Tag Archives: Bob Kaufman

Back To the Future ~Monterey Jazz Festival 2016 Remembering the Terror featuring “A Terror is More Certain . . . By Bob Kaufman”


Forty years ago today, large sections of South Los Angeles went up in flames. The violence and looting came to be known as the Watts riots. The chaos was a precursor to the urban unrest other cities would soon experience. In a few moments, we’ll hear from a man who continues to activism that sprang from the 1965 riots, but, first, some history. ~ Adolfo Guzman Lopez, Reporter for KPCC

Where were you when the Watts riots dropped the Tsunami of hate, violence, and most of all fear and pierced the veil of the Depression and the 50’s through the Industrial Revolution and the Information technology of Left Brainers sans the Compassion.  It was just a matter of time before the Mind-Spirit portion of our Humanness becomes awakened to the unintended consequences of miracles and breakthroughs to automate and replace people.  It has been over twenty years since Ihave been a survivor and the longer I survive the worse it gets.  People nowadays get that glazed look on their face when you say you are a survivor.  I first was in sensed because when the time came and I put my DNR into place and when it came time at 2:32 am on November 20, 2000 for me to be rolled back into the operating room and me stopping the gurney by holding onto the door frame “Wait, I have a DNR!  Where the hell are we going?”  Through her mask, “…let go, your mom rescinded it.”  “Mom, what the He** is going on?  Can’t you just let me go?  After ten excruciatingly dizzying beats, “Not Now!”

That was my Fourth Noble Truth,  that  I figured out in my memoir where using jazz improvisation techniques, mindfulness meditations and literary and visual arts have saved my life.  It was 1965 that kicked it all into motion and that is why I thought that sharing in the Freedom Beats companion would prove how I regard my breast cancer journey on a jazz lit canvas.  The memories I seem to remember were having the feeling of helplessness, fear and at eleven years old, that was some pretty deep stuff.  That is why I selected Bob Kaufman’s A Terror is More Certain  capturing how listening to Angel City Blues the song beginning light and deliberations to an absolute terror filled frenzy of destruction and loss.  What feelings do you experience when you listen?  Peace Out!

A Terror is More Certain . . .

By Bob Kaufman

A terror is more certain than all the rare desirable popular songs I
know, than even now when all of my myths have become . . . , & walk
around in black shiny galoshes & carry dirty laundry to & fro, & read
great books & don’t know criminals intimately, & publish fat books of
the month & have wifeys that are lousy in bed & never realize how
bad my writing is because i am poor & symbolize myself.

A certain desirable is more terror to me than all that’s rare. How
come they don’t give an academic award to all the movie stars that
die? they’re still acting, ain’t they? even if they are dead, it should
not be held against them, after all they still have the public on their
side, how would you like to be a dead movie star & have people sit-
ting on your grave?

A rare me is more certain than desirable, that’s all the terror, there
are too many basketball players in this world & too much progress
in the burial industry, lets have old fashioned funerals & stand
around & forgive & borrow wet handkerchiefs, & sneak out for
drinks & help load the guy into the wagon, & feel sad & make a
date with the widow & believe we don’t see all of the people sink-
ing into the subways going to basketball games & designing baby
sitters at Madison Square Garden.

A certain me is desirable, what is so rare as air in a Poem, why can’t
i write a foreign movie like all the other boys my age, I confess to all
the crimes committed during the month of April, but not to save
my own neck, which is adjustable, & telescopes into any size noose,
I’m doing it to save Gertrude Stein’s reputation, who is secretly
flying model airplanes for the underground railroad stern gang of
oz, & is the favorite in all the bouts . . . not officially opened yet
Holland tunnel is the one who writes untrue phone numbers.

A desirable poem is more rare than rare, & terror is certain, who
wants to be a poet & work a twenty four hour shift, they never ask
you first, who wants to listen to the radiator play string quartets all
night. I want to be allowed not to be, suppose a man wants to
swing on the kiddie swings, should people be allowed to stab him
with queer looks & drag him off to bed & its no fun on top of a
lady when her hair is full of shiny little machines & your a**
reflected in that television screen, who wants to be a poet if you
f**k on t.v. & all those cowboys watching.

Bob Kaufman, “A Terror is More Certain . . .” from Cranial GuitarCopyright © 1996 by Eileen Kaufman. Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press. http://www.coffeehousepress.org

Source: Cranial Guitar (Coffee House Press, 1996)

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