St. Louis begins…and continues!


I dedicate this blog entry to Zimbabwe Nkenya, a good friend and wonderful musician, who was scheduled to join us for the show but could not make it. He had a stroke a month before the scheduled St. Louis performance. Our Love to Zimbabwe and his family.


Gather up & gather round
a poet’s rap
is going down
ain’t nothing new
the evening news
colorfully true
st. louis blues
aching thru
& snaking round
the mystery
& shaking apples
from your tree
to lift you from
your gravity

Poet’s Rap
It’s a killer
Poet’s Rap
It’s a killer


The Moonrise Hotel is a trip.

I am not sure what it is about that place. Maybe it’s the stairs flashing and flickering colors wired to tone and tempo of funky music piped into the lobby. Or red, white, and green plastic cubes and bulbous white plastic chairs and sofa set up in the driveway for a Fellini fashion shoot.


Or the busboys and girls with Madonna-style headsets roaming the halls and grounds, all cute and smart and glad to be of assistance. There’s the multi-mirrored convex mirror collage installation in front of the lobby elevator, perfect for a re-enactment of The Beatles’ Help!, and the huge framed Dali-esque mirrors outside of the elevator on each floor, bending as you approach them. Or the 20 dollar hamburger and excellent Margaritas at the European modern Eclipse restaurant and bar attached to the lobby. (I passed on the 20 dollar burger.) Spacious and newly decorated rooms were totally up to speed. You could plug your computer into the huge flat screen and get wireless surround sound (maybe). But the beds were just way too soft. It was like lying in a grave, I swore I was being swallowed up for good. It gave me the mini-terrors.

times are hard
careening fast
& each new day
could be our last
more reason to
use heads & hearts
& not abuse
our natural smarts
cause any answer
we can find
delving deep
in heart of mind
down in its depths
& still as stone
we understand
we’re not alone

Poet’s Rap
It’s a thriller
Poet’s Rap
It’s a thriller

Here’s the list of poets & musicians who joined us for the ROCKPILE performance at the “weirdly amusing” Regional Arts Center across the street from The Moonrise: Jason & the Beast (Jason Braun accompanied by Jerry Hill and Mic Boshans on drums) were high all the way, hip-hop poetry and beat par excellence; Alex Balogh, our friend from Untamed Ink read a perfect tribute poem to Papa Meltzer; the awesome anarchist Sean Arnold drove a steady rhythm, intense and sublime .

Many thanks to Paul Nevenkirk, of St. Louis, MO, for letting us use his great photos of the poets and musicians to accompany the performance videos.

Jason Braun

Mic Boshans

Jerry Hill

Alex Balogh

Sean Arnold

Phil Gounis showed us The Way (has a great cd collaboration with Rich Kruse–who graciously lent us his PA system, said, “I never thought I would be a roadie for poets”– reviewed on Big Bridge. Maria Guadalupe Massey gave us her bluesy all. Harry Sky Campbell was sweet and beautiful. Howard Schwartz taught us about lineage and justice. Shirley LeFlore possessed the mighty elegant soul and flow.

Phil Gounis

Maria Guadalupe Massey

Harry Sky Campbell

Howard Schwartz

Shirley LeFlore

K. Curtis Lyle roared like a lion, his verbal claw on the heart of America.

K. Curtis Lyle

Michael Castro knew “The Poet’s Rap” (he was the ONE in St. Louis who got this whole show together, thanks for everything Michael, wow!) He wrote after the event: “Our audiences were inter-generational and diverse, as were the participating poets & musicians. It demonstrated the vitality of the arts community here, an impression that will be spread by all those involved.”


yet in our time
we separate
& seeds get sown
of fear & hate
this rap reminds us
life’s unity
that underlies
our lonely separate
transient me’s–
our individualities–
& know
what we need
to full-fill life
not self-ish greed

Poet’s Rap
it’s a yearning
Poet’s Rap
It’s life-affirming

Head’s up, America!!! St. Louis knows how to celebrate poetry and music!!!!

And Dave Black was great on the guitar.

Dave Black

David A.N. Jackson was always on the money with percussion, his curtain of bells.

 David A.N. Jackson

And the Bob Malone Band was at it again, with us in Chicago the week before, sang the songs Bob and I wrote together. To end his solo set Bob played some major Jerry Lee Lewis rock and roll while Adelia and I danced at the back of the room. Then The Malone Band, David A.N. Jackson and Dave Black took the show home with The ROCKPILE Trio.

(More video coming soon!)

Who says poetry readings are boring????!!!!

We had the largest audience on the ROCKPILE tour in St. Louis. The night before the RAC ROCKPILE event, at the celebration for Untamed Ink reading at Lindenwood, we matched the RAC Crowd, 140 bodies (TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW!!!!)

Beau Jesus says so
Buddha too
& Martin, Malcolm
& Lao Tzu
& every animal
through whose eyes
a soul cries out
we recognize
each still small voice
says, to be free
we must express
our unity
& bathe each self
in selfless bliss
as lovers do
inside a kiss

Poet’s Rap
Thou art That
Poet’s Rap
Thou art That

Did I mention that pizza joint after the Lindenwood gig? You could get New York Style, Chicago Style or St. Louis Style pizza. The eggplant parmagiana was awesome. We went for the New York style, the large was more than enough for 4 people. Homemade sauce, gooey cheese, crispy crust, maybe not New York but yummy.



We ate a few times at Blueberry Hill Café. Cheap and reasonable portions. The cheeseburger was my favorite meal there. The late night breakfast was very average. I couldn’t get fried eggs because they only had those pre-scrambled pourable eggs. Ugh. David seemed to agree with their Caeser and chicken, but one day we went over to The Blueberry alone (Terri stayed at the Moonrise to download a backlog of footage) and we had a heart to heart about sobriety, morality, propriety and ultimately too much cheese! We both ordered a salad. There was so much grated cheese in the bowl you couldn’t find the lettuce. It’s just wasn’t right. Thick and sticky and flavorless.

One midnight I took a look around the Pin Up Bowl, a bar/bowling alley, it was a great idea , but the music was so loud and everyone was drunk so I dashed out and sat at the bus stop to collect myself. Floating above me…The Moonrise has its own moon.

We went to Duff’s for lunch and Karen Duffy, who has hosted literary readings at her Central West End restaurant since 1974, joined us for a mellow afternoon.


Thanks Karen for your camaraderie and generosity and the best Cobb Salad and awesome chocolate ganache desert I had on the whole ROCKPILE tour…


so expand that
& understand
“I’m” not just “me”
& that the inside
& the out
is what we’re finally
The universe is
where we are
more near than far
the final Word is
All is One
So now you know
The rap’s undone

Poet’s Rap
It’ll haunt ya
Poet’s Rap
It’s a mantra

it’s a mantra

it’s a mantra

-michael castro-

* * *

So this was the last stop of the ROCKPILE on the Road tour. But be forewarned, David, Terri and I are not calling it quits. Yes, it was a long, exhausting trip but the high of collaboration and making new friends is all endorphins. Sure, we had our squabbles and I wrecked the car a few times but the ROCKPILE TRIO has achieved a perfect dysfunction. ROCKPILE, is an addiction that’s impossible to cure. It can only get better. We can only get higher. We hear rumblings in Dublin, Berlin, Great Britain, Amsterdam and Victoria, BC. Calls to return to Rochester, Buffalo, and Toronto. Joe Cunliffe  is poking around DC for another gig. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band wants to hook up in the Bay Area in the Spring. What about Hawaii? Alaska? Don’t forget The Rabbles! We’re supposed to do a Grand Finale in the Bay Area in 2010. Yes, we’ll do a big show but Grand Finale? I don’t think so…ever….


* * *



Rummaging thru four-fold papers of road scrawls. Out-of-sequence like this Rockpiler in the aftermath of our odyssey.

Signage like splattered shattered colored glass chips:

“Embryos Are Babies”
Fill Up With Freedom Gas
in Normal

Shut up
& write a fucking haiku

Bubba truck tire flaps


Most of all, the musicians were the adventure. Sound was ambix. How to listen to each other in the moment. How to hear & respond. When to be silent. When to weave w/in the fields of sound. How to transform, merge, create a momentum of sounds into the air. Moons ago, the composer Peter Garland edited a magazine called, appropriately, Soundings, where contemporary composers wrote about their work, the process of composing, also providing the music on the page in its own language. We were creating within the sounded-out mystery of improvisation. Composer R. Murray Schafer (in his essential text, The Tuning of the World), coined the keyword “soundscape” for the acoustic realms we inhabit.

Now I will do nothing but listen . . .
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night . . .

— Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

We worked w/ wonderful players & their mantra of “it’s a gig” said it all about the life of poetry. Feel a great kinship to musicians & to their art & economy.


-David Meltzer

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