Excerpt from Modern American Gypsy:

Dedicated to Dale Tomlinson

France to Switzerland

The rain struck the Sprinter’s roof top like bullets. Relentless and furious. It was the loudest sound surrounding us, making it hard to speak over, until the front right tire exploded.

BOOM!

All nine of us men got out of the van, because if one is to be wet, we shall all be wet. Dale facilitated simple jobs and messy ones. My knees pressed deep into the mud and my hand sank in two inches deep, making it look like I had one hoof, as I crouched near Dale holding the flashlight for him to see. Some of the wing nuts cooperated while others became traitors. After some time, many ideas, and mercy from fate, we got the spare tire on and were tightening her up. The rain had abused us, the thunder jolted us, the lightening disturbed us. The mud puddles became small streams and the rain picked up even heavier, it made you drink it down if you spoke. That’s when Dale got the call. He excused himself and jumped in the van. By the time we had finished the job and the spare was sorted and we finished putting the tools away, Dale was finished with his call.

His girlfriend of five years had phoned him to let him know she was done with him and that she was packing his stuff and bringing it to one of his mate’s houses and for Dale not to come home.

Dale hollered to us over the thunder as the rain fell into his mouth and we all sank into the streaming mud. “Apparently she was waiting for me to leave, so she could have it easy moving me out. Met another bloke, she said.”

There was a problem with the spare, so we wouldn’t be able to get to the E-Tap by midnight; we would have to find a garage. Dale knew of a petrol station off the motorway that was open around the clock. Because the men weren’t mechanics, we all worked on the tire together; yet Dale submerged himself in the work the most to keep from thinking.

By the time we were back on the road we still had two and a half hours to go; Dale had been driving since 8:30AM that morning. His face color was grey. Expressionless. Tired eyes. Melancholy. As men look when they are working out confused looped thoughts.

When we got to the E-Tap there were some problems with checking into the mechanical entrance way. We stood outside hunched over our bag in the rain hoping the problem would sort before all our clothes were drenched. It didn’t. Once inside we all undressed in silence; there was no humor in anyone. We had three small rooms, each only the size for three men standing, not moving, at once. I remembered I had one last German 22 oz bottle of beer in the Sprinter and also something Dale had told me the night before. I headed back out into the rain to fetch it.

I knocked on room 17, Dale’s room.
“Right?” Dale said answering.
I pushed the beer into his hand and said, “Isn’t it your birthday today?”
“Cheers mate, yes it is,” he said and gripped the bottle.

=

Modern American Gypsy can be found here:
http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

Excerpt from: The Modern American Gypsy

The Modern American Gypsy:

This is the account of 220-day squat tour David McWane took with his men across England and Europe, playing music and searching for the unknown. It is less of a band’s autobiography and more of – men vs. their odds story. It could be compared to the comradeship found in Endurance by Ernest Shackleton or Steinbeck’s illumination of the strength of men at their most challenged. The Modern American Gypsy is an expedition for self-exploration.

*

FranceBotafar

*

To get from Krefeld, Germany, to Paris, France, we drove on A7 to E40 in a small white Sprinter through Belgium, passing small villages packed with small white houses with red clay curved tiled roof tops and continued up and down it’s damp hilly landscape, passing crumbled castles set high atop unreachable cliffs, then on through to A2, where the land looked like an endless bed sheet in the wind, then connected to A1, where you could look down from the road onto ancient churches centering small villages and adding grandeur to the farmlets and their fields of bound wheat, to finally connect with A3 and reach Paris by mid day. The windows were wet.

Most of us men still had the unfortunate remembrances of our lousy drunk from the night before. We tried to sleep it off in the hopes of properly starting the process over again by morning, but the Sprinter we drove was packed uncomfortably tight. There was no way any of us could fall asleep, our heads bouncing against the glass and our legs twisted in our bags and instruments.
I gave up sleep and stared out onto the yellow fields of rape seed. It was warm, raining, but warm. And the windows left down let in the warm air and light rain, allowing everything inside the Sprinter to float and dance. It was slow motion; it was what I imagined magic would look like. The sun reflected on everything it could reach, softly and kindly blinding us. We talked quietly about Paris. We talked quietly about women. Germany had made us slow and lethargic, but with each mile we gained on France we became more alive. My friend talked excitedly about how he was going to meet a Danish girl he had met four years prior and had been writing every week since. I was happy for him. He needs a woman even more than me.

Five out of the eight of us men decided we wanted to court a good woman sooner than later during that conversation. Too many scorpion kisses that taste like bitter warnings had touched our lips. Now is the time to stop looking for a flower in the dry forest with a torch. In that moment, in the van of dancing napkins and loose paper, with warm rain on my face, I had turned a chapter in my life – ‘Bring me miles, bring me Paris and awaken me so that I can find what it is all men search for, so I can find – her.’

We take a moment in Belgium to stretch and air out our clothes at a petrol station. Rain clouds hover over muddy grass fields where cows sleep together bowling the earth down. Mist whirls and wets our coats black and makes them slick, as we enter the station and stand around a high table discussing karma over hot tea and biscuits.

There were times that us men held our breaths too long for happiness to find us. But now we have all become the creators of it, giving it to each other and allowing us all to relax in laughter whenever there is a free moment.

We drive on.

Entering Paris we pass a small café where young people laugh and flirt, then continue on to where the business people and shop workers are just starting their walks home. We all sit up straight, try to comb our hair with our dirty fingers and begin showing off what little French we know as we take a right onto the Quai Mauriac, a road named after Francis Mouriac, a French writer from the 1800s. Just before reaching the Bibliotecha National France we take a dipping right onto a small road parallel to the river called La Seine, to the Quai where the boat Botafar is docked.

Tonight we are to do seven interviews and a concert in the bowels of the boat. It is nice to be back in Paris. It is nice to hope for a woman. I worry about my health this day and my life, and I wonder if I still know how to flirt.

Us men all work together well after twelve years of travel. We unpack the bags, the beer and wine, the instruments, our album recordings, the spare tire and all the trinkets — stickers, patches and pins — we have to sell. I call us – the Modern American Gypsies to the men. And the men like that.

It was a big day for France that day. Not only was it the national holiday, ‘The Eighth of May’, the day La Revolution freed France from German occupation back in WWII, but it is a very important election day. Francois Mitterrand, after fourteen years of rule, is to step down as president of France. A Nicolas Sarkozy was the suspected new president, but it is not to be official until the votes are counted and that was to be in a couple of hours. France felt like it was waiting to sneeze. Our French friends from Metz and Nancy who are also playing with us at the Botafar came up to us and we greeted them with strong overcoat clenching hugs. Yet our friends from France had to excuse themselves to talk with loved ones on phones about the election. I am told by my friends Seb and Yul that they are all fearful that Sarkozy would win the election, for they disagreed with all he says. These were global times of questionable leaders.

As I take a minute to drink a warm German beer by the edge of the water, away from the happenings, I think it all to be lovely…a few boats bumping against the docks, their ropes pulling tight and then easing again, the smell and sound of the water, young Lovers of the Sound hovering, smiling and waving, beer and smoke, bread and cheese, wine and winks, a day you could sit and someone curious would chat you up into a new lasting friendship. A good day. A safe day.

Nadia, a ripe girl with long brown hair, sleepy eyes and a closed mouth smile, works the door, taking your money and handing you a ripped ticket. Her nose is in piles of books and folders. She is studying for her exams scheduled early the next day, she tells me, sighing often, longing to join in the day.

Down in the belly of the boat the concert is mad. People sway the boat back and forth, left and right until water splashes the portholes and it is impossible not to stagger about. Instruments crash, amplifiers topple over, I, with others jump into the crowd and swim on them while we all float and bounce under the water line. The ceiling drips. Lovers of our Sound hang on pipes and stand against the walls that are slick with sweat. Lovers of the Sound reach and pull at the microphone making me drown in a sea of believers. Lovers of the Sound cheer and I cheer. Lovers of the Sound scream and I scream.

When it is over, the outside dock is filled with us all. I sit with friends on a thick rope fence; the water behind us. Red wine is poured in small cups and handed about. I breath in the laughter and stretch my shoulders and neck back. It’s smell is sweet. With my eyes closed, I still see the pretty smiles and wonderful eyes of kind men and beautiful women all around. I exhale. Open my eyes. And join back in moment. A young man makes his way to me, moving with intent, he speaks to me kindly in French, knowing I do not understand. My friend Yul translates after the young man hugs me and takes a photograph, Yul relays that “he says you helped him.” We drink and smoke like men do when they are truly happy, I admit, that I bit into this night with the need of flavor and now the juices of it run down my chin and I would have kissed any girl who kept me a stare, a wink or a smile.

Our English friends who had played a show the night before arrive on foot and tell us we are all going to a new place for more cheer. I greet and catch up with a good friend named Neil, a trumpet player with a colorful mind. We begin to walk together, the Englishmen, our French friends, the Lovers of the Sound that want more and us Modern American Gypsies. I spend most of the walk with my arm around Seb. His election was lost. And while the people of my country are coming together with the hope and hearsay of a new leader that will pull us out from darkness, his hope has only now eclipsed.

As it grew late, young ladies, with luscious lips, roll and lick cigarettes tight, as they laugh and lightly bat their long lashes, looking over as they light them. I was proud to take Bebette on my other arm; she is undoubtedly the kindest of them all.

All forty of us walk down La Seine where the moon dripped milk on the canal’s wavering waves, back up to Quai Mauriac, where I have now lost my direction, to finally end up on Rue de Chateaudun passing the Syphax Café where I had drunk once before, moving still atop the stone streets, along narrow walkways, the Ligne twelve passing us with a roar, all forty of us singing, swaggering, some kissing, wrestling, some happy in their silent smile and all the while I had Bebette’s hand in mine and my arm over Seb telling him the election would be alright and to hell with Sarkozy.

*

11 Poems from these titles:

The Gypsy Mile
Biting Lightening, Bloody Mary
&
Let The Poets Come & Stop Me

Drowning The Gods

One day,
we will drown the Gods
that implement,
or even accept,
murder
in their faith.
No, the Gods will not really drown,
but they will get our point.

—-

drowning in demons, reaching for your devil

you must stop
battling all the little demons
while the devil himself sits calmly watching
can’t you see,
that the devil is just keeping you busy?
he knows you’ll never think of knocking him down
while you’re distracted
if you want to end it,
end it
if you want progress, make progress
stop wasting your productive years
battling those little demons
want blood?
slay the big guy
what the hell is it you want anyway?
let all those little demons just hang on you
while you move forward
move strong toward his chair
grab your devil by his neck
surprise him; knock him down
the little ones will jump off once they see that
flex every muscle
put your brow down
you can have anything you want

—-

The Burning Fiddles Of Hell

Actually,
the Devil doesn’t play a fiddle at all,
he has his own players, who play for him.
In Hell, fiddlers are hand picked
and respected.
They build, maintain and endlessly play
the burning fiddles of Hell.
If one player’s instrument breaks
or bow string burns,
the other players take over,
the intoxicating gypsy songs.
The Devil even has wine sent to them,
to keep them drunk, for it makes them play more aggressively.
And it has been said, he occasionally grins
and compliments and even acts friendly with
the fiddlers of Hell, for he does love their songs.
So to answer your question
yes,
there are better spots here in Hell.
They’re for the fiddlers,
but only fiddlers.
So play on
bad men
play
on.

—-

The Man With God

I came across a man in mid argument with God.
And even though God wouldn’t reveal anything to the man,
He, in all his greatness, looked worried at how well
prepared the man was.
I sat and watched the man and thought,
“I respect that”.

—-

The Forever-Ignored Boy

“Why does my mother
ignore me?”
asked the Forever-Ignored Boy.
“Oh well, your mother is just a
lost,
scared little girl,”
replied God.
“Oh. Well then…why does my Father
not care to find me?”
The Forever-Ignored Boy looked to the ground
and with his
big toe
drew a swirl in the dirt,
then brought his eye brows down in thought,
trying to understand his
quiet life.
“Oh, your father, yes, see,
he is more scared
and more lost
then your mother,
spoke God sadly,
for He had been listening to both the boy’s mother’s
and father’s
cries for many years.
“Well then, what shall I do Lord?”
raised The Forever-Ignored Boy.
“What shall you do about what?”
God had answered this question many times with others.
“Well…when I grow up, I don’t want to be
lost or
scared
like my mother or my father”,
spoke the Forever-Ignored Boy, a bit scared
to speak
so boldly
to God.
“Ah…well, let’s think…you have always been brave…
and you already know the way,
don’t you?”
God rested his arm over the boy’s shoulders and
brought him close.
“Yes”,
answered the Forever-Ignored Boy
“I do”.

—-

Voodoo Doll

I always said
that I
would never sit with a devil and make a voodoo doll,
but I did.
It’s quite small
and stupid.
I wish I never made the thing.

—-

My Punishment

I was told,
that I was told,
not to speak the Lord’s name in vain.
But I had.
My light robe was carefully taken off
by younger angels, being instructed by a young adult female angel.
I was placed over an ivory altar
where my wrists were chained and my ankles the same.
I hadn’t learned yet how to control my wings,
So they twitched and shook.
I was visibly
scared.
But that was ignored.
Then, an older angel explained to me,
that I didn’t follow the rules of
The Book,
so I would receive a lash
from the whip he was showing me
for each time I blasphemed.
All the angels horse-shoed around me,
talking quietly like it was a cocktail party.
The whip was raised and the chatting stopped.
It got very quiet,
other than the soft questions whispered by the young angels.
Then it began.
The pain was more than I had ever felt in life,
my back opening and opening more.
And I screamed, a sound I’ve never hear myself make, low and deep.
I cried out more tears than I had ever shed.
The angles broke out in hymns.
The verses spoke of how, without evil and punishment,
there would be no good.
I vomited.
I bled.
I caught a glimpse of my mother.
She watched from my father’s arms, shaking violently.
My feathers
took to the air with each blow
and stuck to my face as they came down.
I choked on some
tasting my salty blood.
It seemed to go on forever,
I did curse a lot in my twenties.
When he was done
I lay sprawled
with labored breath,
my body, blood, and feathers.
The young angels were told to sit and write
about what they learned.
The others walked off.
I was left
alone
to be in thought
of my sin.
And from that day on
my wings
no longer shake
or twitch.
They actually
have never
been opened.
They hang very low,
very still
and I speak no one’s name anymore.

—-

I’m Beautiful

There are Japanese monks
who know precisely
when
death
is upon them.
They travel to a place of choice,
sit with their
legs crossed,
backs straight,
and write their death poem.
They then speak their last words;
absorb their death,
put out the light of this world,
light the lamp of the next
and journey on.

I prefer to choke
on my breathing tube,
tearing in a cubical; with purple curtains,
separated from another nameless dying man
lying on my bed sores,
atop my excrement,
alone,
with doctors I do not know,
crying more on the inside
than my tears can paint.

—-

Bread, Water, & Wine for the Pain

When all the other angels were asleep
I used to dive down to Hell,
disguised as a shooting star.
I would search for my friends and family
and bring them
bread,
water
and wine
for the pain.
Some nights I could only make one journey,
while other nights I could make many.
It all depended on what the angels and demons
were up to that night.
But I got caught.
It was the night I made quite a few trips.
An angel drinking late by the gates
spotted me;
told God.
And He was furious.
The Devil even more so.
I was cast deep inside Hell for it,
until God felt my punishment fit.
But my father,
with the help of my love,
brings me
bread,
water
and wine
for the pain.
But I eat not
and I drink not,
no, not me,
not me who has Heaven to come.
I hand out my gifts.
For there are good people here too.

—-

We Want The Red Head

“We want the red head!”
“We want the red head!”
The bar screamed alone

“We want the red head!”
“We want the red head!”
She felt, special, pretty and proud

“We want the red head!”
“We want the red head!”
Atop the table she took a bow

Then did a dip
Spun her dress and winked
Then eloquently sat back down

—-

oh how she wears that little white dress

I want to dance with eleanor powell
I want to hold her hand as she spins that little white dress around me
I want to smell her hair as her waist turns in my hands
I want to make her smile, a lover’s smile
and feel her giggle
and feel her squeeze my arm
when she wants me to know she’s right there with me
I want to take two champagnes from the waiter’s tray
take her to the balcony on my arm
I want to see her eyes widen
and head tilt slightly back
as she looks up at me
as she falls for me
I want the moon to be big and white and magically – only light us
and the distant music from the band to be playing
our love song
I want to take her glass from her hand
set it down on the terrace
pull her close
tell her I love her
and will take her away
then kiss her
long
soft
and with hints of lust
and feel her squeeze my arm once again
to let me know she’s right there with me
and for her to hug me with everything she’s got
squeeze me and bury her head in my chest
oh how I want to dance
with eleanor powell

—-

My First Dinner in Heaven

I want Shepard and Banksy to paste the walls
Dali to arrange the furniture
Rockwell to prepare dinner
And Picaso to choose the wine

I want Van Gogh and O’Keefe to choose the flowers
Gould to play his piano
Edith Piaf to sing
And Ms. Audrey Hepburn to be my girl

I want Dr Suess and Gorey to trade stories
Jane Goodall to inspire us
Fred Astaire to teach us steppin’
And Arno Rafael Minkkinen to photograph us all

I want my mother and father to be kissing
All my old pets to be young and playing
My old teddy bear living
And all my heroes as proud as anything

I want to eat, drink and laugh with everyone
While Rembrant and Basquiat work together,
Drunk off hot wine, painting us all
At my first dinner in heaven

26-Miles Of Glory

26-Miles of Glory began when Peter Payack, a Berklee Professor and marathoner who has run 12 Bostons, called his former student turned friend, David McWane saying – “We just have to do this song; the city needs it.” David agreed, wrote 26-Miles of Glory, locked up with local studio engineer Jay Mass at Get Away Recording and brought in ten talented musicians from his Boston band Big D and the Kids Table (2 marathoners).

The song’s tempo was crafted to have the perfect runner’s pace. The lyrics are spoken from the inner thoughts of a female and male while they are participating in the Boston Marathon. The lyrics also follow the route of the Boston Marathon and pay homage to those who lost their lives, the wounded, and those who helped Patriot’s Day 2013.

We hope 26-Miles of Glory will give the city of Boston and all those who run Marathons all over the world strength and pride.

- David McWane

26-Miles of Glory! Written by: David McWane

LYRICS

Verse 1. (Female – Sirae Richardson)
! Toeing up the line on Patriot’s day
I’ve been training for this run for months now
Lock a solid pace, through 7 towns I’ll race
Chin up, eyes locked, with a low brow

For my mother who has passed
I’ll be strong and I’ll be fast
Nothing can break my stride
I’m moving

For friends down the street
Because they’ve always supported me
Saying, “Girl you move like you got wings”

For my father, for my brother, for teachers; all my anchors
I’m going to blast by them just like cheetah blur
For Jeff for standing tall, for Carlos and them all
Is why I’ll run this marathon

Do you see me blasting through Hopkinton?
Do you see me blasting through Ashland?
The cheers, the cheers, the cheers, the cheers
Got me feeling strong like a singer in a rock band

On through Natick now Wellesley
There ain’t nobody faster then me
For you, for me, for all in need
It’s 26-miles of Glory

Pre-chorus!

We’re yours Boston
The American Marathon

Chorus!

26-Miles Of Glory
Boston – Strong
The runner’s day of glory

Verse 2. (Male – David McWane)

I’m here today to prove to myself
I’m better than what they used to call me
Had a couple bad years, but I’m back up now
Giving back to those who support me

For my wife who’s past I’ll move strong and fast
Our kids will point and scream there’s Daddy
Past Wellesley, Com Ave., feeling free
Can’t believe this, Lord just look at me

For Krystle, for Martin, for Sean and for Lingzi
Hitting my stride, stride, stride, stride
My muscles they don’t fail me

Heartbreak Hill won’t make me fall
I’ll push, push on right through that wall
The runner’s beat is where I belong
I was born to run this marathon

Striding now on a steady beat
Almost to Boylston St.
I see it, I see it, I see it, I see it
26-Miles Of Glory!