Good Night, Carlo (poems from old notebooks, November 2003)

Carlo Spinazzola – Slow Burner

Hearing yesterday evening of the too-damn early death of Jay Smith, whom I barely knew but had seen play with his band Rock Ranger, took me right back to the side-swiped feeling I had after the also too-early death of another Cape Breton musician I knew only slightly better but felt a deep connection to because of a few wide-ranging conversations we’d had on our approaches to art and life. Below is the poem I wrote when I heard about Carlo Spinazzola’s death.

Good Night, Carlo

Where is Carlo Spinazzola,
Where is Carlo now?
Where’s the mournful dobro slide,
Where’s the mouth organ’s nails,
The hammer voice, the fingerpickin’
Building love from hate or hail?

Where is Carlo Spinazzola,
Where is Carlo now?
Where’s the songs like drying blood,
Where’s the blue-balled, blue-steel blues,
Where’s the gravel road lullabies
Quarried from his Cape Breton muse?

Oh Carlo, Carlo, Carlo
You tattooed your hands with song.
Your notes were knives, blades of beauty
Hammered out beyond smokegrey slagheaps
And tempered by cold rains of truth.

(I hear there’s arsenic in the soil,
And maybe mercury, too,
Back in Sydney where the steel mill
Squats in a silence
No politician’s voice can fill.)

Where is Carlo Spinazzola,
Where is Carlo now?
Where’s the rage, the smile, the sadness,
Where’s the hunger to console
Every note-sharp hope and memory
In every guitar-ridden soul?

Oh Carlo, Carlo, Carlo
You’ve finally healed your wound of song.
And now the nights are quiet
Where once you might come along
With fists or knuckled words
In furious preface to a song
Where the haggard hangnail moon
Might kiss you on thin lips
And run her tongue across
Your yellowed keyboard teeth
Until wild flowers bloomed blue from them
Into an improvised funeral wreath.

Goodnight Carlo, goodnight Carlo,
You’ve touched Lorca’s deepest song.
Goodnight Carlo, goodnight Carlo,
The sleepless night is finally gone.

Goodnight Carlo, goodnight Carlo
Goodnight Carlo, goodnight Carlo….

Two songs, Reefer hand, and Train, by Carlo.

Carlo Spinazzola.

Hank Williams – I Can’t Escape From You

About John MacKenzie

I'll mumble for ya. Poetry, plus most things quantifiable: science, neuroscience, memory, epistemology, baseball. And so on.
This entry was posted in Carlo Spinazzola, Death, Funeral, Hank Williams, Lorca, Memory, Poem tweets, Poems from old notebooks, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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