A Little BLISS Goes A Long Way

Last year I released a very special work of poetry that I had “co-written” with my dear friend Rhonda Rae Holcombe.  We had always dreamed of releasing a poetry book together, grouped by topics and viewing those topics from two perspectives through verse.  That was the idea.  I wrote a huge amount of “poetry” when I was younger.  Some of it was good.  But the concept of what we were trying to do was bigger than the actual quality of the verse.

Support Suicide Awareness and SEE THE BELLWETHERS at Music United Against Teen Suicide September 4th.  Click Link for details.

Then Rhonda took her own life.

Her father, Leonard, who I lovingly refer to as Pops, entrusted me with a small, red, child’s suitcase.  It had two blonde twins holding hands on the front, and the words Going Places were printed above them.  Inside, were scraps of my friend’s heart, left on bits of paper, backs of receipts, filled notebooks: everything my friend had written all collected in a heap of multicolored papers and inks.


I spent weeks going through all of it, and my own work, to make the book that we had always dreamed we would create.  It is called Kindred Spirits & Mirrored Souls, and all of Rhonda’s portion of the royalty is donated to Arizona Suicide Charities.


Now, I brought that up, because in my own humble opinion, the best poem I have ever written is in that book.  It is called The Myth of Understandable Absolutes.  I wrote it on a balcony on the North West corner of the ASU campus, drinking coffee one Thursday, waiting to meet my friend to head to Long Wong’s to watch Stephen Ashbrook play.  I had just completed reading Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, and my mind was exploding.  Here is the section of the poem I am referring to:

Soap Box Sunday

Yet, just to title this is to deny myself.

I have to create.

But to stand up here on a box – is to take a step back

But is the reversal the same distance as the gain?

I listen to music… it says the most profound things

I find inspiration… I think we’re on our way…

Then I watch the Grammy’s –

Why don’t we listen to ourselves?

Then again, Who am I to Question the Universe?

So maybe you… yes, YOU… know the answers

Should I stop this?  Should I be content?

Should I be tranquil in my journey – And just Be?

Should I ignore the troublesome – And just write more Stories?

(But…. isn’t questioning the only way to know?)

So is this preaching? Or is it sharing?

Maybe then it’s okay.

Even the Buddha wrote – he shared – he told

So he must have had some desire, if nothing but to help

But if desire is an anchor – How could he be free?

And if Christ hadn’t spoken – How could his message be learned?

So as we go… we leave a map for others.

If this map is a good thing – this guide that we leave behind

Then is desire without ego not bad?

Maybe, it’s when we stop and say that we are Full.

We can’t learn any more.  We are ready to spew Forth!

And give the World all of Our Secrets

(If You can’t learn any more – What Are YOU Still Here For?)

I guess, then, that I Really Don’t Know Anything.

Get to the point, Mr. Clark!

Tangents, my friends, lead to understanding.  Allow one more aside before I get to the Honey Shakin!


Imagine if the Guru, the Great Benefactor, the Wise Shaded One, on the right…. had never stopped being the revolutionary on the left.  This is the point of the poem.  Once we stop writing and sharing in wonder, and awe, in true sadness, and real pain about the human condition we as poets are both blessed and cursed to reflect through our writing and our art…. We fail.  We find that Soap Box, and lose our message.  The good that we try to do can be traced to all of the hypocrisies that fund it.  And we lose our way.

The third album from Carol Pacey & the Honeyshakers, BLISS, brings this analogy to the fore, and we as rockers, revelers, human beings sharing in our connections, find that once upon a time true voice.  That voice that pings like a tuning fork with genuineness, with goodness, and dare I say, love.

BLISS – The Ghostwriter Review

If Romance is Dead Then I Want to be Dead Too : Some years ago I introduced a friend of mine to Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers and his first comment was, “Wow he crams a lot of words in there!  He is really clear, and surprisingly fast.”  This is true, and also true of Carol Pacey.  Some of the lines in these songs require the vocal clips of a Micro Machines Television Commercial, and you really have to listen carefully to be able to unpack everything she is shakin at you.  Like honey kisses.  But these honey kisses are “so deep {you} can’t breathe, but a dream of a kiss is not all that {you} need.  {You} need it all.  {You} want it all.”  And you can imagine Carol giving it all, laying it out like a filleted heart on the floor, to share that idealistic dream with you.  And you are rockin and dancin and scootin across the floor dancing to rekindle dreams that are all too easily ignored and forgotten.

Caged Dead Birds : Do you love Maya Angelou?  Do you know why the Caged Bird sings?  I do.  So does Carol.  So should you.  “Shame on those who try to tear us down.  And shame on those who sell away our crowns.  Shame on those who revel in defeat.  And shame on those who celebrate deceit.  Endure no more, say goodbye to our innocent souls.  Endure no more and embrace our rebel roles.  Endure no more and our lives will soon rebound.  Endure no more, say hello to our freedom found.”  Preach Carol!  BUT – it’s not.  She is not preaching.  She is dancing with you.  She is pouring honey into your soul because she is ONE with you.  And you can feel it.  It is not a Soap Box Sunday.  It is a young Irish rebel singing, “Where I grew up there weren’t many trees.  The ones there were, we tore down and used on our enemies.”

Photo Credit: Blushing Cactus Photography

Crumb : Hell hath no fury… like a honey tongued writer who hath been scorned.  So hey, Honey, “little darling, a crumb for you…. The truth is it’s you, that you’re the broken one, Making it so easy for everyone.  It’s because you want it so badly, to believe that you are lovable, To give someone your heart and soul, and for them to see you as beautiful.”  But, dear readers, an aside, an example if you will of the power of poetry and the reason music can be a powerful medium.  My wife deals with a lot.  There should probably be a support group for the spouses of artists consumed.  Perhaps that support group is BLISS and Carol Pacey is just singing with you, letting the honey return to your burns.  But here is the magic…. the song speaks to me too.  And twists into honey for my wounds.  It is specific enough to have a theme, a point, a silver tongued message dripping with sweetness and pain…. but, like the best of poetry…. it is applicable to many.  And it speaks.


Whisper My Name :  Andy Borunda is one hell of a guitar player.  I have spent zero time talking about him up until now, but it is tracks 3 and 4 where all of a sudden my ear pounds through my meditations on lyrics and says, “Holy shit!  Andy can play!”

Photo Credit: Ray Squared Productions

And his lead guitar pairs so fantastically beautiful with Carol’s honeycomb words laced with nectar.  I find myself by the middle of this record sitting in a hole, next to my beloved friend Rabbit, honey dripping from my mouth, my fingers, my ears and my soul saying….

I must be going now….

And being unable – nor willing – to leave.  I just want more of that Hunny.

Bliss (The Dead Cat Song) : I have a lot of dead cats.  So do you.  So do all of us.  Robert told us that they were not all grey.  They come in all sizes and shapes, long hair and short.  Garfields and Heathcliffs.  Lovecats creeping in the dark of our hearts.  And we think on them, whatever they are, and however they have treated us, and we can imagine telling them, “it wasn’t sunshine in my eyes.  It wasn’t sunshine in my blue, blue eyes.  It wasn’t sunshine in my eyes rather it was you that got me thinking I could do anything.”  And cats die.  And sometimes they arrive.  And whether they mark us with smiles or frowns… they bring us the bliss of belief.  They bring us Sunshine.


Add it Up (The Violent Femmes Cover):

NUFF SAID.  Carol and Andy OWN this song.  Remember when Trent Reznor said, “That’s his song now, he owns it”, of Johnny Cash singing Hurt?  Yeah Mr. Gano, step up!

Plan B : I went to college.  I had a full ride to the University of Arizona that I was not mentally, or emotionally ready to use, and I lost it.  I floundered for awhile, and then finally landed at Arizona State University dead set on being the best English teacher Arizona had ever seen.  I incurred a whole bunch of student loans.  Don’t judge.  Politics invade our lives like a cancer, and it sucks, but it is true.  It would be nice if we had Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite back to stop us from hating each other.  Anyway, President Obama had protections against the predatory lending of banks making people hands-over-fist rich off of the pain of people like me.  President He-Who-Is-Unmentionable and his side pony witch Devos did away with those protections.  Yesterday my wages were garnished.  My checks have gone from approx 1100 to 300 in less than 3 weeks.  But Carol was singing to my soul, and even in yesterday’s darkness, I shared this BLISS with my mother, and we laughed a lot, and cried very little.  Because my friends, “You better start now, start making your plans.  You better think about what it is before you Can’t.  You need to think about all what you have done, what you’ve dreamed of and what would give you some Fun.  Because before you know it, things are going to change and you’ll Find yourself in a life you can’t arrange.  You think there’s all the time in the world, but then You’re stuck without much luck.  Well then you’re pretty much…. {phu-ked}.  Forget what you “know”.  The future is NOW!

I’m Gone (Stupid Clown) : You know, I am 45.  I work early mornings, and my wife works long hours during the day.  I am usually conscious for about 2 – 3 hours when she gets home before I turn into a pumpkin.  And she watches her shows, tries to relax, looks at turning 40 and probably thinks, “It’s alright.  I’ve had a lifetime of this.  Somebody even said to me that I haven’t had it that bad yet.  I wonder how somebody who’s never walked in my shoes can tell me how to to feel.  So go on and ignore me“.  This is not in any way to throw shade, it is to show solidarity.  I am sure almost every middle-aged young, married couple in the world has had similar thoughts, male and female and queer.  Everyone.  It is is a human conundrum.  Carol Pacey is speaking to the idealist dreamer in each and every one of us, crushed beneath the reality of the world and the needs of our hearts.

Done :

“As long as I played nice, yo never worried about me twice,
But once I opened my mouth you took me so far down that I couldn’t get out.
Time and time, I tried to share with you my point of view only to get shut down by your
Thoughtless attitude so I drew a line here in the sand where the “me” I like now take a stand
On the side of where my time is close at hand.
And so I’m done.  I can’t fight you anymore.”

#Word Carol Pacey, and my wife would say the same.  And that is why you are a poet.  And that is why we keep trying to achieve BLISS.  But, if you were Guru Bono…. people would check out.  That is why the Soapbox is bad.  The Honeyshakers know this, and dose their sweetness with a humility, a realness, that is inspiring…. and beautiful.

Kim Dangerous of The Bellwethers and Carol Pacey at Spirit Room, Jerome, Arizona.

Somewhere Beautiful :  “I almost gave up {yester}day.  No, I don’t mean that.  I mean I almost gave into believing someone else’s cold hard facts.  That everywhere you look, nobody seems to care about anything anymore.  Not you, not me, not them, not anything, and I just couldn’t get on board. {…} It’s funny when you’re in it and you can’t seem to open your eyes.  I tried to sell myself on the make believe, trying to hide from all the lies.  But I need to believe somehow we really do all feel the same, That love wins, love rules, and maybe someday a world without so much pain.”

While I was listening to this record, over and over again while stocking the pallets at Costco, and spiraled into darkness with angst and unknowns…. I found one constant, universal truth, that I had always believed but is easy to forget.

Music…. saves.  And this record is Honey Shakin BLISS.

Carol Pacey & the Honey Shakers are ready to share two AMAZING events with you this week.  The first is TOMORROW NIGHT at Chopper Johns!


The second is an intimate afternoon with Carol and Andy over at Phoenix Film Bar.




Poetry….. is Necessary.

Keep the Greasy Side Down My Friends, in All Things.


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