The 29th offering from Ten Pages Press is now available: The Lives of Rock Stars by Kyle Hemmings.

Distortion and Reverb

Stu Mavis, former lead axman of The QuickCheck Convicts and My Dog’s Conversion. Supposedly played with such greats as Carlos Santana, Tony Williams, and John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Imprisoned seven years after wrongfully charged and arrested for the murder of his wife, Nikki Galante, a member of the Seattle slam poetry group: Suicide in Threes. Lived off dumpster diving for several years. Rediscovered and helped back to his feet by Black Flag’s Henry Rollins. Performs stand up comedy and acoustic blues guitar at the Hits-The-Spot club in Los Angeles. (B. Seattle, WA., 1947).

Toned down and three times his own age
at Woodstock, he tells the audience,
composed mostly of ex-gamblers and retired
hustlers, beer-bellied and stretch-marked,
how long ago a girl played him so dirty,
he became a useless guitar, his body,
a scale only playable with capo at the fifth
fret. One drunk whistled, yelled out,
“I used to be her pimp.” Another clapped.
The rest of us didn’t know what to make
of it. We sat there, edgy, our drinks
turning to ice and the ice turning
to stones.

He picked up a Gibson Les Paul and played
a dreamy melancholy piece titled, “Around
It Goes.” Somewhere around the second chorus,
he stopped. Again we were forced to listen
to the silence of stones, only this time,
at the bottom of our stomachs. Intimidating
with his blank face of heavy jowl and loose
flesh, he said, “I forgot the words.”
The same drunk who clapped before sang
the chorus. We all clapped for him
when it was over.

But I missed the old days when Stu and
his Convicts gave free concerts in Central
Park. I loved how he depended so much on chance,
those erotic loops of his harmonic feedback.
Sometimes, he would just fail. Sometimes,
his muse couldn’t hook up to the Marshall.
Or his distortion pedal would just send
the teeny boppers back to their hot cars,
to cuddle next to AM radio baritone-rich
D.J.s. But I preferred the old Stu.
He took chances. He wallowed on Echo.


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