More about Pat Speer than you probably want to know
At left: a recent photo of me smooching on my girlfriend in Joshua Tree National Park..
The photo below was taken in December, 1988, and depicts a typical holiday celebration at my former place of employment. The employees would find an abandoned car in the neighborhood, smash it to pieces, and then forklift it out to the street to be towed away. Good fun. That's me in black. The madman on top? That's Mike Inez, who would go on to play bass for Ozzie Osbourne, Alice in Chains, and Heart.
Alligator Boy was written when I was in my early 20s. I was feeling isolated and was fairly angry at the world. Somewhere along the line I'd read about circus freaks, and was appalled to find that people with bad skin conditions were once put on display and billed "Alligator Girl," "Alligator Man", etc. I tried to understand how this might feel. I brought the poem into an advanced level college course just to see what the response would be. Well, the girl assigned to explicate the poem didn't quite get it. Which is what I expected. But after she spoke another woman chimed in and told the class my poem had deeply affected her, and that she had spent her whole week-end crying as a result. This unnerved me a bit. It was one thing to be angry at the world, and to try to spin this anger into art, but I couldn't bare to think I was making people sad.
Spread out among the reptiles,
I slither as I slide.
Don't dare to think me "man."
I'm not the same...
Others are inhuman--
They strike at what they please.
But me I'm damned to display to man
I'm something just "diseased."
Just "diseased"--a curse.
For if it weren't for my disguise I'd show them something
When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, I, like so many, was hopeful that some real and lasting changes would follow. Within a few years it became clear that my hopes had been misplaced.
"Let's seize the day" our hero cries,
as he slides into the stirrups.
But his horse is sick,
our future's stalled,
The Aftermath was written when I was in my late thirties, shortly after my best friend's six-year old son died from a previously undiagnosed heart ailment. I was surrounded by people who were just crushed, and I slowly came to realize that I, too, had been crushed. I realized that my whole life had been a fruitless attempt at controlling nature. I decided instead to embrace the chaos that is life, quit fighting the mourning, and accept death. I decided to "jump into the river and swim." These words came to me on a long walk. (One can read more about the little boy whose life and death made such an impact here.)
But now I see my mistake:
instead of cutting leaves with scissors,
I oughta cut scissors with leaves,
and leave "leave"
Requiem for the Living was a song that came to me after watching the movie "Iris." It is the last song on my self-produced and home-recorded CD. At one point I received a random email asking me to submit my inspirational poetry into a contest. I submitted the lyrics to "requiem" as a joke, but received a response saying it had been selected for publication and that I could buy the book in which it was published for only 50 bucks!
Requiem for the Living
Stand tall, out in the light
for soon the night descends.
Just sing, and you will write
a song that never ends.
Sing out, and watch your words
spread out across the sky,
upon the wings of birds
whose songs will never die.