POEM: I Got Me Babe

I Got Me Babe

Curled up before the fake fire,
wrapped up in a book about
the Great War
(wars not make one great),
I am myself.

I’ve spent minutes & hours & days
& years peering intently into
the 6 or so inches inside my skull.
It’s all in there, or so I’ve read.
Some days I think I can see me.

I see my face in my mind’s eye
& it looks just like me.
I run my fingertips over
the denim of my jeans
& feel like I’m supposed to feel.

Other days I sit at a metal desk
with fake wood on top,
entering data & answering phones
& helping things get from here to there.
Well, I say “I” but it isn’t me.

Whale Dave says you can be yourself
at the 7-Eleven. Or at the Pentagon.
Or in a shed on the Cape. Hmmm. Maybe.
I haven’t tried any of those spots yet,
but I’ve tried 40 or so different towns,

an equal number of jobs, and it’s only
occasionally, just every once in a while,
that I’m myself. Like on a Sunday afternoon
or a Wednesday morning.
Times like that.

My radio plays “I Got You Babe”
one morning, like the guy in the movie.
I reach over to shut it off but I can’t find it.
I open my eyes to see my bed
floating through space.

/ / /

Jason Crane
25 November 2019
State College PA

POEM: chorus


does a dog have Buddha nature?
is a cat a servant of God?
what is the light that shines
    through the universe?
where does the wind go
    as it blows from the sun?
deep in the farthest darkness
    a single light blinks
calling out I AM HERE
go far enough back & we were
    all one family
there beside a river in Botswana
go farther still & everything
    you’ve ever seen or heard or
    felt on the tip of your tongue
was a single point
    in an ocean of mystery
waiting to burst forth

hear the choir sing

/ / /

Jason Crane
9 November 2019
State College PA

POEM: ex post facto

ex post facto

it took him years
to understand what happened

how she was always ready
to withdraw her love from her ungrateful child

is this the thanks I get?
is this how you repay me?

he hadn’t realized
everything was a transaction

another item in a ledger
carefully tallied, always in the red

how owed before his first breath
she was there, waiting to collect

/ / /

Jason Crane
7 November 2019
State College PA

POEM: Moby-Dick in the break room

Moby-Dick in the break room

because otherwise it’s a round Formica table
& the clicks and beeps from the alarm system
& the vending machines
a slowly shrinking horizon of possibility
& the monstrous white shape of the future

I read to remember myself
(a boss walks by, says, “Call me Ishmael”)
Melville was in his late 20s & early 30s
as he was writing his Great(est?) American Novel
luckily Alan Rickman was 42 when he played Hans Gruber
so there’s hope for me yet


Jason Crane
4 November 2019
State College PA

[Meeting Metal, Part 1] Black Sabbath — Sabotage

My pal and fellow poet Dave Bonta noticed some of the music I’ve been listening to and referred to it as “metal-adjacent.” I asked him to send along some recommendations for metal albums I should listen to and he did. You can see the whole playlist here. Each of these reviews is based on me listening to the album once with a notebook open on my lap, knowing nothing about it beforehand. At the bottom I’ll add any further thoughts generated by reading the album’s Wikipedia entry. You can find all the posts in this series here.

Black Sabbath — Sabotage

This wasn’t at all what I expected. This is one of just two bands on Dave’s list I’d heard before, though I haven’t heard much Sabbath at all and I’d never heard this record before. It’s much closer to hard rock and even prog rock than I thought it would be, and pretty far from my idea of what metal sounds like. (Remember throughout this series that I know next to nothing about metal.) For me, the final 20 seconds of the album, on which someone is playing an out-of-tune saloon piano while someone sings “blow on a jug” (I think) sums it all up: This record is funny, and I can’t tell when it intends to be and when it’s just the tropes of the world of metal that make me hear humor when none exists. I liked the record, and would definitely return to it.

Song Notes (written while listening)

  • “Hole In The Sky”
    • Sounds like mid-70s King Crimson at the beginning
    • Love the guitar (guitars?)
    • “I’m living free because the rent is never due”
  • “Don’t Start (Too Late)”
    • Whoa! what the hell happened?
    • I like this as a surprise palate cleanser
  • “Symptom of the Universe”
    • I mean, this is about a foot and a half over from prog rock
    • Very cool instrumental sections
    • Don’t know what year this album came out but I think it’s late 60s or early 70s? If so, you can really hear how Sabbath paved the way for what came after
    • GREAT song!
  • “Megalomania”
    • Led Zep vibes
    • this song, like this record, feels more hard rock/prog rock than my conception of metal
  • “The Thrill of it All”
    • “Won’t you help me, Mr. Jesus?”
    • Sabbath’s “Band On The Run”
  • “Supertzar”
    • Wait, when did the ELO album start?
    • Jethro Tull vibes, too
  • “Am I Going Insane?”
    • Sounds like the single for this album. I dig it.
  • “The Writ”
    • Love the low opening
    • Relentless
    • Oh wow this took a turn midway through
    • Last 20 seconds says it all — funny!

Wikipedia Post-Mortem (entry)
Sixth album, came out in 1975. Recorded with lawyers literally in the studio (!) because of legal trouble with management. Exact timing is disputed, but Sabbath did jam with Zeppelin at one point. Lyrics of “The Writ” were penned by Ozzy as a direct attack on their former manager. Wow, just one guitarist. I do know of Tony Iommi, but didn’t realize it was just him. Monstrous.

POEM: Walnut Spring

Walnut Spring

it’s a black gravel path
      through a lovely wood
why does it remind me
      of an oil spill?
could be the sound of a plane
      overhead or
the distant artificial surf
      of the interstate
even what we try to protect
      we end up destroying
we can’t preserve an island of forest
      in an ocean of asphalt
perhaps what’s needed at first
      is more destruction
fewer cute wooden bridges over
      barely flowing streams
more horizons lit by the fires
      of burning cities
one acre of wetland can store
      a million gallons of water
how many bottles is that?


Jason Crane
23 October 2019
State College PA