The Bottom

I’ve been to the bottom and back.

Sometimes I leave because they kick me out,
other times I get enough sense to leave on my own,
but mostly I can’t remember why or how I left.

Usually I have to take a cab home,
and get my car in the morning.

I’ve been to the bottom a lot
sometimes I spend days there.
I take smoke breaks outside the place
which is how I’ve met friends…good friends
though I never know when I’ll see them again.

I carved my name in the bar stool,
change has fallen out of my pockets and is still in the couch.

There is a lot of me there, at the bottom,
but I only leave pieces of me
I won’t need when it’s time
to go back up.

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Lightening Bugs

You can tell a true lover by the gifts they give.

When you only get them on occasions,
dutifully,
when millions of people probably got the same thing,

Love is coerced.

The true lover finds you gifts
randomly, accidentally;
the world is the gift shop
for a museum about you.

She brings them to you
in cupped hands,
like a child who has found a lightening bug.

The cuff-links you didn’t know you need,
the poet you love
who just wrote a new book,
a small notepad that fits in your pocket
because you love to write.

The occasion is always,
the reason is just because.

The gifts are the reflection of your presence
in your absence,
and you will never throw them away.

Rehab

When I heard he was in rehab,
all I could think was,
“what finally convinced him that was more than my pleas?”

He told me it was the night he finally cleaned his apartment
for the first time in six months
because a hooker was coming over.

And when she arrived at his place
she smoked crystal before she undressed
she looked around his place and said,
“honey, you need a maid.”

Past Tense

I speak of her in superlatives
that are tragically in the past tense.

When the wisdom you gain with age
illuminates only failure patterns you can’t break

When progress becomes finding flaws
that have no solutions

Faith becomes a suspicious option.

How ironic that the most sacred thing you are left with
is a spiritual investment that can only pay off when you’re dead,
and the superlatives about life
are always in the past tense.

Spencer Day: Maturing the Moment

I recently studied, or more accurately, immersed myself in the music of Spencer Day because I am working on a marketing strategy for him.

As I digested his music from a marketing perspective, what really moved me was what I was thinking as a song-writer, which gave me so much more admiration for him.

In my song, “The Al Franken Song“, I sing about having worshiped Al Franken for many years, then suddenly finding myself standing next to him at a urinal.

The song is about that precious moment that you waste – and the reflection you have afterwards about what you should have said if you were more in the moment.

“The perfect thing to say, it never comes till later
And then when it’s said, it’s only in your daydreams.”

Now hold that thought and let me get to Spencer Day.

I’ve written about him before, noting he made the “most beautiful music video” I have ever seen (kudos to Academy of Art University for its brilliant vision and production).

Recently Spencer went back into the studio to record his first album in years, a long, reverberating silence for an artist so prolific that he can noodle for 10 minutes and easily arrive at melodic and conceptual hooks so catchy they seem preconceived.

Since his last album, when he was 26, Spencer has matured in giant leaps. This is to be expected for men in their twenties, who are typically 12 months pregnant with spiritual worthiness.

Even in his first recordings, Spencer exuded wisdom rare in men below the age of 45. But Spencer’s “wisdom” is unique – it is not manifested in the form of reflective conclusions, answers, or insight gained through experience, but rather sincerity.

Spencer opened a much-anticipated week of performances at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco, wherein he demonstrated that indeed, sincerity is his most powerful quality.

On his delivery of his songs, The Chronicle wrote, “no one could resist their sincerity – his arrangements are dazzling and, most of all, his delivery is heartfelt and, often, heartbreaking.”

Compared to their gender counter-part, men are widely accepted as being late, if not improbable, maturity bloomers. The likelihood of a man in his twenties having anything spiritually noteworthy to say, nonetheless “heartbreaking”, is nearly incomprehensible.

Spencer’s wide-eyed exuberance and sensitivity make an even more powerful point about the relationship of wisdom to age. Spencer reminds us that wisdom is not something you wait for, or slowly earn over time. It is not the sum of what you silently, slowly learn over your life, but rather the sum of what you didn’t waste.

Maybe that sounds cliche.

But let me say it this way: Spencer makes long-term investments in the present. He magically creates a long arc in a moment, a mosaic in an instance, a historical observation for an event you just started experiencing.

He doesn’t make you want to wait for wisdom, he’s advanced it to you. And there is no looking back.