John Fahey – 1939-2011; Dragonfly; The Experiment
By: Tom Valovic
John Fahey – 1939-2011
"The opening chords are from the last movement of Vaughan Williams' Sixth Symphony.
It goes from there to a Skip James motif. Following that it moves to a Gregorian chant, "Dies Irae".
John, I never expected you to show up for dinner. But you did,
burnished guitar in hand, theological arguments at the ready.
Imagine: “the father of new age music”, dining with wife
Nancy and I in the tiny confines of our young married’s
apartment in Brighton, Mass, chowing down chicken and even
playing a song or two. We corresponded for years after that,
debating the fine points of Catholic and Episcopalian theology.
“I covet your wife” you said, in a moment of unrare candor.
Your “cerebral symphonies” were a strange brew of classical
discipline combined with the whiskey bottle earthiness of Delta blues.
Years later, I dragged a friend to see you perform in Lauderdale.
You remembered me. Talking between acts, we witnessed the sad
denouement of your deep slide and heard your terrible tale:
anguish and transcendence, the blues served up for a party of one.
Go ahead buzz me I can take it. Granted I’m just getting my
daily dose of global warming with this incessant hill-walking.
But you startled me. Is that your purpose? On my last link
up the last hill, you came at me as if to provoke a head-on
collision. Fortunately you swerved deftly away at the last minute
as if to say: pay attention to that last minute, it’s worth it.
It was, I would say (without the benefit of capturing it on my
phone) a sharp right-angle turn, quick, sure and effortless.
If only I could duplicate that -- some way, somehow –
in the crazy swirl philosophers call our existential predicament
Yes that’s the ticket: make a sharp quick turn into wisdom or
at least avoidance when life offers its meteor showers
of unwarranted events. This or that dumbass thing: dodge it
and fly into a new uncharted zone with ease and aplomb.
I dwell in the realm of deep certainty. I am a scientist.
Yes I just sucker punched you but only to prove a point.
The way you are doubled up now is a simple physical reaction
That is easily verified. The fact that you spilled your wine
Is understandable given all this excitement. It’s not every
Day that one gets to prove a point so dramatically.
There are exciting career opportunities in science now.
Just last year at the Berne facility in Switzerland we captured
the essence of divine order in a discarded Jack Daniel’s bottle of all things.
Experiments are of course underway and grant money is plentiful.
Please get off the floor and we can discuss it.
Tom Valovic studied poetry with Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, and John Malcolm Brinnin. He has published in a variety of publications including “Prickly Pear", the “Boston University Journal”, and “Yankee” magazine. Tom is the author of “Digital Mythologies” (Rutgers University Press) and has written articles about the relationship of culture and technology for the “Boston Globe”, “San Francisco Examiner”, “Media Studies Journal”, “Annals of Earth”, and other publications.