Your Money’s Worth 1992

         Your Money’s Worth

You all deserve your money’s worth –

You who pay to read this book;

Who even take a look;

And you with crooked eyes

Who say the stuff is filled with lies –

You too, deserve the most.

And so it’s up to us, the hosts

To give you all the thought we’ve got,

With every sort of metered wart,

Well-crafted plot;

For when we’re dead

You’ve years ahead

To scan (or skim) a work or two;

It’s there for you –

A printed thought:

A product wrought

To teach or just amuse your selves,

In print forever; on the shelves

One long-drawn work:

Different titles – but one work.

No stream of thought,

But waves, or foam

Or bubbles, caught

In essence, wrought

Of nonsense, ego, choice.

You get the gist: art is a voice

In time, a chiming catalogue;

Both truth and sleuth.

What pleasure/treasure you amass

From nothing more exhausting than

The opening and breathing in

Of essence from another man!

©Your Money’s Worth 00.6.29 (92.6.16)

The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative;

Arlene Corwin

What Then, What Then? 1992

       What Then, What Then?

I dreamed I was 110 –

All my friends were dead.

When all one’s friends and peers are gone,

What is there then to dread?

The question that I ask is this:

If one has reached 110,

Is all around abyss?

The sister combing out one hair,

The empty goodnight kiss,

The potty underneath the chair:

These aren’t things to miss.

I mean, if all’s a ‘been’ and ‘seen’,

Life’s shell mere repetition,

Daily cleaning and the preening

Hell’s own apparition –

Is there some intrinsic worth

In staying so long on this earth?

If one could just continue learning,

Inwardly refining,

Burning off the ash that lands

The slowing mind in quicksand –

I would think of it as grand,

A mercy, leaching out the fear,

The awful clinging to the here.

What’s to say? Oy vey?

It’s neither black nor white, but gray.

If I could reach 110, I would like to welcome death,

Even dying; even spying on my dying –

With a laugh under my breath;

Not avoiding death’s intrusion,

Seeing both truth and illusion

As a simple continuity:

As said, “in perpetuity”.

If I should reach 110,

What then, my friend?

What then, what then?

©What Then, What Then? 92.4.2

Birth, Death & In Between;

Arlene Corwin






What Does It Mean When Your Friends Start Dying 1992

          What Does It Mean When You’re Friend Start Dying?         
               (On reading of the death of Red Mitchell)

What does it mean when your friends start to die –

Not only your friends but the people you’ve met?

I’m getting so tired of rhyming with dying,

Of trying to fathom the feel in my gut;

Of trying to find the most honest reaction –

Appropriate action – without adding “but…”

The chock, sudden absence,; unturnable, -backable,

Plans of “I’ll show them” that then become sackable;

Plans that seemed meaningful only just yesterday,

Losing the life force that held them in play.

Motives once framed in nobility’s name

That now sound profane, vain and fill me with shame;

Those I’d have given a million to stir,

To hear them once say,| “Oh, my heavens, it’s her!”

Those who had influence I yearned to touch;’

Those who I wanted to say, “She’s too much,

She’s the best!” Their souls are at rest.

No one to impress. Their bodies are gone.

Importance is less than that speck on the wall.

In fact, their importance is nothing at all.

But the memory lingers on.

What does it mean when your friends start to die;

And not always friends just the people you’ve met ?

It changes the places you wanted to get.

And parents? That’s worse!

You’re left there to nurse one more question of where

They are now. You may curse

But there’s nothing to do, no thing to reverse.

The famous, the eminent names that you read –

One day when you pick up the papers, they’re dead.

One of life’s hiccups. You hardly think twice.

A blending of fate and the throwing of dice.

You think about cause and effect, and you sigh

“Some of my friends are beginning to die.

My generation has started to go.”

My bass playing colleague dropped dead on the eighth.

I’m trying to take, even welcome that fate,

Think it’s my real home, deepen that faith,

Change the old patterns that soiled a past –

When it comes, as it must, say “At last, God, at last!”

It ain’t easy.



What Does It Mean When Your Friends Start Dying 92.11.11Birth, Death & In Between; Special People Special Occasions (Red Mitchell);

Arlene Corwin












Time Goes 1992

              Time GoesTime goes.
It simply goes.

Naturally, the word insists

On place and angle in its fists;

Also direction on its nose;

Position – to, from is its frame.

But where goes time when it just came?

What goes through space to make things old?

Is cause of change so all gets cold?

Wears all away so all goes under?

Nature never makes a blunder!

Forms appear and disappear,

They change their shapes,

They leave this sphere –

At least they leave this thing called ‘here’.

After a time (more mime than time)

When shapes have changed and lost their prime,

What’s left?

When, after seven years,

Each atom in your arm is new,

Each cell has gone in both your ears,

What’s left?

I recognize who’s who.

There must be some essential you.

The mind is time; it’s name just art.

It imitates creation and the part

That forms eternal now.

Time goes, but how?

It must be so; it is; but how?


©Time Goes 92.12.7


Arlene Corwin


The Time When There Was Nothing To Say 1992

     The Time When There Was Nothing To Say Or, Content Is All

In ’49, repressed and mute,

She made her instinct-driven debut.

Isolated, no one’s neighbor,

Still teenage and merely cute,

She had nothing much to say,

No expressive skills of note;

The urge to break away

Had crept in through the sex, not throat.


But there inside the head was ear,

And the gene to play with rhythm,

And a thriving drive to clear

Out something that lay hidden.


Locked inside, the need to play,

And a key, a means, a way:

Written sound, syllabic sound

That could make the clarity come ‘round.


Substitute a year, or any

Pronoun in its trail.

Gender, time are never prime

In the grammar of detail.


No, there was not much to say,

Not, when no grownup had ever

Held a single conversaytion

And un-tethered something clever.


Oh, how play-less, plaintive, painful,

Joyless, doleful, plain-drained-brain-dull!


Time: one noon, one left cocoon

Came a playce to break the rules,

Use those under-conscious tools,

Break away, begin the play,

“Swing and sway with Sammy Kaye”;

Came a day to play the fool,

Let the psyche problem solve,

Use the spelling as a tool,

Love the discipline involved.

Came a self to manifest,

The sleeping self express its best,

Awakening in loosely fitted,

Tightly worked niveaus that knitted

Eye and sound into a compound.


Things to say – appeared – appear

(Though there have been years

When impulse dryly stays away

And one has not a word to say)

And when it’s here, (as now its been)

One feels ‘forever’s’ scene

Is on the tongue and in the eye,

And that the sky’s the limit.


Then it’s time to dim the wit,

Get inside the ground ideas,

Put a bit upon the babble,

End what’s writ, put stop to scribble,

Set the switch on dimly-lit,

Become God’s modest dimwit gabble,

Wait a week, then take a peek,

Re-check the beats, re-read and polish –

Know exactly what you’ve got.


If the goulash is too rich

Start by killing the conjunction;

Re-arrange the line, all hinges,

Put a clamp on verbal binges,

Keep the article on hold,

Then re-vamp the preposition,

(Those that won’t do as they’re told).

Even commas make it holy.

Emphasis means sweating, crying,

Praying over semi-colons.

The kinetic part of trying

Means betraying semi-colons.

There’s not one thing that’s not of value

In this universe of symbol

(For that’s all it is is symbol)

Pointing inwards towards a One;

And the language and the rhythm

And the syntax are the fun.

Sometimes stunning, never cunning –

(Don’t dismiss the depth of fun).

After all is said and done

It is essentially technique

For the use of those that seek.

That means us – the strong and weak.


If you look at it that way,

There are always things to say;

And the saying and the said,

And the one who is the reader,

Or the writer, written, read:

Each is teacher, subject, leader;

All the rules all jumbled.

Writer finds himself the learner

From a mind-begotten textbook:

Time the spent, himself the earner,

Written for himself and reader

Who’s become the literal leader.

There was a time when there was nothing to say,

With no criteria to weigh

The thing, the outlet

Was romantic song: ‘corn’,


Songs be-witnessing a longing

And an instinct to express

The milk potential in the breast:

Milk unformed in unformed quest

Conforming to the ABA:


Grist-for-the-mill of things to say.


Let a word suggest a theme,

As the rhyme refines the cream

Let phrase release the phase,

And phase release the phrase

Of bio-rhythmic days

When the urgent surges forth,

Giving birth to means and ways.


Though the line defines the girth,

It stands and falls on what it says.

Content is all.

©The time When There Was Nothing To Say 95.5.26

Pure Nakedness; The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative;

Arlene Corwin





The Planet That Feels Sick 1992

           The Planet That Feels Sick

Cumulus couldn’t pee.

He’d get all black underneath

But by noon he’d change his tune

And leave the world below to sun.

Don’t you wonder how it feels

To not pee-pee for one whole moon?

The Swedish weather chart for June:

Normal rain: sixty-one millimeters; this month three.

The reigning tendency to rain

Begun to shrivel, wane;

The planet has a stomachache.

They’re digging coal.

They’re pumping oil,

They’re scraping deep in to her bowel.

Between the coal, the car, its roads –

The shoals, the toads that disappear,

The weather-deviating year,

The planet’s sick.

Every sort of probe and stick,

Each oceanic hole that’s picked:

Pipe and stick, pump and trowel –

Sickly earth’s begun to howl.

Buildings shake: a damned near miss:

LA’s almost hit the moon

And Sweden’s sky still needs to piss.

The desert has a seven-four;

A core of constipation or

A muddy diarrhea.

The Yang’s too Yin. It’s letting in

All sorts of unproductive gangs.

The Yin’s too Yang. It’s sending up

All sorts of self-destructive bangs.

Earth to center, center out:

Volcanoes have begun to sprout.

Cosmic energy awry, lava spits into the sky

Coating villages with ash.

And all we think of is the cash.

Sitting here, fundamentals geared for cheer,

I must admit – I feel like shit.

July’s blueberry bush a freckle,

Fall too soon.

Who’d heckle such a warning sign?

A cancerous speck

Forebodes the wreck about to be:

You, them, it, me.

Yes, these tears may still feel mirth,

But what’s mirth worth if there’s no earth?

©The Planet That Feels Sick 92.7.14

Circling Round Nature; Our Times, Our Culture;

Arlene Corwin






The Performer 1992

                    The Performer
She makes her face up, picks her frock,

Goes to the club and hopes she doesn’t play a crock

Of shitty, shoddy work that night.

Gets there on time; the sound is set.

She starts to play; she’s planned her set.

The baby pink is not quite right –

You know, the baby pink spotlight.

Her phrasing’s delicate but bright.

Though she’s a pro, raring to go

There’s always just a bit of nerves:

The need to please. She feels she serves.

That’s good. The voice is good, quite good.

That song came out as best it could.

The people clap. Some even shout

And whistle. “How about

Another tune?’ She sings another.

Finally the evening’s over.

Just like that: a moment’s bubble.

Was it really worth the trouble?

People who’ve just seen the act,

The ones who sat, admired, practically

Dying for a skill they lack,

Who long for what seem so attractive,

Think that after she’s performed

She goes to any place but home,

But that’s exactly where she’s headed:

Home, a bite to eat and bed.

No frilly glamour in this art,

Just daily practicing and heart,

Mind, soul, evolving luck;

A mucking in, not mucking up.

The underlying need to grow

Sleeps underneath the this-night’s show.

A groping upward, outward and

A digging inward guides her hands

And every member of the band’s.


©The Performer 92.12.6

Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin




Start Out Rubato 1992

            Start Out RubatoI must give out everything I learn

Even if it’s code,

And, according to my lights,

Give it out in ode:

Everything that I observe,

The growing concentration,

The deepened observation,

The quickening of verve,

The strengthening of nerve,

The aging muscles’ detail

As part of the de-railing

Forces my ten horses serve.

This instinct to give out must surely

Imitate what’s God –

A small big bang in principle,

The origin of word,

Of A to Zed.

© Start Out Rubato 6.7.1992

The Processes:Creative,Thinking, Meditative; Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin



Showing And Sharing #3


                  Showing And Sharing

Why do I perform, I ask you.

Kent and I, we talked it through.

“Why do we do what we do?”

We asked ourselves, musicians both,

Questions about sloth and troth;

“Why not stay at home, just play at home?”

The need to play for them, -where does it come from?

Why not warble in a corner,

Trade Jack Warner for Jack Horner?

The path, pith, analysis,

The seed of non-paralysis

Lies in the need to share each bar,

Ensnare them in the repertoire,

Acquired, inspired and fired solo.

One would play for those that know –

That’s where share gets mixed with show.One would share the stuff you’re of,

One needs giving, getting love.

The gig may be just one night long;

Player’s voice imbibes the song.

It’s the reason birds have beaks,

Reason actors paint their cheeks,

Reason nuns are not called freaks

And climbers climb outrageous peaks:

To show and share’s a form of care;

Discovery of who you are;

A wearing off of vanity,

A learning of humility;

The royal way to get somewhere.

Why look for gigs, and time on time risk disapproval?

Bumpy lyrics, chords that stump,

Mental blocks to shock a heart that gasps to pump,

Sometimes on your frumpy rump

When you’re a grumpy, dumpy lump.

Then there’s handling cash, the boss

Without the foolishness of loss;

And gathering the strength

To stand with dignity against the length

Of lustful arms and eyes,

Seductive men and women; lies.

In some obscured and mirrored way

You need to hear the stuff you play

Through other’s ears and other’s eyes.

It’s the response that makes you wise,

The genie of the music rise.

I’m giving up the claim to fame,

(Which only means you know my name)

The thing I can’t give up’s the call,

Which means, of course, the playing hall.

Knowing, daring, going, baring,

Learning, doing, wooing, paring:

That’s the showing and the sharing:

©Showing And Sharing #3 92.11.4

Vaguely About Music; Circling Round Reality; Circling Round Vanities;

Arlene Corwin






Showing And Sharing #2


             Showing And Sharing

Kent and I, we talked it through.

“Why do we do what we do?”

We asked ourselves, (musicians both)

Why not stay at home in sloth?

Why not warble in a corner,

Trade Jack Warner for Jack Horner?

Seed of non-paralysis,

Pith of our analysis

Lay in the need to share each bar,

Ensnare them in the repertoire.

Play inspired, fired solos

For the ones who know.

That’s where ‘share’ becomes the ‘show’.

Sharing what you’re made of for the love.

The gig might just be one night long,

The player sucking on the song,

Like actors drawn to paint their cheeks,

And climbers to outrageous peaks.

To show and share’s the way to care;

Discovery of who you are;

A wearing off of vanity;

A learning of humility:

The royal way to get somewhere,

(Know that you’re there).

Why perform, risk disapproval time on time,

When bumpy lyrics, stumping chords,

Mental blocks that make you jump

Shock a heart that gasps to pump?

Why, when there’s the cash, the boss,

The telltale suffering and loss?

Why, when you must gather strength

To stand against the length

Of lustful arms and eyes,

Seductive men and women; lies?

In an obscurely mirrored way

You need to hear the stuff you play

Through someone else’s ear.

It’s their response that makes you hear,

You wise, the music rise.

Fame means they know a name, that’s all.

The thing one can’t give up’s the call:

Going, wooing, daring, baring,

Keeping fresh the non-despair,

The repertoire in good repair

Till wheelchair itself has rusted:

That’s the showing and the sharing

(In a nutshell.)



Showing And Sharing 92.11.4Vaguely About Music; The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative; Circling Round Vanities;

Arlene Corwin




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