Wednesday, September 25, 2013

POETRY BREAK #16: "Lamentation for Hank Williams" by DAVID MELTZER

Albie's Note: I first encountered this poem on an album I bought on vinyl back about '87 or so called POET/SONG, recorded for the Vanguard label  by San Francisco Beat Poet David Meltzer and his wife Tina in the Year of Our Lord 1968.  I thought it was a great score at the time because I actually knew who Meltzer was-- he had featured prominently in a book of interviews with poets already in my possession. I have always  liked the following poetic tribute to old Hank Sr,  and was hoping there would be a YouTube clip of the audio cut but there was not.  [You might be able to hear the audio clip at the poet's actual site by clicking HERE, but I make no guarantees.] 
In any case I still believe it's a truly great poem about a tragic, yet quintessentially American Figure.

"Lamentation for Hank Williams"

A Poem by David Meltzer
[Born February 17, 1937]

--"If I can't finish writing a song in ten minutes then it ain't worth the finishing," said Hank to a reporter.
A camera was busy taking pictures for LIFE Magazine.

--"I'll never get out of this world alive," wrote Hank in a song

sung for millions at The Grand Ole Opry

published by Acuff-Rose Sales Inc.

recorded by MGM Records

Flat-picking his D-28

backed up by The Drifting Cowboys

night after night and during the days

playing at picnics, rallies

supermarket gala openings

--"There's no dreams but bad ones,"  Hank told his wife Audrey

who told her lover

who told the doctor

who could not heal him...

Places no longer places

velocity of faces...

and he burned down, died at 29 of an overdose

kindly rocked to sleep in the back seat of his Cadillac

being driven to a concert

New Year's Day, 1953

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