, , , , ,


Underground in the basement,
three young men plug in.

No roadies carried their amps.
They are lean and strong.

No one else wrote their music.
It came from inside,

from a place you never see
below the surface.

Friends arrive, descending stairs.
Conversations. Drinks.

Reunions and shared laughter.
The band greets them all.

Then in unison: a chord.
Not just any chord.

It’s a harmony of light,
shining in the dark.

This poem is a variation on Japanese poetic forms that often use groupings of five and seven syllables. It is named after my favorite local band in Ann Arbor in the mid-1990s. Bassist Geoff Streadwick was previously a member of the locally legendary Morsel, created 40 oz. Sound studio to record local talent, and sadly passed away many years ago while still a young, creatively brilliant man.

The vinyl single.

You can still find Gondolier’s music online thanks to their drummer, Jayson, on his Soundcloud page. Although those recordings remain amongst my favorite things, they pale in comparison to the jaw-dropping majesty of experiencing Gondolier in concert in a friend’s basement or Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig or the bar formerly known as Ypsilanti’s Cross Street Station.

The flip side of the single.

For many years, I had a Gondolier t-shirt silkscreen-printed with the first single’s cover art by the company founded by Morsel’s bassist Brian Hussey. I wore it through seven kinds of hell until the damn thing nearly fell off my body. I still miss it.

The only surviving picture of me in my Gondolier shirt from 1997, and you can’t even see it.

Gondolier was three young men from Michigan who made music that inspired me and continues to inspire me to this day. I had the pleasure of interviewing them once, for a music review in a local publication. But nothing has ever compared to being right against the stage when they belted out the greatest sounds I’d ever heard.

This poem now appears in the book Meteor Mags: Permanent Crescent and Other Tales.