Sunday, March 8, 2020

the secret tantra II


she calls me to come for her

when a hook-up goes bad

I ride my crappy 3-speed bike

to meet her on the other side of town

she leaves her car

just wants to get away

to walk

to talk

so we foot the 1 1/2 miles to my apartment

gossiping, crying, mostly laughing

"this is better than sex" I tell her

I am not in any way thinking of sex

but of friendship, good buds, helping each other out

-- she rescued me from a night of boredom, after all

"this is NOT better than sex" she giggles

"yes it is. it's the secret tantra"


I don't know why I'm alive

and she is not

I've lived my life as stupidly as she

but we were both there for a moment

although she couldn't see it

she does now

"it's simple"

she whispers to me

from where she is

"stop fighting yourself.

enlightenment IS love”

no money down, for an unlimited time

absolutely no assembly required

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

this dark night

this dark of night
this bottomless cup of coffee
this black bean soup
this gravel of disinterested passion
inserting fat-heavy cream
or laughter over obscene jokes
into the space between
flashes of falling curtains
this dying with no despair
this warmth of comfort
in the panther's lair

I will enjoy this death
as I never did birth
with the moguls of soundless music
new gods of silent Earth

Thursday, February 13, 2020

surrendered at Starbuck's

lines of potentialities
roads of realities
brought me here
reading a book on Zen healing
bearing witness
to wired people
happy chatter
tablets and phones
books and connections

and I am surrendered
at Starbuck's
to your mishegas
your inverted Universe

despair within
mercy without
"Please, Lord..."
and the mirror turns round
and I am the mercy now
not knowing
just being

"Please Lord...
whatever's best"
let it be
let it rest
let it go
make it so

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Overwhelmed

Please check out my latest book at Amazon. The Overwhelmed, by Marc Mannheimer. It is the story of my first episode of depression, followed by my first remission, "A year with depression and what happened next: Memoir in poetry and prose".
I am unable to get the link to post here. However, if you search the title and author while on Amazon, it will pop up.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Grandmother Magma (companion piece to "the cold")

Answering an ad I’d found on a community bulletin board, my bass guitar case in one hand, I ride my beat-up 6-speed bike across campus and north of town to Cathe’s house.
I chat with her after our greeting in her foyer, her calligraphy materials spread out in the adjacent living room. Single Mom of two grade schoolers, she writes the songs, while she and Neicie, whom I am about to meet, sing. Perky, up-beat, she reminds me of a young Doris Day. I will listen tonight, she tells me, and can fill in as I see fit.
The rest of the band files in within the hour, and we congregate in the basement, full of equipment and a sound system. Neicie, looking matronly in a long print dress, wears medium length dreads wrapped in a paisley rag. Jeff, the guitar player is a tall, young man with long, greasy hair. He is schizophrenic, I think, judging from his unintelligible, evasive patter. He riffs endlessly on his Stratocaster before, during, and after songs, heavy distortion making his licks somewhat indiscernible.
Quigsley Schmooze, the drummer, a diminutive man in crisp suit and tie, arrives late from his work as a CPA, his real name, undisclosed to me in the month during which I played with Grandmother Magma.
They take me through 4 or 5 of their original numbers. On the first, Neicie sings operatically, with her deep, round voice, “I can’t stop loving everybody…..” At each end of that refrain, I play a little one-note bass lick to emphasize. Bump-ba-bump-ba-ba.
Cathe shows me “Hard Drugs”, with her Hammond organ intro, in full Doris Day mode, she sings the ditty-like, “Done a bit of weed, a line or two of cocaine. But I promise you Momma, I’ll never get insane…” The whole band comes in loud as she sings the chorus, “I won’t do no hard drugs…hard drugs… Momma…no hard drugs….”
For “Motherlode of Love”, Neicie recites her own intro, “….In this room…tonight…is a rarity, one of an endangered species……. – A woman in love!” Once we are full flare into the song, Cathe growls the chorus, “I’m tellin ya boy…you hit the motherlode of love….”
They cite The Roches as their singular influence, but I hear shades of blues, 60’s pop, and a little Neil Young. Of course, with Jeff soloing nonstop, it sounds like 80’s big hair metal jam night at the local bar. When he drives me home, I found out that, in the absence of his axe, he has to talk nonstop to drown out the silence. It is kind of scary, how little sense he makes, especially because he is so animated, gesturing with his hands while driving.
There are only 2 or 3 more rehearsals for me. Other interests and a heavy workload at school lead me to quit the band I have just joined. A sweet regret, like breaking up with my first love, dogs me down the years. My bass, donated to a music school, my guitar, mostly fallow in a corner of my apartment, call to me in some low ebb tide of time and desire.
Maybe I will return to playing more regularly, get out to play at least a couple of open mics here and there. But this wistfulness over long ago choices may never amount to much. Responsibilities engulf the creative soul, arthritis begins to creep in. That’s okay. There are other people who can and have filled these abandoned shoes in a much more satisfying way.
I find a lot of quirky folk-rock bands on the web and in the CD bins these days, preaching about loving everybody. Maybe not in those words, certainly not with deep, operatic tones.
I am just grateful to have once seen something so odd, so rare, and so endangered from the inside out.

Monday, February 3, 2020

the cold

short brother with a pork pie hat
bent, crone-like, over his upright piano
Monk's doppelganger
-- parallax --
in that tiny apartment in Ann Arbor
a chunky guitar player with grey beret
a slick jazz guitar slung close to his chest
a drummer I can barely remember
except that he is wild, all over the place
and me on electric bass

I have never played free jazz
lost, I pluck rapid, random notes
I think the whole thing is crazy

that summer I am on the Diag
a little art festival on the square
these guys appear, with an upright bass player
they have learned some standards
to which they add just a pinch of that crazy off kilter
they really have it together
and I, for the 2nd or 3rd time in my musical career
feel left out in the cold

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Bearing Witness

voices cracking
broken hearts choking
throats with tears caught
in rivers flowing to a cold ocean
of grief and incidental healing

for exterminated babies
mothers, elders...

distant family, curious strangers
grandchildren of Nazis
all visit Auschwitz
to consume their own sorrow
to greet their own humanity
calling out the names
of those murdered

pledges of peace
summoning tikkun olam
a Zen priest, rabbis
Christians, an imam

the grey light falls
like wretched snow
on this gathering

the ember of essential flame
original nature, emergent Love
carries joy even here
to nourish spirits trapped in ashes
clamoring for release