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Rated: GC · Book · Experience · #1510118
Welcome to the troubadour's continuing world, his poetry and the folly he calls his life!
the new header for my new blog

WELCOME, one and all
to the second volume of the troubadour's musings
(pictures into his soul)

evolution cannot tarry
new visions come starry-eyed
to everyone curious
enough to indulge
in fantasy and dreams

troubadours are muses
for the masses, singing
and frolicking gayly
although as the sunset wanes
I pray to the moon
the joy is always shared...

A HUGE THANKS to Carolina Blue — may he rest in peace — for the Brand New Blue Ribbon he awarded this new humble demeure for my musings.

And here's a newly written tribute from our dear Thomas . Thanks so much, Thomas, Master Harper.

Master Cleaver
Alfred Booth twitters -- the whole world flitters
across the daunted page -- as though upon a stage
with words so rich with meaning -- of drama's din not weaning
never failing to enthrall -- right through the curtain call
© Thomas Harper

A latest portrait, taken in Lyons before the City Hall

Check out my P.(tree)Log at the following link:
"Scattered leaves with poetic imprints"   by alfred booth, wanbli ska
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February 2, 2014 at 4:36pm
February 2, 2014 at 4:36pm
We go through life trying to make the best of things. I use so much energy just trying to survive without yelling at screaming at the people around me. People who are not responsible for my troubles.

It's been nine months now since I've been unable and unwilling to say anything about how not so good life has become for me.

I'm drowning, in solitude, in pain, in uselessness. Because I can no longer do what I have to do in this life.

I'm a musician, a poet, and a teacher, in that order. The problems with my hands (tendinitis and arthrosis of the thumbs) prohibit me from accomplishing the first two of this extremely existential list.

I try not to appear lost, and here at WDC, this means I no longer blog or participate in many activities any longer.

But I am lost. Lost in a thrashing sea of discord, ill equipped any longer to tune my life to the strings that used to make it vibrate.

Since mid-May of 2013, I've new neighbors living underneath me who respect no polite codes of conduct while living in a community of 15 apartments. It's been since then that I have not slept any more than three or four nights per week without insomnia due to the stress of wondering whether or not their noise will be right under my bed, the interrupted sleep two hours after I fall asleep, etc. etc.

There is no dialog with these people and their landlord is at wit's end to make them understand that they are not the center of the universe which has my street address.

My recent promise to go to the police has seemed to have had a few days effect, and I've had four solid night's sleep and three afternoon naps. But I am not yet counting the eggs of these sick chicken neighbors to hatch into anything other than continued problems.

This, added with the strain on my hands, means that my body is no longer relaxing at night so that the work I do regularly with my physical therapists to lessen the pain and muscle tension can produce results.

They call this sleep deprivation. And that coupled with an already existing pathology which cripples me emotionally is testing all of my limits.

At Christmas I kind of cracked up, resulting in the next four weeks of almost continuous migraines. My PT got to the root of the physical problems only two weeks ago, and I'm starting to have more days without pain than with.

I'm exhausted all the time and I don't have much more energy to fight.

Welcome back to Blogsville.

I won't come back soon to complain again.
But I don't know when life will grace me with something positive to chat about.
May 6, 2013 at 5:23pm
May 6, 2013 at 5:23pm
I have started this way for each of my previous entries

WDC tells me it's been 160-odd days since my last post.
Yikes! That's almost six months. A lot can happen in six months.
Unfortunately, my life is filled to the brim with routine efforts.
Very circular, don't you think.
"time creeps like the birth of a star
runs like a waterfall after the winter melt
I count its passing
in peaceful nights if sleep permits
and smiles
from total strangers on the street"


Excuses? Wrist tendinitis, although I've continued to write poetry and have started a haiku-a-day for 2013.
AlmostHaikuPoems // 365 Haiku  (18+)
My evolving project for 2013 and 2014 is to write and post here one poem each day.
#1911105 by alfred booth, wanbli ska

I've been content having less problems at the piano so am slowly working my way through a bit more repertoire and discovering many smaller pieces that I can still play. Not perform as I still have problems with professional rapidity, but play well enough to have the sensation that I'm getting beyond the scales and exercises weeks that last lasted for too long now. Almost two years.
But my endurance has never gone farther than 90 minutes twice or thrice a week. 75 minutes on a regular basis is all my hands tolerate any more. The "good days" cannot be predicted.

And the real depression surrounding this state is no fun to deal with. I speak rarely of it to Pierre and he rarely asks.
And I won't blog here about it.
That I guess is why I have been absent for so long.


My teaching is not interesting for others and although I adore my job, talking about it, even to those closest to my daily life, always gives me the impression that I'm abusing their time.

I still haven't found the magical combination of sea,sex and sun that might make my blog a best-seller!
( no, I haven't really been trying! )
"in a crowded high-speed train
a man dressed in elegance rolls up
an expensive leather jacket
stuffing it into the overhead luggage rack

maybe everything I observe about him
is fake..."


So here I am.
I won't hide missing the former blogging community here. ( I say that often lately - not highly original. )
But my hand energies go first to the piano. Often I don't take the risk aggravating my wrists further by writing excessively.
Today everything has been fine, but today there was writing this blog entry instead of tickling the ivories.
Promises to return? Probably not. Not as frequently as I once did.
No more blue months for me in this blog. I reserve that for my book of haiku.
"once a month
like my regular tryst under the covers
I return to your blinking light
"incoming message"
there is little warmth in your silence
I sense your presence
like massage oiled fingerprints
together we laugh

that's quite enough between virtual strangers"

I don't philosophize, extrapolate, speak regularly about politics or religion.
I read few enough books ( most lately seem to be in French...) and am not in the habit of discussing the finer points of why I liked what I read. My only criteria seems to be that I am entertained briefly.
That the author's words do not bore me.
So there will be no book reviews here. Although if any of you have come across the Belgian author Amélie Nothomb, she is an excellent author.
Television does the same thing. I seek quick diversion.
I have never found a interest in internet games. And my wrists would not allow me to play for hours on end, whatever the game.

I have just returned from five days in Lyon with Pierre. ( I began writing this in the train. )
Where I caught a huge cold, with extremely irritated throat that has left me quasi voiceless.
There were torrential rains, happy skies but being further south than chez moi, springtime has invaded the city. And that was worth the train ride! And being under the weather.

Pierre has a wonderful 12-year old Whiskey that got "wasted" on several hot toddies which only momentarily helped relieve the pain in my throat.
I know what some are thinking. "One per hour and you'll be so high you won't notice the pain."

"to forget for an hour
the ticking of eternity
or the numbness of an empty heart
although I smile when you're around
our minutes together count
as raindrops in the desert
or sandbags trying to stop
a flood
of emotions I sometimes wish
I could forget"


I need to decide immediately if I will take two days off work at the end of the month to go to Cologne for the commemorative service for my father's first cousin who married a German a little over fifty years ago and had three wonderful daughters whom I have not seen for many years. MaryBeth died recently of complications with colon cancer which spread too far. A wonderful woman who always treated me as one of the family, one of HER family.

I really can't afford to take the time off from teaching at that moment because ten days later I'm having my 4-hand workshop concert where 12 students will be performing 15 pieces for four or six hands. And with the conservatory planning, it is almost impossible to reserve a classroom for make-up rehearsals.

I probably won't go. I don't like added complications getting in the way of the harmony of my work weeks.

After three episodes of "The Closer" ( season 7 ) I have finally decided it is not wise to go to Germany this month.
There is a possibility of joining the family later in June or July when they go through all of MaryBeth's possessions.

November 25, 2012 at 1:36pm
November 25, 2012 at 1:36pm
sublimely ridiculous
today was a beautiful sunny day
I had nothing to do, so a bit of piano learning a colleague’s new score
a long nap, a load of laundry
and as I watched the sun set and realized I’d wasted a day
this immense sadness settled over me
and I don’t know how to make it snap

the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
men aren’t supposed to cry
we’re not supposed to be weak, nor wear our hearts on our sleeves

but how do we deal with utter loneliness even though there are other human beings in our lives?

there is rarely anything interesting on the TV on Sundays
I wanted to go out walking in the sunshine today, but it wasn’t a day
for being alone among the crowds there would have been because of the lovely weather

how do I get through five more hours of waking before turning in?
how I wish I never had hepatitis that left my liver in stitches. I’d get drunk real quick right now

today, it would be very painful for me to read anything published because I won’t get involved in the story, I’ll only be aware of how well the author writes and how much more I have to learn to be able to do as well

so I’m listening to sad music on repeat mode
and Gao is upset because I’m upset

is a place

I miss Christmas, American style
I miss the closeness I remember at this time of the year
the linking between my family and myself

my parents are dead, and my sister has her own family now
I have a cat
and a part-time lover who is rarely capable of making me feel alive
I wish for a fully decorated tree, garlands and decorations
lights blinking on my balcony, a tour through any well-decorated neighborhood
with snow on the ground
and starlight in my heart

dreams (are for everyone)
yeah I’m in a bleak space
today I feel like I’m living out someone else’s nightmare
an ordinary stationary life filled with little promise
except getting older

my back feels OK, since I made the appointment for the MRI
I really wouldn’t want to be a hypochondriac but I do wonder why it’s been a relatively good week when my back has been my own private living hell for months now

I feel like I’m cracking up and that there is nothing much on the inside that’s going to spill out
and there is no one around to glue me back together, like humpty dumpty
even if the pieces are big enough for a two-year-old’s jigsaw

I am no one’s king
nor prince

I so wanted to be hopelessly in love
to experience that one bonding that keeps hearts high for a lifetime

November 18, 2012 at 5:58am
November 18, 2012 at 5:58am
sublimely ridiculous
I am not a duck, nor do I quack
flutter or ruffle when wet, spike my head underwater
to find brine and other inedible junk
yet my feet throw up rain water as I walk
as a duck’s feet paddle underneath him
going from point A to point B
his short legs are never drenched like mine
perhaps our self-propelling movements are similar
but I still lack feathery down to keep me dry


the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
no change
there is still (yet again) rain, a drain on good
humor, laughter or childish splashing
I trudge through wet leaves, they stick
to my water-logged shoes, no umbrella keeps
them dry, I spy another puddle, imagine
I’m kin to a friend’s collection of English Mallards
I’ll crunch crackers in soup for lunch
if I ever feel warm again


the problem with rainy days
is that clouds hide the sunlight and
our imagination of blue skies cum everything’s
o-Kay --- decent setting suns rarely happen
a tragic non-surprise
since wetness
washes away its arrival


is a place

do mortal thunderstorms occur
at the gates of heaven
spoiling eternity
(and a good night’s sleep)


dreams (are for everyone)
the day was rainy
must have been late fall, or early spring as I have
no recollection of leaf color, or patterns dead ones
would make on the ground, naked branches are always
a part of my visual field, I’m strange that way

the tea shop was open, I went in and splurged
(calories and pocket book)
on five delicious looking desserts
and a pot of Lapsang Souchang

perhaps the rainy Sunday afternoon had her prices
escalate from week-day mornings when I often went
to her cozy comfort to sooth the aches in my joints
after a long walk… that being said,
I did indeed pay her a hundred dollars for the meal
but I woke in a cold sweat
before I tasted chocolate, brandied creams
or strawberries

strangeness at the bakery

October 14, 2012 at 10:12am
October 14, 2012 at 10:12am
sublimely ridiculous
thirty-one days of silence
meditating on a distant rock
deciphering the signs
on the unstable horizon
the only music was regret
spun by spiders on mossy ledges
found in cloudburst beyond
the limits of my soul


the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
does not jingle in my pockets
but feeds my eyes as storms
blow in, elongate the night
hide humanity's sunray smiles
days come and go, resembling
dominos aligned and ready
to fall, leaves crackle
in colorful displays, temporary
and fleeting
some friends write of snow
dressed in bright rain wear
I'll wait for the scarves and wool
of that change...


stardust, the flame
of lover's quests, moonlight
chocolate and paired wine cups
these dreams touch some
with their freedom and lightness
of being whisked from solitude
others, clothed in hand-me-downs
spend too many hours waiting


is a place

I have not yet come to this place
where I can sleep peacefully on beaches
of fine sand, or pearls churning gently
like a mother's lullaby
those were songs I no longer hear
even in the unconscious moments
that are closest to this oasis


dreams (are for everyone)
underfoot, when my naked feet
touch indoor comfort, a bit of tenderness
returns, turbulent sensations I had forgotten
the woven patterns of silk or fine wool
carpets pad the pain of her loss
thicken my footsteps even when they go
no further than they ever did


September 12, 2012 at 1:31pm
September 12, 2012 at 1:31pm
sublimely ridiculous
because the snowman melted
and left a pile of salt
he wasn't inanimate
emotions never are...


the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
swallows have disappeared
when, I don't seem to remember
but the skies are spotless, except
on rare occasions, when larger birds
sweep down to drink raindrops


his lily white skin
soft, sans wrinkles, like fine satin
was uncommon for a dying eighty-year-old
his tales, though, were macabre
politely monologed, with perfect diction
until his last victim arrived
and turned his skin to leather
with the bite of stronger lies

homage to amélie nothomb

is a place

do not come here
on a lark
this is a place of magic
where candles burn all night
to keep demons from our dreams

I listen
as the pure-of-heart chant
all of love's follies
and even when I shared my dreams
I never knew
these words


dreams (are for everyone)
I have explored this place
for safety reasons
there are no bisons in the fields
rivers only trickle, the lake is thirsty
rocks glitter in strange vibrations
I have never witnessed elsewhere
dry and flaking, they moan
bewitching the wind
that has no more tears


September 11, 2012 at 1:07pm
September 11, 2012 at 1:07pm
sublimely ridiculous
Rain and Tchaikowsky.
Grey and melancholy.
Wet and emotional.
Gentle and unhampering.
The season: close to autumn. The music: The Seasons.
Only two of the twelve (yes, I know the work should be called The Months) strain my hand and I avoid.)

the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
The new armchairs were delivered very early yesterday morning.

Gao was very frustrated he couldn't play with the delivery men while they unpacked the very-well-wrapped chairs.

I had to screw on the legs. Short, squat wooden legs.
I don't sit well in crane legged chairs.

Spent time reading (in French) the Belgian author Amélie Nothomb's first novel "Hygiene and the Assassin." It's a brilliant book and I'm half-way through to the end.

The armchairs are comfortable, but the armrests are fairly high and I have a tendency to scrunch up my shoulders. I'll have to learn not to do that. What good is a better sitting position for my lower back if it creates problems for my shoulders?

Also spent lots of time on internet last night looking for new scores, either in the free download domain, or new contemporary ones I'll have to pay for. Found lots of both, so have new PDFs for me to print out and at least 150€ of scores I'd like to have, but in reality I'll never have the physical endurance to sit at the piano for hours learning new scores. But new scores are what might motivate me the quickest to get back into a regular practicing schedule, even if I have to choose things that offer no strain to my hands.

Now, to place these scores in some sort of priority order and buy them either online or order them (if I discover they will be cheaper) from my local music store.

In my searches, I've found a new American composer, Ricky Ian Gordon and an incredible pianist Anthony de Mare, who is in the process of creating a new series of concerts called "The Liasons Project", based on commissioned scores for the piano, revisiting Stephen Sondheim songs and written by 36 of the current top classical composers.

is a place

I get teary-eyed very easily listening to younger piainsts succeed in the type of music I play well.
Here's Anthony de Mare playing Gordon's "Every Day a Little Death."

dreams (are for everyone)
Gao dreams all the time. His paws, tail and whiskers all twitches. His eyes are rarely 100% closed and many times he rolls his eyeballs back like one would do having a seizure.

He dreams all the time. He naps a lot too. Maybe he likes dreaming, like I do, and that is one reason he sleeps so much.

Lately my dreams are not to be remembered. I turned in too late last night and slept fitfully. As I spent the latter part of the evening in discovery mode, maybe it was logical that my dreams were agitated.

No. They had nothing to do with Indiana Jones.
Too bad.

September 9, 2012 at 4:11pm
September 9, 2012 at 4:11pm
sublimely ridiculous
once again the orange bath towel
is the barrier between a naked body
and the unshaded windows looking onto the night...

the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
Scene. His living room.
(the piano, a Yamaha upright of a certain quality, but not too great, sits not with the sound board at the wall, but with the keyboard such that the pianist sits with his back to the wall as he plays, practices, performs...)

(as he is seated at the piano, there is a window on the wall to his right, almost flush with the piano's back. So, the piano is nestled into a corner. The window, facing north, and the keyboard wall, perpendicular to the apartment's outside north wall.)

(one notes that the piano does not touch the north wall, there is a heating pipe running the length of it, and indeed behind the seat of our pianist. Heating pipes can, and frequently to, dry up the humidity of the sound board and can eventually crack it...)

(backed up to the sound board of the piano, as close as one can get to the window to allow a half opening of the right-hand side of the French window, is a small bookcase.
This bookcase is irrelevant to our story.)

(Two armchairs adorn the piano. One, close to the bookcase, but not touching it, has its back to the piano's sound board. The other is set close to the window, in a fashion so that the two armchairs are at right angles to each other. Neither armchair touches the bookcase; neither the one with its back to the window, nor the one whose back touches the piano.)

New armchairs arrive tomorrow morning.

Would you like me to help you move the old ones to other rooms so that the movers can place them in their new positions close to the piano?

That would be lovely Corinne.

(the actors mime moving one old armchair into the bedroom and the other into the back writing room with its northwestern window. They part happily and the pianist begins vaccuumming the room.)

Might as well move the junk between the bookcase and the piano's armchair. Hell, might as well move the junk that was between the front of the bookcase and the armchair at the window.

No problem, he says to the cat. I'll put it into your favorite Desigual bag, tomorrow we'll find a new home for it.

Damn, the bag must weigh 25 kilos!
There goes my back.
And three hours later, it's still lopsided.

The pianist had no idea books, notebooks filled with poetry and other magazines and perishables that should be put into a bookcase could weigh so much.

And he reminds himself daily, when this or that movement doubles him up in pain, that he is no longer 2O years old.

movers delivering new furniture
give clients and "either morning
(yes, that can be as early as eight)
or afternoon" time zones

an intelligent soul prepares
to be disturbed very early in the morning...

is a place

the old, brocaided armchairs
offered little comfort for aging backs
the new generation will have firm cushions
covered in fake leather
and will give off the new smell
for several weeks...

and sitting for hours
with a good book
or silly television passtime
will regain definite pleasures

dreams (are for everyone)
twice I have dreamed
about gold statues that represent
the recesses of the idioms
that make me scared to ask...

September 7, 2012 at 5:54am
September 7, 2012 at 5:54am
sublimely ridiculous
the orange bath towel
fluffy and thick, worthy of a Hollywood shot
becomes feline property
if I forget to properly hang it to dry


the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
at two a.m.
love is hard to reconcile
with snoring bed partners


creatures of habit
do not fare well when specialty grocery shops
change their menus for the worst...
...nothing in the bag can be microwaved


is a place

I am not alone collecting
photographs of desert islands
isolated architect's houses
calm zen-filled gardens
or post-card perfect sunsets —
there are millions of us
who share this dream
of getting away
to nowhere we know yet


dreams (are for everyone)
she asked us to say random words
each word generated an image
eagle for god, turtle for love
a barren tree for companionship
I watched as her magic machine built
small hand-holdable sculptures
of pure gold, each image incrusted
as a mobile representing a soul

I did not dare to ask for mine


September 5, 2012 at 11:43am
September 5, 2012 at 11:43am
sublimely ridiculous
Give my GaoCat a small plastic cap from a juice carton and he's happy for hours. There are at least 20 of them dispersed in various corners of the house, inside reusable grocery bags, behind doors, behind the laundry basket, everywhere.

But, he's a happy cat. Even happier when he gets something to eat...

the ho-hum doldrums
(formerly: reality)
The weather is glum today. It was supposed to be sunny. There's a thick wool blanket imitating the sky. And the breeze is cool. And I have a blister on one of my little toes because the sandals, after two years, have decided to rub wrong.

Sandals are NOT inanimate objects. The right one has a mind of its own.

And I have no more pain pills (stiff neck and shoulders that two hours out shopping didn't relax (I guess my taste for spending money (over 100€) is not as relaxing as I once thought it.)) nor special band-aids for blisters. I'm too pooped to go back out to the pharmacy.

No, I'm not going to tell you all I bought.
(Hint: part of it was for the printer...)
(Mind you that was a third of the expense...)

As I was returning home, I passed by the noisy neighbor's door as the adolescent boy, who probably has enough attitude problems that he is the one who bangs the doors, was leaving. I stared him down good and I'm sure he knows by know that I'm the one complaining about the noise. He did, bless his heart, look appropriately sheepish.

When I was one flight down, he came out a first time, banged the door, realized someone was coming up the stairs and then went in, closed the door to come out just as I was in front of his door. It was obvious that he had no desire to carefully close the door, but did so as he was being observed.

Go figure.

I have unfortunately not heard from the owner concerning my letter complaining about the noise.

is a place

...where I don't have to go on and on about noisy neighbors who have no sense of civil correctness.

There are many people nowadays, in every corner of the world, who have no idea what it is to be considerate of strangers, much less people who live in the same building...

I will shut up now.
Until the next time.

dreams (are for everyone)
With the exception of our dearest Lady Scarlett who always stops by my blog and leaves a lovely comment, my little snarky poems were quite flops yesterday.

Maybe I should start chasing bottle caps around the apartment and limber up my strained sense of expectations...

Great, they are no longer...
You'll remark that this is the fifth day.
Although what happens at the cosmic level on the Fifth Day is unknown to me...

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