The Sacramento Poetry Center forged music and words together in its word foundry on Mon. Sept. 22. The principal smithies were Robert Grossklaus who started off the evening by reading
Poetry across the sky,
rippling softly over cement,
their way east wind.
Afternoons melt into
hot breath, slight,
like the movement of water uphill,
more than a reflection.
waiting for the music . . .
Granite, rivers of milk
snaking their way between buildings
of imagination and institution,
towering above mortality,
sun caking concrete
against thought, erecting walls
of spoiled earthways—
eat these meanings
and regurgitate them
into the mouths of children.
The words eschewing from still lips, breathless;
foreboding softly somewhat fierce,
focused on the becoming.
You become the target.
This is not a lament, it’s a battlecry!
Our hearts beat their way through bony prisons,
bursting outward into the dead;
the chains our restitution
for moments unbridled.
We dance toward the sun across the blood of others.
In this dream we are awake and we are unafraid.
Persist through glaciers of encumbered thought,
chip away or crash through,
the cracks and fissures are hope.
through weariness, through stagnant waters,
through the myriad of sorrow, through
the black sunsets of cold habituation—
create the catharsis, a sacred chalice filled
the blood and spit of those who’ve failed,
fallen in your wake,
swallowed up by mirrors and ephemera.
Sing those songs you never thought you could!
Grossklaus was joined by Litany [Chéne Watson on percussion, Bob Wilson on guitars (and King Crimson t-shirt) and Miles Miniaci on keyboards and vocals]. While overseen by the paintings of Dan Samborski, Litany started into their set which included “Inamorata” and “Fever Ride” (inspired by Moroccan tune). Then they played an oldie but a goodie “A Million Years” when I noticed a curious patch of tar-like residue on bob Wilson’s shoes that vaguely resembled the outline of Greenland. Next up for Litany was Mirangula which featured Chéne Watson on hammer dulcimer, improvising his way through the bridge and a groovy little quena voicing on Miniaci’s Roland. They played “One Thing” which was heavy on the keyboards and in my mind had a little bit of a Ray Manzarek feel with Miniaci’s Roland synthesizer doing double time as a Farfisa. The surfing sound dominated the “Love Hypocrites,” which featured a kind of Surfaris meets Duane Eddy sound from The guitar. They finished off with a cover of Patti Smith’s “Shooting Shark.”
Then Grossklaus joined Litany for a set of poems conjoined to Litany’s atmospherics. I guess this is what they meant by art rock, folks. It was gloriously out of style, but what can I say, I liked it. Heady stuff in an age where it simply does not pay to use one’s head or even pay homage to using it. The ensemble played “When the Sun Rose Over,” “Stranger in the Photograph,” and “The Book of Dreams" (which featured Watson on hammer dulcimer again). “Phantom Limb” reminded me a little of “Jail” by Was (Not Was) with its edgy speaker wondering who had stolen his limb. Finally, there was “Limerince” (posited by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, an involuntary cognitive and emotional state in which a person feels an intense romantic desire for another person. The concept is an attempt at a scientific study into the nature of romantic love.) with Miniaci cooking up a little bit of an Irish jig in the background. In the piece Grossklaus offered up the line “The feeling that nothing gets better than this, and you wouldn’t want it to.” This seemed to capture the moment fairly well.
The open mic was inhabited by a fairly lengthy list of a few people who are beginning to form a fairly regular list of readers: David Iribarne, David Purdy, Adam Burrell, Jeff Norman, B. L. Kennedy, Lawrence D., and Frank Graham.
Litany came back for one last tune at the end while (what the hell) they still had everything set up. They did “The Final Reel” as an encore. Then everyone busily set about to tear down the set and look for the half-drunk beers that B.L. Kennedy had mysteriously strewn throughout the compound. Let’s call it the Fall Equinox version of an Easter Egg hunt.