From the vast fund of KPFA’s radio archives comes a jewel not heard since 1974: BLUE RAGS, a program written, produced and performed by Beat poet David Meltzer (who also composed the music). Published as a book by Berkeley’s Oyez Press in 1974, BLUE RAGS is subtitled “For Radio, / A Romance.” It’s a brilliant, playful piece, experimenting with language but also moving into areas of deep awareness. Its “Pre Face” ends—you can hear Meltzer’s playful intonation, his short breaths, his Brooklyn Jewish charm—
Wind bags turn into flags.
Tatter. Color fades. Outside too long.
I expect another day.
Several sections are titled “Radio.” Here is one. I believe that the “typos” are intentional and part of the piece’s meaning.
Y: Blue grey over you.
Impossible to tell you anything.
You know it all, you know.
H: I know nothing or why would I sit
Asking you to tell me something I want to know.
Y: I’m the person who is always asleep.
Not one to asks question of.
Because I talk in my sleep I am not an oracle.
I know nothing.
I’ve read all your books.
I’ve heard you speak before crowds.
Everyone agrees you are the wisest of all.
Y: I slept through it all. That’s what I’m telling you.
I slept throught it all. That’s the truth.
I know nothing.
It is all radio & television.
Peace talks. Watergate. Fuel Crisis.
Julius & Ethel Rosenberg.
A mountain of rose petals.
What’s left of Brooklyn.
Nothing to hold on to.
Easy as pie.
Dust is the song.
Dust on all the coleus.
Floor to floor walls.
Record on the turntable.
Sonny Rollins. 1958.
It isnt all over.
There can never be.
Dust is what a time machine coughs back.