Way back in 1978, when I was but three years of age, my uncle spun his copy of 'Lodger' on the turntable. I'll never forget that moment - young as I was, as from the second I heard the strings of 'Yassassin', that was it, I had been initiated into the realms of modern music. It was the first song, the first melody, the first recognition of music that I recall, and although I didn't know it at the time, it was to change my life, forever.
I write this preface to my poem, as it's necessary to spell out the motivation behind it. The protagonist, the spell-weaver, was my mother's younger brother, Farehk. Born seventeen years before me in 1958, he had witnessed first hand Bowie's 1976 Station To Station tour at the Wembley Empire Pool, as well as the subsequent Low/Heroes tour at Earl's Court 1978. These were defining moments in his life, and he was to pass the spell on to me, unknowingly, on that fateful day in 1978... in our living room in Stockwell SW9, where 'we tried' to grow up.
On 5th November 1998, my uncle turned 40. The previous year when Bowie turned 50 was still fresh in my memory, and so was born the inspiration of my gift to Farehk. A homage and appreciation by way of a poem, that utilised a collage of Bowie's lyrics to narrate what Farehk meant to me whilst I grew up without a father. He more than compensated, just by 'being'...
"Yassassin, I'm not a moody guy"
...though some would argue that I am
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.
FAREHK @ 40
Sits like a man, but smiles like a reptile
Looks like a 'gator, but just for a short while
Is he a prophet or a stoneage man?
Or just a mortal with potential of a superman?
As I passed along the stairs
I saw him sitting there
I was stone and he was wax
So he could scream and still relax
Looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a 4x4
Never knowing when to stop... but always when to rock
On his hands and knees he cried and crawled
"If you take an axe to me, you'll kill another man, not me at all!"
Somewhat slightly dazed
I asked for a reason
I asked for a ride
I prayed for that 'geezer' that was born in '58 and cried
He asked for my name and I gave him a dangerous smile
"I thought you died alone, a long long time ago?"
"Who me? Oh no, I've always been around
From then, till now... I've just never been found"
He'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'll blow our minds
"So for now", he says, "Don't set me free, I'm as crazy as can be
Just my Nad-i-a and me
And the R.C.P. makes three"
So I'd rather stay here, with this old madman
'Cause I'm quite sure he's just as sane as me
He laughed and quipped "Well done Imran
I'll make a star of you yet, my son"
We talked, as the guns shot over our heads
But every time I thought we got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
That's why I'm glad that we're strangers when we meet
Like a portrait in flesh, I cried...
"I'm scared and I'm lonely
But I'm glad that you're older than me
Makes me feel important and free" (We want you big brother)
"They've been Telling Lies"
He spoke of rumours and lies, and stories they made up
"Always crashing in the same cars
'Cause there's always been life on Mars!"
A crack in the sky, and a hand reaching down to me
"My God, is it true?"
"Yes", he said, "God's a young man too"
"I guess Homo Sapiens 'have' outgrown their use?"
The truth... lets in loose, hard to swallow
So I'll lock away my childhood, and throw away the key
'Cause I've been here 10 times or more
And I'm still up on the 11th floor (Watchin' the liars below)
Just then she came down, like a Rock 'n' Roll suicide
Out-frowned a starman, screwed up eyes and screwed down hair
"I'll split your pretty craniums, and fill 'em full off air
Tell you that your 40, but Earthlings you won't care!"
It sucked our dormant wills
But we're happy... hope your happy too?
We've lived all we've needed live
Give us steel, give us steel, give us pulses unreal
The times they are a telling, and the changing isn't free
I'm bored of sound + vision, but then again that's me
When it's good, it's really good, but when it's bad it's such a tease
For knowledge only ever comes... with death's release.
9th March 2003.
TO CLOSE WINDOW