The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Controversy

"The true measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but here he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

~~ Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)

"It is not he who gains the exact point in dispute who scores most in controversy, but he who has shown the most forbearance and the better judgement."

~~ Samuel Butler (1912)

"A Magnet Wrapped with Wire"

I want you, but only on the frets,
in the action, in the intervals
where Goldilocks would say the strings
are strung not too high, not too low,
just right to make things go with no
fret buzz. Steel or nylon, give me
light gauge. They’re easier to pluck.

I want you when the fingers pause
between the chords further up
the neck, when the last note is done
and the next has not been wrung.

Wear it slung below the belt line,
babe; push, then pull the tremolo bar,
switch pitch, waa-waa. There’s no
101 Essential Jazz Licks to master.
I back Pat Metheny; unearth the way
to chordal solos no one else knows.

Is the body well-made? Does it feel good?
Are my controls in a convenient place?
I wouldn’t try to fix a warped neck
on a ’57 Les Paul and neither should you.
Beware the long-haired dude hawking
his axe in the classifieds. He rips off rip-off
riffs. I trust my own ears. Kiss my alias.
Could I live with myself if I learned
that vintage Gibson was a late-‘80s
knock-off? I pick my picks with care.

I want the music, not the macho;
the gear, not the fear; the spotlight,
not the stage. I want the tour de force
and then I want you gone.

Stick your tongue on the pickup,
razzmatazzjazzman. Oily eel-ectrical
impulse. It would really be better
if you smoked, you know,
but I’ll munch raw fishy if I must.

© 2000 MJM

Featured in the Jan./Feb. 2001 edition of Friction Magazine, [V:3,N:1]


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