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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

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.

The Experiment

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.


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