“Now we’re good and ripe,
Ripe for the picking
-The musical picking,
Ripe enough to be harvested”, I say.
“Ripe enough to be satisfied”, smiles Eric.
“Ripe enough to be consumed.”
In the cloudless Texas sky
The moon is another tall street lamp
And we’re ripe enough to be devoured whole
-To vanish before the sound.
The lead singer paces around the rosy antique stage
With bare arms in a silky black vest ,
A scally cap
And white winged sunglasses.
When the charged up gypsy dance rings out
He jumps his ripped toes a foot above the raising,
Bending his knees just enough
To keep his soles flat and together as they land.
Like his ragamuffin shoes the music bounces about
And stays level with tradition all at once.
The accordion player, in a transparent black dress
And high socks around her stocky legs,
Nurses the heavy weight of her black-child button box.
Moving her spider hand up and down the key bed,
She Burps the song baby,
Consoling the sharp firsts and fifths.
Her head reels around.
She sings high harmonies,
Chanting with the lead singer’s Irish tone, Indian trill,
Italian, Bulgarian and Haleem tongue.
The bassist, nodding in a red and blue flannel,
Shaggy brown hair and Aviators,
Toys with his u-bass.
The thick shiny rubber strings
Excite in wave form,
Undulate like little black snakes
Moving but not getting away.
The drummer melts into the sound,
Chopping long blocks of rhythm,
Channeling the bassist,
Charming the serpents, soft slingshots and live wires
Bouncing under his finger tips.
We leave with the violinist
Who removes her yellow 1950′s sunglasses for the last few numbers
Revealing her pained, solitary eyes
Which remain completely dissolved in the playing,
Totally composed, neutral and vacant
As she dices single notes into double rhythms,
Cuts up and down Spanish and Hungarian gypsy scales,
Her lanky puppeteered arms,
Knit her instrument
Like a praying mantis rubbing her hands.
She stares cooly at the ground.
Her eyes are stern and yet somehow sensitive and exposed
Stone and alive,
Staring away from the stares upon them,
Except for the subtlest responses to the crowd
– A quick blush, a blink of nerves, a flash smile
And then her lashes fall again,
The music takes her under.
Her eyes breathe in deeply,
And a quiet smile relaxes
Under her curly
I slide off of my church pew seat,
Walk out of the general store venue that is the Whip In,
Pass between counters of candy, elixirs, cigars,
Beer taps and grocery style coolers.
Outside, I pace through picnic tables
Lined neatly under Christmas lights on a stone and gravel patio.
Ramshackle 2×4′s boarded up around the outside form a fence.
Ribbed metal industrial siding, fit for agriculture, patch the walls
Which are grounded in giant aluminum feeders,
Cacti budding out the sides.
All I can think about though is the electricity in the violinist’s graveyard eyes,
The lonely burning moon
And drinking from it all like a pig squeezing into his trough.
-Whip In, Austin, TX, 3/26/13