Souvenirs

Memories –

Once upon a time Bill Smith, aka “billy lee” a Louisville poet and writer was leaving to go to Ann Arbor for school. He and his wife was moving way too much stuff to a small college dorm and had rented a moving truck. They asked me to tag along to drive eight hours or so, to help with the move. I was in the truck with another feller and Bill and his wife was in a car. He told me he would buy us dinner. So, off to we went and Bill handed me and the driver of the moving truck ten bean burritos from Taco Belle and off we went to Michigan.

Once I fired a steamboat all the way to West Virginia from Louisville, Kentucky. It took seven days to get there. Something like that.

Once upon a time, I called Sun Ra’s house in Philly, to talk with Marshall Allen about visiting him and the Arkestra. He said come on over.

Went to Philly another time and visited a Sufi mystics fellowship and read some works he wrote that were not published. Ate mung bean curry for the first time. Prayed in his mosque.

Once in NYC, I met Hunter Thompson out on the balcony of the place where a group of beat poets were giving a presentation. He stole my lighter after asking where I was from. I told him, Louavul. He said, “yep, you are.” I didn’t know who he was at the time.

Me and Mark Anthony Mulligan drove to Leitchfield, KY once for fun. He was a homeless person and songwriter, artist who loved old gas station signs. We ate at the all you can eat Chinese buffet and then went home.

Hung out with Wendell Berry once in his truck. My son rode in the back with the dogs. We talked about railroading and sheep. My Son ran off into the woods and found some old glass bottles and a turtle shell.

Went to a biker bar in the West End of Louisville with my Step-Father and Mother once. The women were supposed to tack their panties on the door if it was their first time visiting. My Mom went to the bathroom and took off her grandma panties and put them up. She was my hero. I was maybe twelve at the time.

Saved a train hobo kids life once. He was in Nashville, TN. looking to get the hell out of town. I told him he could ride my train. He was somewhat delirious and overheated and needed help. He rode my train in the second engine and drank water and slept all night with his two pit bulls. I gave him my Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.

Once upon a time, I saw Burrell Farnsley sitting with the bronze statue of his father, Mayor Charles Farnsley. He was sitting on the bench talking with his Dad, or so I found out when I asked him if he wanted a ride. He told me, “yes, let me finish talking with my Father.” Burrell used to come to a book store I worked at and bring muffins and the New York Times to the owner.

Once upon a time, in communication with Rumi translator and poet Coleman Barks, Coleman asked if, “white boys can sing the blues?” I told him that they could and that the blues were blue. He sent me a story about when he used to walk the wharf in Chattanooga, Tennessee and see people dancing on the Delta Queen Steamboat.

Was a judge in the Hobo Olympics out in Mt. Shasta, California once. Met guitar Whitey, he was an old Bo’ from back in the day. Took my son with me so he could see rebellious people. Met Utah Phillip’s Son and we played a gig in the town of Dunsmuir.

Sundi Drive

A quick Sundi drive up to the Tobacco store.

And how many bourbons could there actually be?

Straight down the buffalo trail:

Preston and east on Eastern Parkway to Hunter Thompson’s

(he ran from here like a bat outta hell) neighborhood and

Mark Anthony Mulligan’s streets. Where is he I wonder?

(a homeless angel)

The ol’ Highlands :

And I am talking Louisville, Kentucky blues shit RN.

Behind an ol haunt, in the parking lot of St. Brigid

a homeless man washes his feet from the church hose.

I say, “that’s one way to get Jesus to wash your feet brother!”

Offer a bottled water, he smiles and says, “bless you.”

I always have water in my painted pony art car for this.

Back out to the streets of this lonesome southern wanna-be town.

If you stay here you gonna get stuck here sense of place.

The long way home, through Germantown :

A line around the local little ice cream joint!

And isn’t this a fine day to dream?

I scream you scream :

The radio is playing some sentimental

open road song on the local bluegrass radio show.

A double stop twines memories from the fiddle and

these streets I have ran, explored, they know me.

I know them lamenting like the E minor chord to A minor chord.

This song is a cookie-cutter twenty-somethings bluegrass

new grass mindless recreation of the working man’s blues.

These streets are just like worn out metaphors.

Nobody goes down the dark mines around here anymore.

Mark Anthony Sings, Jefferson County

I Am Not An Influencer . . .

I am not an Influencer . . .
only here on the take.
I am not here to play a gig –
because –
we are the frogs in that e-conomy.
Share,
because that is what
we were taught as children.
Like,
because good work deserves
attention and praise.
Subscribe,
because it is
an open invitation.
As desperate as it may seem –
to live a quiet life goes against
inner workings instilled.
This is my orchard.
I offer these words like
apples, pears and wild flowers.
This music – my peaches.
These images collected were born
of many a harvest.
You are the bee to this creative
fire . . . I grow from your consumption.
Enjoy . . .
like our
lives depend
on it.
You are the thread in
the quilt that holds together
The Folk Tradition.

River Notes

I am sitting in a Super 8 hotel in Gallipolis, Ohio drinking strong coffee and listening to John Hartford. Today is Monday. I had to look the date up. Last night as I came back from the Mexican restaurant with my crew, I had a thought. I got here by Steamboat, not by road. I know we are slightly down river from the Kanawha River and tied up at the Shipyard, but that is about as far as I left knowing exactly where I am.

For a week, I fired a one hundred and six year old steamboat up the Ohio River. I fancy the idea of an escape. The thought of just leaving everything behind, all that stuff following your bliss, do whatchalike and all that jazz. I am doing that. I just did it. Crossed the threshold! I did not get out of the boat. To render just a lil’ bit more from that good old quote from a river journey movie dot, dot,dot … just as Kurtz, I split from the whole fucking program a long time ago, and so it goes, and so on, I digress often.

I have a story to tell. A river story. My idear is to write a book titled, Drift. Maybe the tale of two rivers. Maybe a tale about me, John Paul, down at Rough River, Central Kentucky hiding away during the beginning of Covid. Maybe my next book will be like Kurt Vonnegut said of Slapstick …

“This is the closest I will ever come to writing an autobiography.”

So, stick with me here. Follow this page, like. subscribe or, whatever. Some new material is coming soon. When I go back to my home port, I plan on organizing all this drift wood that I have collected over these 50 some odd years and make heads or tails out of this that and the other. Y’all come. Y’all come …

See ya on the boat …

JP Wright

Fireman, Str. Belle of Louisville

Ohio River Mile 604

Review of my book – Sabbatical of the Belle