Let The Music Name You

for Scott Wannberg, 1953-2011
by S.A. Griffin, Los Angeles, CA

Scott is holding his mother’s small and fragile hand inside his own
15 minutes before she’s gone
Lorraine and I wait patiently a few feet away
their figures leaking thru the thin
white hospital curtains like shadow puppets
while outside the dark Arizona winter evening leaks thru the steady snow
as mother Mary softly pleads and begs, “Help me…”
to Scott’s gentle but persistent counterpoint, “I love you…”

Mary, a Colorado River song

Scott is watching his father
waste away on a bed next to him in their one bedroom on
Mitchell Avenue in Mar Vista
Scott’s been wiping Ernie’s ass for months now
his father disappearing into the Diane Arbus snapshot of
their life together

I call to ask Ernie if the weed we gave him
helped his dying appetite,
“Did you feel anything?” I ask
Ernie the talking head on a disappearing stick
laughing an empty belly full of happy responds,
“Nope, didn’t feel a thing!” as he ha-has and
hands the phone back over to Scott

Bob the Cat sits next to Ernie
anxious Scott and patient Bob waiting for the ambulance to come and
take Ernie away never to return

Ernie, a San Pedro sailor’s song
Scott sobbing broken hearted and lost among the books at Dutton’s Brentwood
he almost never came back to us
Dutton’s, an out of print work song

Scott is standing before me in Florence, Oregon
at his Uncle Ken’s 881 miles from Los Angeles
his hometown that can he can no longer afford
we’ve unloaded the rental van
had steaks and scotch and some laughs with his Uncle Ken and his lady Karen
and now, it is time for me to go

Scott wonders what he will do here

“You’re a poet,” I say,
“this is your job now,
this is what you do.”

“Okay,” he says, “come and visit.”
“Okay,” and I give him a big hug and
get the hell out of there before we both
start bawling like two huge hairy babies

I will never see him in Florence or Oregon again
Scott is at the punk rock Anti Club on Melrose
Mike Bruner and I watching our pal erupt spontaneous for the first time
rapping the ED MEESE BLUES with one third his size
Kevin Jacobs on gatling guitar,
“Ed Meese had sex with my neighbor’s lunchbox!
Oh yeah, Ed Meese made mad monkey love to a dead nude
model T Ford named hey now!!
Oh yeah, Ed Meese is a tall small pornographic milk shake made of
ray guns and shit for brains!!


Bruner and I agree that we have
found the source of the river
and Scott is it

Scott is Dixie the Cat on little people feet
now an art song
he is Sparky the Dog running for president on the
Bob the Cat the lost accident song
just do something and improvise ticket
an ongoing dancer exploding on the horizon of a
Picasso sunrise playing yes indeed upon the world’s curious calliope
in the wake of his morning dew

Scott reading to my infant son Spencer almost 24 years old now
Scott singing poetry at our September wedding in Griffith Park 11 years ago the 9th
Scott blowing out the candle on his macaroni and cheese birthday cake
Scott, poet maker who entered the process as a child with flowers in his eyes
virtuoso favorite son of the human family that grew into such blooming wonder

Scott the colossus codifier
pens poem on a napkin
on cardboard
on a plate
hands it to you and says
come along if you’ve a mind to and
let’s go!

Scott has your back
riding shotgun in the front seat of a
combustible twisted Cadillac
called Farther

Scott is the radio
armed with
words that will smoke you
that will massage you with lysergic laughter
think you easy with
movies and music peopled by
dogs that feel with their eyes
and cats with nine lives made of verse
that can invent the air in front of you
he is the bread and roses inside your convenient amnesia
that knows where to find you
Scott, great gifter
river of words
upon which we rode like
Huck Finn down the Mississippi

Scott, samurai strawberries on ice
the drunk war praying deep in his fat
is bones for Bobby
a scarecrow named Matthew Shepherd crucified on a fence barbed with hate
Sherise Iverson, a gambler’s sad ante struggling inside a Vegas bathroom
marked slim chance with injustice for all
the Twinkie defense that stole all our San Franciscos
pried loose by tire irons of love arm wrestling for mercy
inside the world’s tired sandbox
the Earth’s frightened children longing for some sacred new music
from the tubes of a broken old radio
broadcasting murdering musicals masturbating the Pennsylvania Avenue blues
everybody come on in

Scott is in bed
it is Thursday night
weak like a newborn kitten
Scott is dressed and ready
alone on his back

Scott, reaching for the magic
it is Friday, I call
the machinery answers
“Let the music name you,”
and so we do

lean in with me
you can hear with your heart
the knowing one that actually listens
as Scott gladly sings you into a new year every morning
you are alive enough
foolish enough
to exercise your own kaleidoscopic pulse
with the certain knowledge that somebody cares enough to
bounce to your skin’s natural history

for Scott,
an Oregon lake song
a strange and sudden new movie full of memory
a picture of grief taped to the wall
a road and words without end

for Scott,
who I will never meet again
thanks brother,
the milk was good
I loved your song