Friday, October 24, 2014

Jerry (for JG)

I saw your hair on fire
September 1987 in Philadelphia
At least it looked that way to me.
Long, white and flowing under blinding yellow lights
Northbound train
River of air, liquid melody

I’m turning my face toward the sun
Covered in dew at the first light of morning
The circle of days
The circle of sound
Sunlight turning

The sun wraps around my face today
And burns me close to your heartbeat
I still hear that
I pray to always feel that.

-Kevin Slick

Lingering October

Lingering October
The leaves glow warm yellow
Orange, red and purple.
The brisk morning air
and damp moldy smell of  fallen leaves
disappearing into the earth is sweet
because it mixes with leather and horsehide.
We live in a balanced universe
A perfect world
Because there is baseball in October.
We have a whole year to think about this world
This universe,
To solve the great mysteries
But in October
As autumn firmly plants itself in the backyard
There is still summer
In perfect balance
There is baseball in October.

-Kevin Slick

Meg Asked Me

Meg asked me to help her make a crown out of paper.
Someone said
“Oh, are you a princess?”
“No” she said
“I just like to wear crowns"

-Kevin Slick 

Radio Nights

The world arrived through a two-inch speaker.  A small crack, a doorway opening to a mysterious world outside, somewhere outside, somewhere there were people talking to me.  The whisper voices of static in tempo with the crickets outside my window on a summer night.  This was my bridge, a secret passage to another world at night.  I was no longer in a small town in a small room.  I was riding somewhere on those sounds, crackling, distant and magic.  Somehow the distance made the magic more powerful.  Those sounds were traveling through the air, into space, forever, magic.  And I could hold it all in my hand.
I grew up following magic voices, always from somewhere.  Somewhere else.
Filtered through space, cradled by train whistles, highways humming and night birds calling.  Magic voices pulled down to earth with each one carrying the tantalizing map to somewhere, somewhere beyond here. 

-Kevin Slick

Searching for Me

Searching for me, every time you touch
I feel the search and wonder of your eyes
The heartbeat and  waiting
Some kind of ocean
Tides rising
Sweeping undertow moving
We are drawn out to sea.

-Kevin Slick

This is Silence

This is silence
Waiting for the sign of life
Looking for green air gathering outside my window
This morning
I should not be awakened.
Not, the cool wind that rumbles in the pines
But slides in error over hoods of cars.
Yet, I would be as the tire
Leaning against my neighbor’s garage
Secure, without motion.

-Kevin Slick

Your Body is so New

Your body is so new
Where did you find it?
And how did you find this place?

I can taste your words and hear the sounds
Of time opening the window to the day.

Bold shadows stretch you across the room
Sparrow light and wing movement
Dark flash on grey cloud

Awaken and breathe
Alive on fire
Caress the morning
Air that glides around you as we walking
Crisp air tightly wrapped ‘round trees
Crisp air still hears you
Seeing sunlight for the first time

Air still bringing rain
And afternoons still remaining locked in time
And to see
To feel air that is

-Kevin Slick

Awaken and Breathe

Your body is so new,
Where did you find it?

How did you find this place?
I can taste your words and hear your sounds
Opening the window to the day

Bold shadows stretch you across the room
Sparrow light and wing movement
Dark flash and grey cloud that holds you

Awaken and breathe
Alive on fire
Caress the morning
Air that glides around you as we, walking
Crisp air tightly wrapped ‘round trees
Crisp air still hears you
Seeing sunlight for the first time

Air still bringing rain
And afternoons still remaining in time
To see
To feel
That is
As your bold shadow
Stretched across the room
And new body
Uncharted territory
Virgin coastline
Where I stand,
A pioneer before exploration.

-Kevin Slick

The Word

When the word
has been defined completely
charted, catalogued, wasted,
used to describe such mundane fare as sunsets,
mountains and oceans, so that it has become meaningless
still you will confound the cartographers of language
with your soul,
still you will surprise those who expound
on the recognized meanings of words
simply by turning to face them.
the scientists of language will
drop their books, their defenses and expectations
at the glimmer of your eyes

-Kevin Slick


Rolling large
On grey pavement

My own shadow
Stretching beyond
My bicycle

With each
Circle move
Of the pedals
I am riding through orange
Allowing myself to be covered with
Not long for this world

While dust settles on the fields
Where I just was
And always may be
Dust and sunlight settling
Over faint shadows
With their eye
Ever on the ball

And shadows
Rolling large
Carry something
Like dreaming
Like wishing
Like memory
To where I am
Where I may ever be
Keeping my eye on the ball
Following through
Following the dust and sunlight
Rolling on.
                                                - Kevin Slick

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Song for My Mother

My mother sang
My mother sang easy for herself
In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden
My mother sang.
Hymns, Blues, Jazz, Swing, Rock and Roll and Folk
All these my mother sang easy for herself.
“How Great Thou Art”
“Mrs. Robinson”
“Side by Side”
“Goodnight Irene”
this might be her idea of an afternoon concert
it didn’t matter if she knew all the words
one line was all she needed when my mother sang
easy for herself.
in the morning
midnight hour my mother sang.
Words and the sounds of words
Rolling, tumbling, falling
Like a Pennsylvania mountain stream.
Words and the sounds of words
My mother sang.
Melodies like leaves on the wind
That whistled down our long valley.
Songs just came to her
When she wasn’t even thinking of singing
In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden
That how it was when My mother sang easy.

My mother sang serious in the church choir
Where she was the director
Who tried to direct me.
There is a proper way to sing she said
And she tried to teach me
The kind of singing
Where one note is right and another one is wrong.
This kind of singing where you are a tenor
And you sing with the tenors in the tenor section
And you not a baritone or bass
And don’t even think about soprano.
That’s what she said.
Songs that started and stopped on schedule.
That’s what she said
My mother when she sang serious.

When My mother sang serious
She laid those songs down end to end
On a narrow groove
A straight line highway to the horizon.

When My mother sang easy on her own
She wove a quilt full of songs
That spread out in all directions.
“What a Friend We Have In Jesus”
“I want to hold your Hand”
“Pennsylvania 6-5000”
and “Rock Island Line”

When My mother, the choir director
Tried to teach me proper singing
She tried to teach me with what she said
With clearly outlined parts
To be learned and reproduced.

When My mother sang easy on her own
She taught me with how she lived
And she covered me with a feeling of sound.
Sounds that covered me
The way the ocean wraps around you
When you dive into an oncoming wave.

When she tried to teach me with what she said
It was only words
And they blew away
Like seeds scattered on Chimney Rock
On the side of the Alleghenies.

I learned from how she lived
I learned from the sounds,
The songs that filled our house.
I absorbed those sounds into my skin
And they stayed.
When My mother sang easy on her own
That’s when I learned.
Not from what she said
But from how she lived.
And my life is filled with songs
That come to visit like old friends
Who drop by in the afternoon
And then decide to stay the night.
Songs and sounds and feelings
That return like waves on the ocean.
Waves that whisper
Waves that shout
Like My mother when she sang
When she taught me with her life
Singing easy
Like My mother singing easy
Like My mother singing
My mother singing
Only now
Her voice in mine
Endless like the ocean.

– Kevin Slick © 1999

Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell

She’s walking a different line today
Speaks light a heartbeat
Out on the morning, the light she begins

What could be better than heaven and hell
Together at last?

You see her in the doorway
After that long weekend away

She’s walking a different line today
Speaks like a heartbeat
The edge of her voice
Cutting gentle

And what could be better than heaven and hell
Together at last?

Against the lines she speaks like a heart beating
Out the sound
The movement
The questions
How far the mountains rising?
How far the dark tonight?

-Kevin Slick

Lightning Child

Once there was a lightning child
And he danced across the waves of the sky
And she walked across the valleys of the clouds
Once there was  a lightning child
And he wondered after midnight
Where no one would follow
And she sent her song across the open skies
And she sent her voice across the open skies
Oh lightning child

Lightning child traveling
Walking on the sky
Lightning child born
Speaking with the sky

Lightning child went dreaming one day
To learn the sound of the sky
And she wrote in words of sounds,
Light and colors of the day

Lightning child
Scatter the shadows
Speak with the sunlight
Lightning child

-Kevin Slick



Searching for me, every time you touch me
I feel the search and wonder of your eyes
And heartbeat pause and the waiting
Some kind of ocean
Tides rising
Sweeping undertow moving
And we are drawn out to sea
With one touch.

-Kevin Slick

Air Tight Sky

Air tight sky
With sun not seen through clouds
Covering trees
On the higher branches above
The fences around this yard

Autumn, well closer
Yet falling in the sky
Tightly packed air, yellow with leaves
Through fences
While trees ache with fingers
In iced edges
Fully realized not
Yet understood
Why they break the fences
In a bid for freedom

-Kevin Slick

October 2 Tuesday

October 2 Tuesday
Raining in New Jersey Sunday

Slight afternoon
This too
Walking on or about roads
And sidewalks
Rusted like pavement
Caught in a moment of green against grey
This too
My footsteps sound like rain
On this city
This too
You should grasp this city
She is much more than those living souls
And reckless dreamers
She is something like steel, something like concrete
This too
And buildings that echo
This too
And we go on folding our hands together
That way
You know, when people fear
When you hear quiet
And when you dream this too.

-Kevin Slick

Window Song

She walks to the window
In case of decisions
She will remain alone

Out the window

There are cities
Uneven with echoes
Made by themselves

Beyond the window
You will hear cities singing

Cities, concrete enough to stand by themselves

Cities are singing
And we have not been asked to join in

-Kevin Slick

Thinking About The Air

Thinking about the air around me
Waiting for the air to begin, holding the air between my hands
A moment longer
Under a tree filled with autumn
Branches reach the sky, pushing exhilaration
almost trembling
in this moment
the earth ripples across the horizon
tucked neatly into the ground
who would think to disturb her now
resting, a motion slow
allowing my legs to crease the ground,
accepting my arms into the weave of branches
tender limbs, sparkling shades of weeds and grass
grown tight with age
thinking about the air
until new moon calls

-Kevin Slick

September Journal 2001 New York City

September Journal 
By Kevin Slick
© 2001

There are so many pictures frozen in my mind.  A family album that doesn’t have to be opened to be re-lived.  There was that perfect autumn blue sky, just so blue, so blue that it almost hurt to look at, that perfect blue with a jagged grey cloud ripping across the middle of the sky, like a gash in the atmosphere, a hole in the universe.  There was the man covered in dust standing next to me at the 14th street subway station as we waited to see if any trains could still run over to Brooklyn.  And there in an abandoned lot off Atlantic Avenue, a homemade American flag nailed to a piece of wood in the afternoon sunlight welcoming me home.  But the image that always comes back first is the light coming through the window of my classroom after everyone had left as it gently floated through the window onto the newspaper that was lying on my desk, filled with words that no one would remember.  And I stood there to try to understand that moment when all those words would be re-written and this day would have forever a new meaning.  I stood there trying to understand, but couldn’t.  I could only live in the moment, and so walked outside and headed south toward that ragged tear in the sky.

I bought a newspaper on the way to work this morning.
I thought I would talk with my class, fourth grade at P.S. 116, about the primary election for mayor.  After all there would be people in and out of school all day since it was the polling place for the neighborhood around 33rd and 3rd.
But we didn’t talk about the election.
The voters left early, if they came at all.
By three o’ clock in the afternoon I was alone in my room.
Sunlight was coming in the window at an autumn afternoon slant
Dragging long shadows across the front page of the newspaper,
Still lying where I left it on my desk.
No one will ever remember the stories from the front page of today’s paper.
No one will ever think of this day and talk about the election
Or any one of ten other stories that were worthy of the front page of the
New York Times on September 11th, 2001.

I walked downtown
Smoke arched across the sky
People’s faces; grim, vacant, worried.
We talked to each other like people at a funeral;
“How are you doing?”
“Are you okay?”
The streets, a constant stream of fire trucks, ambulances, police cars.
Police on every corner
Crowds gathering at the hospital a few blocks away.
And the people’s faces, unbelieving
I can’t believe it.
(how many times have I said “ I can’t believe it” when I could have said “that’s surprising” or “ I didn’t expect that”)
Now, I really can’t believe it.
Tell me again,
They’re gone?
Those two buildings are gone?
The two buildings I see from my window every day?
The two buildings I rode past this morning on the train?
I saw an old man walk out onto 3rd Avenue and stop traffic because some people were walking up to a hospital helping several others who appeared to be bleeding or injured in some way.  It was perfectly normal, and all the cars stopped. 
He said that it was what he had to do.  That’s what we were doing there that day – “what we had to do”
When I returned home to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the man who owned the middle- eastern restaurant on the first floor called me “brother” and offered food.  I joined others from the street and we ate in silence together.
Later I heard someone say “There are no words” 

The next day.
Everyone is in motion today.
On Fulton street the sun is shining and the streets are full of people.
Loud dance music rips out of a store selling stereos.
A man is begging on the corner, shaking a cup full of coins endlessly. 
Now he switches hands and adjusts the volume on his Walkman.  He’s looking all around and no one is looking at him.  He looks around some more and drives his electric wheelchair away.
The other people on the corner just keep talking and ignoring the place where he was.
It seems like this city is too big to slow down, even with the heart torn out, the body is still going through the motions.  If you chose to ignore media and not look across the river you could pretend nothing had happened.
I want to believe that nothing has happened.
This morning I work up and prayed for it to have all been a dream.

The sky is still so blue today
Only that one line of grey
Grey smoke to the south that lays across the sky.
It looks like rain clouds,
Long, low rain clouds
But it’s too sunny for rain.

There’s a cool breeze
Like the best ocean breeze on the last day of summer
It’s such a beautiful day
Such a beautiful day.

Is it nature, or God
Trying to say that life goes on?
Is this a day to help us heal?
Is this a day that covers the terrible with beauty?

This beautiful sky lies across our lives
We are held together under this sky
Held together by each other
By our heartbeats
Our footsteps
Beating out a rhythm together.

I heard a woman say
That the most important thing in the world
Was the smell of her daughter’s hair when she hugged her.

I can see the sun as a fuzzy white ball in the grey, cloudy sky.

In Union Square there are huge crowds
Gathering around signs, candles and pictures
Offerings, gifts people have left.

Behind me, a group is singing “America The Beautiful” some of the crowd, however are only singing the first line of the melody, having forgotten the rest I guess. 
The result is an edgy harmony as one group repeats the same line over and over.

People have written poems
And the word “Love” appears over and over again.
I’ve been writing what I see and feel, waiting for words to have some meaning again, but I can’t find the meaning. 
I’m living on faith that the meanings will be revealed sometime, maybe someday. 
But I see that I’m in the midst of a living poem, the voices, the pictures, the streets themselves, the city itself is singing.
Whitman was right, this is America singing, the varied carols I hear with melodies hard to understand and words that tear and strain to rhyme but still singing.  The music is un-planned, improvised, ragged and beautiful.
Why are we all here, right now, at this moment?  How did we get here?
Maybe we’re all here just to be next to other humans

Every sound is muffled, like a church
This seems like a sacred site.
The stained glass windows have been replaced with
All those pictures
Thousands of pictures.
This whole city has become a photo album
A large family photo album.
Walking down the streets, I feel like I’m leafing through memories
Memories shared with strangers.
Back yard picnics
I’m looking for my family here
Looking for faces I recognize
And I realize I know every one of them.

I can’t sing
I want to sing, but I can’t find a song to sing
Not one song
Not one song I can sing
But all songs
I have no song to sing
Unless it’s all songs

I try to speak but I have no voice
Only all voices

I’m calling on God
But I think God will only answer
To all his names
To all her names
Spoken as one.

One sky
One blue, heavenly sky
Covers us like a prayer shawl.
I want to wrap myself in the sky.

I wrap myself in these pictures
These words
The quilt of life
Of lives sewn together on the streets by broken hearts seeking peace.

I stand with others, with everyone
In search of release.
My feelings pour out on the names
On the faces
And I think all my feelings have gone out of me
But new feelings appear
Like waves on the ocean, endless
The best I can do is open my heart to the emotions
The way a rose opens it’s petals to drink the dew
And I release those feelings
Like the rose gives up it’s petals.

For The Flying of Kites on October Days

The air is tight
like glass wrapping the earth
sunlight sparkles
shattering on impact
crystal leaves reflect a million colors
clear and brilliant
limbs release their handful of jewels
flaming diamonds
scattered and throwing a million strands of light across the land
The sky begins to open
as trees spread bare branches
This is the season of the sky
the rich earth dissolves into air
we circle the earth with bare branches
open the sky and follow the wind for a moment
like a brief dream before sleep
for a quiet afternoon
where we ride the wind into the day sky
balancing between seasons
before the sky swallows the last days of autumn
for now,
and the flying of kites on October days

-Kevin Slick

Still October

Still October

It’s still October and finally cold
the wet cold that pours itself into your bones.  The cold that chases under blankets, into sweaters and next to fireplaces.  In this grey rain the leaves outside seem all the more brilliant for the flat, dull background.
Everywhere we are covered by a deep rich, rotting blanket.  The earth has opened herself to harvest and slowly wraps around the decaying remains.  Corn husk flags stubbornly resist the wind for weeks.  Brilliant orange stars holding that color long after landing.  And all eventually accepting
the rhythm
the breathing
of earth.
Brilliant sunlight days, crisp and cold.
The breathing
hot, stretching, shifting, slowly returning the colors to earth
where they will sleep.
In the sleeping winter
strong trees
standing in winter
dream of color

-Kevin Slick

In This Moment

In this moment I
Some part of me
some part of you touches
my heart
becomes sky,
vast horizon
Some part of you flows
Some part of me
Stones in the river
Over ages grow smooth
I am softened
in a moment

holding you

-Kevin Slick

Autumn 1

Autumn 1

Slow and suddenly autumn
eternal and quick as lightning
slow aging wood releases color
sparkling light of aspens
earth accepting the final warm caresses of it’s lover
yellow warm soft light
soon that turns
cold with brittle grey fingers
as winter will hold the ground

-Kevin Slick