Friday, 19 December 2008

~ I, Axl: An American Dream
will return in early 2009 ~

Seasons fuckin' greetings to
one and all.

143. Air Miles

American Airlines
has the best big-assed

more generous with their

I spend
my flights secluded
behind eye mask,

headphones and
pretzels, a frequent flyer -
club class.

I pine for
the days when
lack of funds

meant the others
flew economy
with the other cattle

smoking, whoring,
snorting at
30,000 feet

but now America
is becoming
like communist China.

These days they
let any old riff-raff
into the player’s lounge.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

142. ‘Four Wheels and a Full Tank’: A Medatitive Poem by Duff McKagan, Aged 29.

There is no end
to the road
there is no friend
to be found out here
on the road
only ghosts
of nights gone by
no Kerouac voyage
of kicks and discovery
only weak coffee
white lines
of all types
and road-side signs
museums for the
world’s biggest pencil
and the world’s oldest
waffle house

This is America.
This is the American Dream:
four wheels, a full tank
and the freedom to be;
only the dream is
endless and boring
and nothing happens here
nothing but
endless movement,
a mass displacement
of isolated individuals
we are reduced
to crossed paths and
missed connections -
I mean
what use is this dream
if you can
never wake from it?

It’s hard not
to see the truth
when you’ve broken
from your moorings
and find yourself adrift
on the tide of fortune -
moving, always moving
yet still never more
than 93 million miles
from the sun.
We labour under the
illusion that we
are moving forward
yet we can only
ever circulate this orb
like ants on a
bored kid’s soccer ball
wilting in the sun.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

141. Cancelling Atlanta

The simple version is
six long years ago I
got arrested for teaching
some security bitch a
life lesson after he beat
on one of my buddies
in the crowd in Atlanta.

Back there today I could
feel vibes that were wholly
negative and I’m just not
that guy any more; today
I’d put a bullet in the back
if any yellow-shirted assholes
who much as even talks to me

so on the advice of my lawyer
my manager and taking into
account my current parole
obligations we decided to
pull the show. I'm not willing
to be a sitting duck for the police.
I'm familiar with that experience.

Reno, Nevada
Salt Lake city, Utah
Rapid City, South Dakato
Omaha, Nebraska
Auburn Hills, Michican
Atlanta, Georgia (cancelled)

Monday, 15 December 2008

140. On The Endless World Tour, Duff Redefines Indignity

I’m in the middle of a song
we’re rocking out
then I’m on my back
and everything is black.

No man has put me down -
yet something is amiss;
here I am knocked out cold
by a warm bottle of piss.

139. Tokyo, Japan

"Hey this song is called
‘Live And Let Stir-Fry’,

Friday, 12 December 2008

Austin, Texas
Birmingham, Alabama
New Haven, Connecticut
Portland Oregon
Hamilton, Ontario
Maine, New England
Boston, Massachusetts
Iowa City, Iowa
Fargo, North Dakota
Winnipeg, Winnipeg
Saskatoon, Canada
Vanocuver, Canada
Portland Oregon
Sacramento, California

138. Auckland, New Zealand

"Australia! How the hell
are you motherfuckers?"

Thursday, 11 December 2008

137. 'November Rain' Video Treatment

A fiery vision heralds the autumn sun singeing
the land with frosted crust hues of umber, carmine
and crimson; skies so wide they stretch
and smile for many a mile over plane and
canyon. Cut to: a young man and women

so very much in love they appear drunk.
They are Anthony and Cleopatra, they are
Catherine and Heathcliff, John and Yoko
they are star-crossed visions of purity and
beauty. Cut to: a band performing with a full

orchestra in opulent, theatrical surroundings.
A man is seated at a grand piano. We see that
it is he, the young lover. As he begins to sing
his voice is full of longing, longing for his lover
who he envisions in a snow-white wedding dress

it the girl of his dreams, a creature of such
ethereal and staggering beauty that the viewer is
nearly struck dumb. Cut to: a church, a wedding.
It is our young protagonists at the altar, surrounded
by their family and friends and band. Cut to:

The Rainbow Bar & Grill where the young man
is with his pals and his loved one. Cut to: the church,
where the best man temporarily loses the ring (evoking
‘pathos’), cut to: the open road, to Harleys, to fireworks,
cut to: the priest, the vows, the exchanging of rings.

Cut to: the kiss, to the exterior of the church, to the
desert, Slash in leathers, legs akimbo, soloing like
his life depends upon it. Cut to: the live show,
to the church, to the lovers, to the wedding party,
but most importantly cut to: some November rain.

Please note: the rain must coincide with the climactic
section of the song; if we get nothing else right it must
be this. Please also note: it is imperative that the rain
looks like it is falling in ‘November’. Cut to: a funeral
service, more rain, whose funeral – the young bride?

Cut to: more rain, a tossed wedding bouquet in slow motion,
a casket being lowered into the earth. Torrential rain now.
The young man tossing and turning alone in bed. Outside:
rain falls. The casket is buried, he wakes in a sweat.
Repeat all of the above for nine minutes, fade out. Roll credits.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

136. Steve The Bodyguard

I guess that film with Whitney
got one thing right; in this game

the safety of your client is paramount.
It’s your job to make sure they’re OK

at all times. You also have to comport
yourself with discretion, not get phased

and you have to tread a fine line between
following what you’re meant to do

and what the client wants you to do; with
rock stars there’s definitely a difference.

Typical example: Sweden, August 1992.
I’m asked to stick to my client like glue.

His management tells me he’s been
getting a little wacky of late; unpredictable.

So it’s show time and we’re due to leave
Outside the hotel the limo is waiting.

I’m suited, in shades, smelling like roses.
I’m alert, I’m primed, I’m ready for anything.

“I’m due on in twenty minutes,” says my client
fixing his hair. “Let’s get this thing rolling.”

We hit the elevator, down from the penthouse,
then glide across the smooth floor of the foyer.

“Oh wait,” he says. “I want to play some roulette.”
and with that he hits the casino for an hour.

Meanwhile, the phone is ringing off the hook
with people flipping out “Yo, where is he, Steve?

What have you done with him? Is everything alright?”.
On and on, down through all tiers of the organisation.

So I’m, like, OK, you gotta chill on this. Right now
he’s gambling, but I’m gonna bring him over very soon.

This is when a bit of diplomacy comes in handy.
I speak to the guy and gently suggest we should get going.

Finally he cashes in his chips and agrees, “Yeah.
Let’s get this thing rolling,” and we’re on our way.

Only it doesn’t end there. We’re ten minutes from
the venue where 13,000 Swedes are drunk and bored

and my client suddenly snaps alert. “Stop the car!
Stop the car now!”. I’m like, what’s up brother?

Is everything OK? What can I do? And he’s, like,
“Look – over there: fireworks” and I’m thinking

yeah, and?, and he’s like “They’re awesome.
I love fireworks. Let’s go see them close up”

so next thing I know we’re taking a diversion
to go see some stinking firework display when

we should be halfway through a show and though
I want to say, dude, get a grip, I can’t because

the safety and happiness of the client comes first
and besides he could fire me on the spot and

then what do you have? A rock star lost in Stockholm
and me stranded, jobless, the cold shoulder treatment

and, furthermore, you’d have 13,000 pissed off Swedes
and four very annoyed musicians ready to tear you a new ass.

See, you have to think professionally, so I’m like:
Sure buddy, let’s go see some fireworks,

and all the while I’m thinking ahead
trying to maintain, remembering procedure.

So that’s exactly what we do: we go watch
some fireworks until the client gets bored or

psyched or whatever it is he needs to do to
play a show and eventually we’re pulling away

and speeding to the venue at 100mph and the client
is sitting looking out the window, totally unphased

We drive straight down a ramp and through a
loading bay and park up twenty feet from the stage

where the band are in the middle of some sort
of shitty blues jam dirge and though everyone

backstage is losing their minds no-one dares
rag on my client because, after, all, this whole

thing still hinges on him, even though, deep down,
I know, none of this would possible without

guys like me. The bodyguards. The drivers. The techs
The caterers. All the assholes you see straight through

when you’re too busying idolising the latest pipsqueak
ego-tripping little fuckhead who I’m paid to serve.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Monday, 8 December 2008

134. April 1992: Axl Meets Kurt At The MTV Awards

In hell’s green room
two worlds collide
two viewpoints merge
and sparks will surely fly.

In the red corner:
the reigning king
teetering on his chrome throne
holding court for the dregs of the decadent 80s.

In the blue:
the rag-clad serf
who scaled the gates
of the fortified compound screaming songs of revolt.

The king’s court
contains jesters and handmaidens
there to serve their benevolent master
to hang on every cracked prophesy

The serf meanwhile
is a reluctant leader of men
the peasant who dared to put his head
above the parapet, only to be welcomed in.

Tactical of mind,
the king first extends an olive branch
only to have it returned bent all
our of shape.

The serf see through
the political moves of the king,
laughing, he stays in his seat,
knows that never the twain can meet.

Yet today their paths conjoin
in the arena of entertainment
with TV cameras positioned
on every corner, a rapt audience waiting.

The serf’s maiden mocks the king
suggests he should bless their new baby
so the king responds as only the king knows how:
with a gauntlet thrown down,

but the challenge of a fight
is met with derision and laughter;
and now the king fears for the future
of his career hereafter.

The king wishes to take a scythe
to the arms of the serf with the people on his side
but the people have the power
so the king lets it slide.

Even so, he can’t forget -
even when their envoys interject,
this slight upon his character
this silent generational threat.

While the bile will rise inside
so too the serf will ascend the tower
while the king watches, devoid of direction
devoid of all power.

Yet the serf is ill-prepared for what awaits him
he’s installed on a new throne
only to find he hate it
he wants to return to his people

but his people have turned away.
He can never return to his humble state
now he’s trapped in a tower
in a castle by a lake.

Now as his new Rome burns
he fiddles with a gun
turns on the radio and
the music of the old king is on…

Friday, 5 December 2008

133. A Call From The Rocket Man

"Hello cutie. It’s Selton. Selton John. Listening darling,
a few of us are having a bit of a get-together for Freddie
at Wembley and we’d love it if you and your reprobate
friends could pop along for a bit of sing-song.

We’ll all sing some Queen numbers and raise shit-loads
of money for AIDS awareness. Dame Bowie is threatening
to say prayer, and legends like Seal, Paul Young, Extreme
and that lemon Stansfield have all already confirmed.

I was thinking maybe you and I could do a duet on ‘Rhapsody’.
Then we’ll finish by all singing a rousing rendition of ‘Champions’.
Then maybe afterwards we could all go out carousing together?
It’ll be a party! So call me back darling. It’s Selton. Selton John."

(Image by Sexton Ming)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

132. Soul Crisis In The Rose Vortex

A constant:
the same words
returning to
describe the empty
feelings of removal
that consume me
when faced with a
wailing walls of faces.

The vortex
the void
what I call
‘the big empty’
or sometimes
‘the death camp’
or maybe on a
good day
‘the devil’s
sports hall’,

where the sound is
a hollow echo
like the wind
whipping at a turret
of an abandoned
castle in a remote
and desolate place

or else the strangulated
cries of desperation
that must surely
soundtrack what we
commonly perceive
to be ‘hell’;

or maybe just that dividing line
between pain and pleasure
between life and death
between protest and celebration
state repression and
total abandonment
and/or emancipation.

Either way:
the sound is ice cold
like a nail in the spine
that instant feeling like
everything you’ve ever
known has slipped away
and left you stranded.

Like every regret you
have ever harboured
comes home to roost at once
like every wasted second
like every girl you ever loved
like every single salted tear

re-appears, to remind you
that this life – any life -
is a lonely life, and that
in the end, when the scores
are counted, and the tallies
noted we live and we exist
and we die alone.

Afterwards: as expected
- as is now customary -
the shrill layers
of human voices
in exultation and the
screams of expectation
and unadultered adoration
(or is it adulation?)
peel away like an onion
to reveal nothing at its core.

It is this nothingness
that consumes me each
night; the silence of
fifty thousand echoes,
deafening even when
they’re long gone;

it’s like the building
is haunted by the night,
like all those screams
are eternally trapped
inside to rebound off the walls
bouncing and colliding
like a phalanx of lost souls
caught between life
and that great celestial
otherness known as infinity,
resigned to a life sentence
in a chaotic, deafening limbo;

it is this that I fear
the most - the very real
possibility that nothing
- and I mean nothing
means anything; love,
money, fame, success;
nothing: zip, zilch, nada
the big goose egg; all
for what? For nothing.
It is thoughts like these
that, out on tour, in the
spotlight, exposed, naked,
scrutinized and dissected
I have to deal with each day
in my own little way.

Lord only knows
where I will find
the strength to
keep on giving.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

131. Oklahoma!

“You know, they don't want things
like this concert here in Oklahoma to fucking happen.
Yeah, there's a lot of people who
don't know why they do things.

They don't want people like you, that are here tonight,
to see some little loud mouth fucker like me,
who crawled out some shithole somewhere,
and worked his way up onto this stage.

There's something out there that doesn't want
people like you to realize that you can do
whatever the fuck you want with your goddamn life.
And there are those that unless they get a piece of the pie,

unless they get a piece of your ass,
unless they get a piece of your life,
they just don't want it to happen.
You do it their way or you don't do it.

Well, they can suck my dick! (crowd roars)
I believe that deep inside everybody,
there's something inside you that knows
what the fuck you're supposed to do with your life.

And no matter what anybody tells you
if you keep looking and you keep digging
you're gonna find it. And you can be
the person you fucking were meant to be

on this goddamn planet.
And don't let anybody, anybody,
ever get in your way, including me.
And I know it's not like the most humane thing,

but when it gets real rough, you can think
of a theme song that somebody else wrote.
Namely Mr. Paul McCartney.
And when they're trying to keep you down,

just hold on and know someday you'll bust out,
you'll get onto your own shit and they won't
be able to fucking keep up with your ass.
And you can be thinking just ‘Live And Let Die’ motherfucker!'."

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

130. Duff On Therapy

Axl’s therapist.
Yeah. That’s was another turning point.

I mean, the guy
has a lot of issues to work through.

Crazy shit
from his childhood. Violence, religion…

though it quickly
seemed like he had the monopoly on pain.

I don’t know
what his therapist said, but he got righteous

all of a sudden.
It was like we had to tread twice as carefully.

I thought
a therapist was meant to make things better?

But no.
that definitely wasn’t the case here.

It didn’t really matter
so much when we off the road because

back home
we were all doing our own things,

back home
we were living individual lives.

But when Axl
brought this therapist out on tour

questions were asked.
Like: who is this guy and why

does he want
us to go into these ridiculous group hugs?

If he knew
anything he’d know that Guns isn’t that band.

We’re not
touchy-feely, love-sharing type of guys.

We each
have our roles, we each cover our backs

That was
always the way, right from day one:

Play the show
and everything else beyond it is your call.

But no.
Axl’s therapy session increased.

Out there
We wouldn’t see him except for stage time

And we’d play
these shows with this therapist in the wings,

giving Axl
the thumbs up every time he looked his way.

Many jokes
were cracked about that, I tell you.

It was like
he substituted drugs with therapy

and sure enough
he got himself addicted to ‘sharing’.

We could hire
a thousand therapists and they’d still

be unravelling that
dude’s personality on his death-bed.

Axl talked
a lot about being ‘healed’ round that time.

Suddenly he was
talking about feelings and ‘bad energy’.

He talked
about getting to the core of his ‘id’,

he talked
about ego, childhood, sexuality and recovery.

None of which
we would have minded if it hadn’t

turned him
into an even bigger a-hole than he was before.

Monday, 1 December 2008

129. Just Another Vegas Breakdown

From the sky
it looks like an electric snake
undulating across the hot desert floor
the way it twinkles
and shimmers

I take over a floor at the Bellagio
and move my shit in.
I’m in total
‘ignore the band
at all costs’ mode

I just don’t
want to be around those assholes -
they sap my energy
misinterpret me
always want to party.

I seal the doors
order some food
run a bath,
meditate, but
the only mantra I can reach

in my head like a woodpecker
a drill deep inside.

I drink some
honey tea
try and read some Hubbard.
That guy had

it going on, fucking started
a religion off of
his writing shit
(now there’s a
thought…ah, fuck it
rock ‘n’ roll is my racket
and I know it).

no place
else I can

fear, loathing
and so much more
fills me with anxiety.
On TV an infomercial plays
and I don’t know where
to put myself;

suppressing the urge to scream
even though my throat
is shot again
I lie back and make phone calls:

my management
my lawyer
my accountant
my realtor

no-one answers
I’m met by
a wall of voice-mail
to growl and snarl at
which I do
for an hour or so

in my head like a woodpecker
a drill deep inside

I take a bath
Vegas lies beneath me
sin city sanitised
fun for all the family
Disneyland with tits
and tips for
dawn brunch waitresses.

This place excited me once
but not any more
nothing excites me
the gamble is dead
the war can’t be won

Milestones become moments,
faded Polaroid pictures
to file away;
I find myself craving
some semblance of simplicity
in a life that is
inordinately complicated.

I guess I’m just burned
by night after night
of the fire fight
in the spotlight

in my head like a jackhammer
(just kill yourself,

It’s Vegas;
it steals your soul
at the entrance
and returns it at
the end-game
tattered and bloody

it fills your eyes
with dollar signs
as if they weren’t blinded already
it appeals to the basest appetite.

It’s sick
a cathedral for vulgarity
a celebration of obesity
a theme park for the living,
spending, farting,

I step out the bath
towel myself off
and wander naked
from pristine room
to pristine room,
four thousand of them
in all and I have
the best dozen.

I press my face to the
cool class of the window
and see nothing but casinos
cars and the thick black night
beyond the edge of town

in my head like a woodpecker
(just end it all,

The desire to run into
the blackness engulfs me instantaneously,
the desire
to fill my nostrils with dust
to see the moon silent
and stars that weren’t glued
there by men

to escape The Strip,
the town, the tour
the trip
to run and just keep running
barefoot, wild like a coyote

out across the road
between headlights
down alley ways
through vacant lots
and beneath the
neon giants
that demarcate
the edge of town.

Soon they’ll
find me feral
unrecognisable and
hard-bitten from experiences
out there alone
in the night

they’ll find me snarling,
howling at the moon,
chasing my tail,
the gnarled leg of a lesser
animal wedged in my jaws,
my hair matted
my eyes a different shape
and colour.

I’ll no longer respond to
my birth name.