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Angela fell in love with her monkeys
In the lab and then she was ordered
To euthanize them and there
Was no choice she thought
Because they’d lived in cages
All their lives and her saying this
Made me think of Winchester
Our big black Labrador who was
Calm and sweet and eager
To please the household
Except when fireworks erupted
Over the city and the noise and
Excitement drove him nuts and
He would escape the house
And run down the street past
The crowds looking up
At the sky saying ahhhhhh
Every time a flower of light
Filled the sky and Winchester
Terrified must have thought
The stars were exploding the moon
Was falling and he would run
For miles but somehow always
Found his way to Bernie’s
Front porch to hide until
The sky was silent and
Hearing about Angela’s monkeys
And thinking of Winchester
Barking at the bursting sky
Reminded me of Moondog
The blind Viking of 6th Avenue
Busking his records when few
Knew he was a brilliant composer
Self-trained by reading
Scores in braille and living in
Manhattan when he met Charlie
Parker and liked the sense of
Humor in Charlie’s music and
Donned a horned helmet so he
Wouldn’t be confused with Christ
Having rejected Christianity at
An early age and instead posted
Himself near the 52nd Street strip
Where he christened himself
Moondog in honor of a hound
That used to howl at the moon
More than any dog
He knew and later he moved
To a house in Candor NY where
He maintained an altar to Thor
Who showed him the rhythms of
City traffic and ocean waves
Babies crying and foghorns he
Loved it all and remembered
His father taking him to
An Arapaho Sun Dance where
He sat on the lap of Chief
Yellow Calf and played
A tom-tom made from
Buffalo skin and later he invented
Instruments such as
The oo and ooo-y-tsu and the
Hus and the trimba and he lived
The last 25 years of his singular life
With the Sommer family in
Westphalia not far from where
My wife grew up and he
Composed hundreds of compositions
In snaketime and slithery rhythm
And claimed I’m not gonna die
In 4/4 and he probably didn’t
Because he sure didn’t live
In 4/4 and I still hear his music
When I walk through the city and
Even Philip Glass said he learned
More from Moondog than
From Juilliard and I’m thinking
Of all this and Angela’s poor monkeys
Living their lives in cages until
They’re not needed any more and
Winchester who ran for his life
From the sky unnaturally exploding
And I wonder what cage I live in
And under what sky.
Poem copyright Michael Simms. From American Ash by Michael Simms (Ragged Sky 2020)
Email subscribers may listen to a selection of Moondog’s music by clicking on the title of this post.
Made me pause, think, ponder my cage.
Just had to say that.
Joe Cottonwood joecottonwood.com
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love, LOVE (and one bigger one for emphasis) this poem.
Thank you, Rose Mary! Your comments add so much to the dialogue here! And thank you especially for praising my poems.
What cage I live in…
wow. wonderful. esp since we had our first fireworks last night and my son’s wacky dog donnie darko, an alient who’s here in vacationland a while, went berserk, as dogs do. thank you
Thanks, Abby. Yes, Winchester was a great dog but a little neurotic: he hated sewer openings, fireworks and hot weather. But he loved running down the horse trails after my wife on her horse Kabuki. Our current dog Josie is sane but willful.
Moondog and Winston and Angela with her monkeys–braided into inevitability and constraint and refusal to acknowledge barriers.
Perfect summary, Kim!
Love this! Thank you for sharing! Carrie
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