I am grateful for friends who open their homes and arms to me when I arrive where they are.  These keep me going.  These help sustain a season of sharing away from a home place, out on the road, whenever/wherever I decide to go and share next.

Nuyorican

Nuyorican

Poetry Slam is an interesting creature.  From Portland to NYC, people gather to share and hear their best/our best work.

In Portland, eight poets enter.  There are no scores, only audience applause, single-elimination, three rounds.

In Manhattan (on Wednesday nights), twenty poets enter.  There are judges and scores and only two rounds.

I had a great time sharing.  Brief.  Expensive.  But an experience.  A poet named Keith was my pick to win.  Didn’t happen.  Great work though.

I also got to reconnect briefly with Ken Arkind (great work).  And, I got to meet one of my favorite poets Jared Singer (excellent work too).

small town hungers

small town hungers

I went to a small town in Ohio last night.
Shared some poems.
A woman tackled, straddled, and began trying to hump me…
during my poetry set.

After freeing myself, surprised, I complemented this town’s exuberant expression of gratitude and smiling proceeded as best I could to continue the rest of the show.
Guess these people like poetry—hungry for more of it.

In the morning, I fed chickens, goats, and pigs.  They were hungry.  There were maybe thirty hens and one rooster.  The hens were not very nice to one another.  It was great going into a corn field to feed them.  Seems the chickens keep the weeds and climbers off the corn stalks and their poop and pee fertilizes the soil.  Great system.  Similarly, the goats (each with horns) were head butting one another, competing for the food.  There was plenty enough.  Ornery.

I went to a small town in Indiana this weekend.  A young woman immediately approached me, complementing my hair.
I suppose they don’t get to see as much diversity in fashion—hungry for it—at least dreadlocks.

I went to a concert festival in rural Illinois last week.  A number of new friends and acquaintances advocated for me, opening opportunities for me to share.  I felt honored—hungry for this advocacy.

I went to a barbeque restaurant in suburban Nebraska two weeks ago.
My brother devoured cinnamon butter sweet rolls and chicken—hungry, just plain hungry.

What do you hunger for today?

Who would have known?

Who would have known?

Yellow Springs, Ohio

This amazing place is a utopian oasis in the Midwest.  I’d not have guessed.
These people are radical!
Warm reception.  Close bonding.
Good connections.

Got to share a show with Seth Martin and The Menders and Insomniac Folklore.
In the morning, an amazing new friend made me breakfast from her garden and
we went and fed farm animals at Smaller Footprint/Lesser Footprint/Lower Footprint? Farm?

It was a great day!

July 4th…fifth and sixth…and seventh. Seventh. Towing the party line.

July 4th…fifth and sixth…and seventh. Seventh. Towing the party line.

Happy Fourth of July
from the road.
Tonight, I am camping next to a lake
in a tent, in Bushnell, Illinois.
The occasion: Cornerstone Festival.
I am tired, dirty, but grateful.
It is a challenge to articulate a place of wonder and unknowing
to those at a Christian Art Festival.
I agreed to the challenge.
I accept it.

Happy Fifth.
Two shows today.  Great reception.  Good times.  Met lots of new people.  Made friends.

July Sixth.
I woke to heat, burning through the thin white walls of my tent.  Slept maybe five hours.
Will remember to call it early tonight.

Later…
Big stage, big show tonight.  Short set; one poem.
Opened for Listener, Homeless Gospel Choir, and Flatfoot 56.
Flatfoot’s set was the most energized show I’ve ever seen.  Wild.  Pool party theme.  Wild.
Sold a lot of books.  Met and reconnected with cool people.
As a new poetess friend was leaving, I wiped my sweat embedded forehead on her bandana, as a parting gift.  J  She did not think this was as funny as I thought it was going to be.
A great day.

Saturday, July Seventh.
This is frustrating!  I hear so many tow the party line,
preaching the gospel standard
repetitions.
Where’s the growth in clutching the past?  An anchor never lifted.  A ship never to sail.
How can we live, love, speak,
when people (well meaning) all around us
want us to follow them in slavery
subjection
holding in faith to ideas and teaching like any and all religions do.
I want to stay the best course,
offer the best gift of love and sincerity.
I want truth
and reality.
Why must the most liberal criticize?
Why must the most religious criticize?
Here I am.  All I know.
All I know to do.