December 30, 1994

An older piece. The message it contains, in a slightly different way, has become quite relevant again. This was the first time I’d ever taken poetry and set to music….when I read this poem, just after Paula finished it, it sent chills down my spine, and I instantly knew I could work with it. We released this on THE SAME THING in 2008. It features vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton, guest bari sax player, composer Fred Ho and Hiro.

December 30, 1994
On 12/30/1994, John Salvi walked into two women’s health clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts, and shot seven people, killing two of them. His rage had been fueled by rhetoric, and the text of this piece is about the potentially dangerous power of one of our greatest inventions, words. The music is mostly textural. The sounds represent emergency vehicles, first far off in the distance, later, right in your face. At the time of this event, I lived about a mile from one of the clinics. I don’t think that I heard the police and ambulance sirens, though I remember my shock and outrage that day, but as I was writing this music, I pictured having heard them, off in the distance and then as they arrived on the scene.

December 30, 1994
©Paula Tatarunis

O woman’s anger
is a maleficium
and she is the devil’s
strewing bloodrags
in the cathedral
red as the Cardinal’s

Forgive me, sir,
I trespass even here.

It’s your womb,
not mine, yours.
A text without context,
inflames your conscripts,
It’s a mean script, a salvo,
with the texture of scripture.

Come in! Come in!
My door is agape for you,
for gun barrels cocks
broomsticks fists.

May I be ground
to your seed, sir,
may I be field
to your plough
your pot to piss in
your midden
your mud hole
your spittoon
Grand Hotel
to all your little mulberries
so meek so sweet so mild
your little buddy embryos

who keep the homefires burning
while out you go
to your deathcamps gunshops,
wars and penetentiaries:
They are so
easy to love, no?
Like little fishies
in a pretty bowl?

O sister, my godmother,
my love, my friend,
my woman, my girl, my witch,
the stakes gallows squads
spell death L- I- F -E
and teach us how
words can kill
and kill and kill again.

Darrell Katz

Darrell Katz, director of the Jazz Composers Alliance, helped to found the organization in 1985.

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