Philip Metres


—an indie rock band, 1989-1999

Sometimes I feel shambly
in a sort-of glorious way,
when it takes two false starts

to lift my eyelids, I taste
like an ashtray, and can't see
in the general smoke and trees.

Sometimes I don't know
where I'm going, sometimes I do
and stand still, wait for

the show to start. Sometimes,
an aging ponytailed
hippie wants to hang, offers

a baked potato, then steps up
to the drums on the knee-high stage
when SM and Spiral Stairs

start tuning down. Sometimes
I sing forklift. Sometimes
something is stained and it's not

my fault, sometimes it is. Sometimes
Chesley's little wrists, sometimes
Loretta's scars. Sometimes

summer babe, sometimes debris slide.
Sometimes Westing by musket
or sextant, sometimes secret knowledge

of backroads. In the morning light,
I hold that ashtray tight. I have
a song in me. And it sounds

like my '82 Chevy
right after it got me home,
the day before it died:

laht daht da-da                    laht dot dot
laht daht da-da                    laht dot dot.




This poem is for Jim Doppke, soul brother and co-conspirator in the bedroom band "Wrist"—for all the indie rock tapes, sonic missives to the mind. When in Moscow, he sent the bootleg Pavement EP on tape, including "Secret Knowledge of Backroads," and it arced over my stark skyscraper solitude. Pavement is known as the progenitor of "slacker rock," a movement with no followers. Also: SM is Steve Malkmus, lead singer, and Spiral Stairs is the guitarist for Pavement. Many of the song titles become lines for this poem.