Band of gypsies

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Eu amava o amor, essa lepra.
I was in love with love, that leprosy.
–Eugénio de Andrade, Matéria Solar

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Thanks to your lightfoot genius
no Eighth Route Army
kept its lines more fluid,
traveled with less baggage,
so nibbled the advantage.
Even with your small bad heart
you made a dance of departures.

–Stanley Kunitz, “After the Last Dynasty”

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The gypsy musician tells the interviewer that his favorite album growing up was by Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsies. He had a cassette copy that he listened to thousands of times. He liked it because it was so different from the traditional music his father played. He didn’t speak a word of English then, and had no idea what the title meant.


I don’t have a car. Lately, in my dreams, I have been running across train stations in the oddest places, all lit up and waiting for the railroads to come back. Some people are already buying tickets at the window. Homeless people are already moving in.


There were lilacs in the above photo, but I cropped them out. If you can’t smell them, what good does it do to see their image? The white in the background is the side of my parents’ house. If it weren’t out-of-focus, you’d see clapboard: about six inches wide near the ground, tapering to less than five near the roof – a trompe l’oiel effect designed to make the house look taller than it is.


You are all homeless – says the one god – with me. The thin whisper of a voice is lost in traffic.

10 Replies to “Band of gypsies”

  1. This is really beautiful, Dave. I thought of many things to write here. I even wanted to share an epiphany I had tonight about no longer being afraid to fly, because that realization seemed to fit with pulse of life and death here. But then, I realized that I’m not sure that theme is here or in my own psyche. So, instead I’ll just admire your words and the strength of the passion behind them.

  2. Thanks, RD. I’d like to hear about that epiphany!

    Commenters at Via Neg should always feel free to go off on tangents. Sometimes those make the best comments. And it’s always flattering to think my words might’ve played a role in sparking original thoughts from someone else.

  3. I like that first photo very much. I looked at it a long time, and several times, and am still not sure what it is. Oh, I *know* what it is. What I mean is, it *could* be any number of things. And that possibility delights me.

  4. Thanks for the comment. I’ve never been happier to have missed the obvious shot! Sometimes being late is right on time. Or something like that.

  5. Beautiful – words and pictures. Your words absolutely don’t need pictures (or rather, they paint their own) but I ver7 much like what you’re doing with photos lately

    And, like MB, I’m not sure where else to say, um thanks for including me in the smorgasbord – I’m flattered. Very difficult to judge, when the content is so personal , if the writing is awful…

  6. Thanks, Jean and Patry. I’m very grateful for your good words.

    Jean, if you have such a hard time distancing yourself from your writing, and yet can still write so well – that’s pretty impressive.

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