“Joseph ‘Slow Dog’ Hart, Knoxville blues singer (1897-1955). He spent most of his years as a street singer, with occasional gigs at house parties and bars. But in 1947 he had an unexpected success from a one-time recording session with Alan Lomax. It was a song of his own composition, ‘These Blues are Just Like Love.’ He scored a regional hit with his version, then it was recorded as a country-and-western number by Tex Ritter, and became a national smash. With the royalties, Hart, who had often lived on the streets where he played, was able to live out his last years in comfort, before his death from liver cancer. ‘These blues are just like love/They keep me thinking of/Your beauty and your body and your touch/These blues are just like love/They got me cooing like a dove/You’re long gone but I still want you oh so much.’ Pencil sketch, digital paint.
art and text ©2019 by Chris Floyd
“Dry martini with a heartbreak chaser. St. Valentine’s Day, 1954. Geno’s Place, Hoboken, New Jersey.” Pencil sketch.
art and text by ©2019 by Chris Floyd
“Johnny Marsanne, performance poet focused largely on ‘found poetry’ from various media. The poem below is from his most recent outing, at the ‘Alternative Currents’ poetry slam night at Grover’s Pub, Allentown, New Jersey.”
How quickly Greenland is disappearing
water expands as it warms
the planet warms
large chunks of glacial ice calve into the sea
vast plains of southwestern ice
the meltwater flowing to the ocean
a threshold has been reached
a point of amazing sensitivity
warming in the future
warming in the last century
we have passed, or soon will pass
(Found poem carved from the New York Times, 22 January 2018)
art and text by ©2019 by Chris Floyd
“‘The Additional Thing’ (below) was the final poem written by American poet John Turner Wiley before his death at age 66 in a 2007 car crash in the Blue Ridge Mountains.” Pencil sketch.
The Additional Thing
It takes 14 seconds for the soul to burn.
The process begins with a synaptic firing,
igniting a network of celestial complexity,
meshing, near instantaneously, with hormonal flows
and multiple streams of sensory data
from the interface of the nervous system
with the world beyond.
The world within, comprised of these operations,
and the additional thing that creates
continuity of self, resonance of memory,
and the conscious and unconscious weaving of context
from which meaning and reality are composed,
is in 14 seconds overcome by the fire
and dissolves in a heap of unconsecrated ash.
Art & text ©2019 by Chris Floyd
“Anthony Alexander, American poet and essayist (1925-1987). Like his friend and contemporary James Baldwin, Alexander spent many years in Paris, where his work was published in influential literary and political journals. His books include Not This One, Ricorso, and Homage to Juliette Greco, which included the poem below.” Pencil sketch.
It’s not divination
It’s not a weary traveller
opening up the Gideon
and finding magic salve
where the eyes first fall.
(Last time I tried this,
the universe answered with
the slaughter of the Amalekites,
man, woman, child and kine.)
No; it’s the vision of the lion
It’s the shadow waving goodbye.
It’s the fusion of many suns.
It’s the damage of imprecise images,
and what could be made of them.
It’s the chanteuse deplaning in the night,
to the leers of the malcontented.
It’s the burning ships under
centuries of stars,
breathing the air of reprise.
It’s the abatement of laws,
the nocturnal tirades,
like Petrograd in fevered flow.
It’s dancing on the water,
borne up by the reflections.
“‘Ain’t you cops got nothin’ better to do? Haulin’ us in for what? Smoochin’ under a streetlight?’ The arrest of ex-working girl Wanda and her n’er-do-well boyfriend Clovis sets the pair hurtling down a dark spiral that leads to robbery, violence, a confrontation with the mob — and a million-to-one shot at redemption. From the 1956 B-movie thriller, ‘Backstreet Frenzy.'” Pencil sketch.
When she was younger, she loved him for his body, and for her body. In a cloud of hormones lit by bolts of giddy neurons, in the freshness and chaos and newness of everything, everywhere, inside and out, she saw him glowing, gilded, in gauzed light. She saw depths of soul and boundless strengths, in him and in herself. When she took him inside herself, she knew a kind of melting and merging with the universe; in this most earthy act, she felt otherworldly. And if he made some unworthy remark afterward – something crass, prosaic, juvenile – she would hear but not register it, letting her comprehension glance away, to keep the myth intact. He didn’t always do this, of course; sometimes as she lay with her head on his chest, he’d struggle to find words to express the higher feelings coursing through him, something far beyond his eloquence, perhaps beyond the reach of any language. That these too were banalities, stitched together from threadbare clichés, didn’t matter to her. She translated his words into the unutterable flow of feeling around them in the moment, their spent bodies pressed together, his hand brushing back her hair.