BEEFHEART by Byron Coley


pappy with a khaki sweatband
old bowed potbellied barnyard
that only he noticed
the old fart was smart

these words were my calling card
used as defense against squares
throughout northern new jersey
in the early years of the 1970s

incanted while playing pinball
they sometimes piqued the interest
of a teenaged hipster chick
lollygagging ‘round the bowling alley

spoken in the classroom
or the dining hall or locker room
they were more a way of creating
a bubble of madness to protect me

from the goddamn normals
who dogged my every sullen step
trying to impress me with words
& gestures i could not understand

but the poetry of captain beefheart
at first even more than his music
got under my skin and layed eggs
that have continuously erupted

i would never be fool enough
to say i enjoyed all the captain’s bands
or records or tours, but most of them
were fine beyond belief

and provided a glimpse of something
so weird, yet apparently sustainable
that it was a balm to my soul and also
to the souls of the many other losers

who i would come to enjoy and respect
over the next decades of my life
years that would have been far bleaker
perhaps even devoid of splendor

without the model he provided.
so let this stand as a toast
to the ghost most holy-o
imperfectly human, yet umblemished

as a saint to the disaffected youth
who found sense & succor
in his vision of things as they might be
& perhaps even, as they truly were

goodnight, don

–byron coley