The Basement Tapes


The Basement Tapes

I’m in the basement with Dylan

creaking out of the stereo

wizened voice

tossing fantastic harsh visions

illusions half mumbled pictures

spin tumble rattle the thin speaker membrane

scratch at the back of the throat

the back of the brain  left side right side

pushing to a realization

that if he can

anyone can

the voice so plain

the words so jumbled

is there a meaning


no pretty harmony to hook on to

no lulling chorus to toe-tap

no bridge from one flash to the next

just the tumble rumble of words images

sights sounds to long for

to take me out of this basement

into a fluid flexing world

of Bobby notes croak under missing moons

on angry street corners

refusing to smile for the pretty girls

refusing to bend for the witty men

giving each some quick name

master of whores blaster of boots

so far from the safety of this room

mild haired boys stroking guitars

black cat girls swinging hips

inhaling looking me in the eye

is there something behind

the gates of their smoke screen

not caught in their net stocking

they finding me baited for a different catch


the needle hisses from one cut to the next

track after track a verbal attack

howling about a life I’ll never live

farms motor cycles

ironed hair millionaires

giving chase to to rumors of more

the highway up the stairs

past Ed Sullivan TV

into the summer street

trapped and tickled

with no way of getting from here to there

no hitch hiking get away

only the chance to get these early hints

of Ginsburg Thomas Whitman

filtered by this cranky harmonica player

caught like me

outside the gates of Eden


This month I am looking at some of the pieces I may be reading as part of Born To Be Blown. Bob Dylan is a suitable follow up to my Robert Johnson post last week. Early in his career he made use of those tradition blues forms then when he plugged in his career went crazy. ‘Outside’ was written for a tribute night – this one for, of all people, Bob Dylan.

I can’t say I was big fan but his language certainly inspired me – I later discovered what an influence Walt Whitman, Alan Ginsberg (two queers) & Dylan Thomas had been on Bob – but as a teen I found his lyrics as stunning flow of images and emotions.


He seemed so anti everything – later I find out that he was, thanks partly to Blowin’ In The Wind, a multi-millionaire. The rich rebel. I also remember the single of Like a Rolling Stone – such a long long song with the even longer Gates Of Eden on the flip side.


I’d listen to him in my basement – drinking with friends and soaking up the coffee house vibe & longing for what he represented. So this piece is pretty true my actual memories. No attempt has been made to capture his writing style but more to capture how I felt as a gay teen outside the gates of heterosexual Eden. No one I knew ever thought he was a good singer but man, even if you don’t know what he says, he could write.


June 9-10 – attending – Capturing Fire – Washington DC

fence02 vert

now that’s a gate

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


red head anyone

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