THE DEAD CROONER
This ain’t the story of Bing Crosby. And sure as shit ain’t the story of Sinatra or Fred Astaire either. This is a story unfit for Bobbie-soxers & the elderly. And this is not the story of some sentimental journey, a very very long-time “ago”.
So let’s all get nostalgic and flashback as they say to the golden days. Where dreams were a dime a dozen and love was still innocent,for a few. At least that’s what they say. This story starts back in the days when some guys named “The Nazi’s” were just starting up the party in a place called Germany, and when some shit-head named Adolph Hitler who they called “DA Fur her” told the world that they were all inferior to his master race. Then one day in the neighborhood he just came along they say. A young man in his early 30’s, not a kid at all but some guy who looked like he had it all together. With his leather jacket flung over his one arm, hair slicked back with pomade and a Lucky-Strike dangling from the corner of his lip. Five feet-10inch’s & all the the girls said “He’s a dish”. That confident smile, the smart ass knowing grin, and a voice they all say that they remembered as sounding like some kind of magic, some kind of bird as he walked from place to place in Albany. He, knowing everybody back then, and everybody knowing him.
“Don’t let your daughters go near that crazy jazz fella!”, All the mothers would say,”He’s trouble!”. As if just by the sight of looking at him all their daughters would instantly become impregnated. But the secret is, the rumor was was that some of those mom’s wanted & got some “singing” lessons on the side themselves.
“Hey!, I’m singing at the club tonight!” He’d tell them. “The New Kenmore Hotel” You should come check me out. the legend being that he had learned to sing from and that his voice was a gift from singing in some negro~black churches when he was younger, and that over the years he had sang with all the creme de’la creme as well. Bull Moose, P. Baby Dodds & The Scranton Singers as well as many others. Rumors that he was into “Voo doo” strange drugs & everything else and that he didn’t worship God, like a good Sunday-morning christian. But night after night his orchestra & his beautiful voice had filled the room as couples danced, swayed and fell in love. Going on forever as if the music would never stop. Gallagher? What was his last name they say these days? The big band historians don’t remember.
Then, one night, as the old-story goes. Upon the dark streets of Albany after all the bars closed. A debt was settled & paid …in full. Y’see the singer, the crooner didn’t know what he had gotten himself into. As if there were some hand of strange fate that had reached out and ended his brief career. What happened was he crossed the wrong man’s, the devil’s path as they say. A man known in the city known as “Legs Diamond”. And a man who wasn’t pleased that some good-looking, handsome singer with his tones of gold, was screwing his girlfriend inside the hotel. And on that dark, cold night one October as the wind brushed by his face, walking down Broadway, the crooner got snared by some of Diamond’s men. And that was the night he paid the devil his due. As still alive, screaming they held him there on that street corner and cut him open deep from chest to throat. Gutted him, still breathing…screaming & gasping for air, like a fish. And then as legend has it took the only thing that that boy had had left. His voice. And dumped the rest his body in the Hudson River but took that one piece of him..that made him unique, and hid it somewhere, possibly in a palace, where no one except Legs would know where to find.And O’Connell and all the police..did nothing.
But many years have passed, long ago since that fateful night. Times change, times swing and time goes by, and they rock n’ roll and have moved onto bigger & better things, where the streets & all the old buildings of that era remain empty and vacant. All of the people from another time, seemingly erased as well as the gangsters who are also remembered vaguely. But the kids? They just keep on dancing, whatever the newest craze, as they should. And yet what happened to Gallagher? they never found his body or anything that was left of him, and remains for the better part of things “A Ghost” in the history of the time of the big bands. Yet every now and then, when the city streets are empty in the early near-morning hours under the streetlights as you are walking you can still hear some strange-sweet beautiful voice singing from out of nowhere, a phantom that lulls you into thinking that someone is walking towards you from around the corner, which you turn. And it has been reported by strangers & college students that if you listen that you may possibly see him there. A good-looking man in his mid-30’s in a pinstripe suit, smoking a cigarette, who then suddenly & mysteriously fades away.And in Albany they refer to him as “The Dead Crooner”. an urban legend, as they say. Appearing..here & there to the ladies as they walk by what’s left of The Kenmore saying
“Hey beautiful? Can I sing you a dream?
And then, just vanishing…into thin air.
“There are surely other worlds than this—other thoughts than the thoughts of the multitude— other speculations than the speculations of the sophist. Who then shall call thy conduct into question? who blame thee for thy visionary hours, or denounce those occupations as a wasting away of life, which were but the overflowing of thine everlasting energies?”
— Edgar Allan Poe – The Assignation
God is alive…..Magic is afoot…God is alive….magic is afoot… God is afoot…..Magic is alive…Alive is afoot..magic never died! God never sickened. Many poor men lied. Many sick men lied. Magic never weakened. Magic never hid. Magic always ruled. God is afoot. God never died! God was Ruler, though his funeral lengthened. Though His mourners thickened, magic never fled. Though His shrouds were hoisted the naked God did live; Though His words were twisted the naked magic thrived; Though His death was published round and round the world The heart did not believe. Many hurt men wondered. Many struck men bled. Magic never faltered. Magic always led. Many stones were rolled, but God would not lie down! Many wild men lied. Many fat men listened. Though they offered stones, magic still was fed! Though they locked their coffers, God was always served. Magic is afoot….God is alive…. Alive is afoot….Alive is in command. Many weak men hungered. Many strong men thrived. Though they boasted solitude, God was at their side. Nor the dreamer in his cell, nor the captain on the hill: Magic is alive! Though His death was pardoned ‘round and ‘round the world, The heart would not believe! Though laws were carved in marble they could not shelter men; Though altars built in Parliaments, they could not order men; Police arrested magic and magic went with them, ah! For magic loves the hungry…. But magic would not tarry, it moves from arm to arm, It would not stay with them; it cannot come to harm: Magic is afoot! It cannot come to harm. It rests in an empty palm. It spawns in an empty mind. But magic is no instrument: magic is the End! Many men drove magic, but magic stayed behind; Many strong men lied. They only passed thru magic and out the other side! Many weak men lied. They came to God in secret and though they left Him nourished, They would not tell Who healed; Though mountains danced before them, they said that God was dead! Though His shrouds were hoisted, the naked God did live! God is alive! Magic is afoot…God is alive… God is alive… Magic is afoot… This I mean to whisper to my mind: This I mean to laugh with in my mind: This I mean my mind to serve ‘Til service is but magic, moving thru the world And mind itself is magic, coursing thru the flesh And flesh itself is magic, dancing on a clock, And Time itself, the magic length of God! God is alive…Magic is afoot…Magic is afoot…God is alive.. Magic is alive…God is afoot…Alive is afoot…God never died. Many strong men lied. They only passed thru magic and out the other side! This I mean to whisper to my mind: This I mean to laugh with in my mind: This I mean my mind to serve ‘Til service is but magic, moving thru the world And mind itself is magic, coursing thru the flesh And flesh itself is magic, dancing on a clock, And Time itself, the magic length of God!
Houdini & The After~Life …
Watch Him Disappear …
I am tired of your self-centered
Bullshit & whining ways
Stop this train, stop it now.
For we shall all remain… Dream.
Into this life,
Or the next.
An ode to the dead world that is poetry, lost and faraway.
The ancient soul of Sappho gone and golden days.
Tear these words, voices away. Now only left with memories.
Let the prophets burn,
And create the visions of what shall be
Under the currents and beyond the sleep of the icons reach…
Speak of that which is human,
Love …this eternal dream
Forget the fools, the mundane
A wild ride,
An action packed extravaganza
With spooky, scary thrills
Coming soon to an idiot near you.
Fuck it… Fuck them.
I’m going out
For a drink &
Kiss my wife & kids
Love thy neighbor
Love thy friends
For this life
Is all too short
R.M. Engelhardt 2012
By Thom Francis
As part of rolling out the new AlbanyPoets.com website, we are inviting the poets on the site to send us some new work that we can post. One of the first poets to take us up on the offer happens to be one of the first poets on the site when Albany Poets began in 2000.
Albany, NY based poet, writer R.M. Engelhardt has published several books over the last decade including Nod~Logos~Alchemy~The Last Cigarette: The Collected Poems of R.M. Engelhardt & others. His current experimental book of poetry & prose is called “Versus-Lexikon” A poet & writer, Engelhardt through his ideas & visions has helped to create a large amount of the Upstate, Albany, NY spoken word~poetry scene and is the host of “SAINT POEM READING SERIES” an Open Forum-Mic For All Poets held every 3rd Monday of each month at The Upstate Artists Guild (UAG).His work has also been published by many journals on the net & in print including Retort, Verve, Industrial Nation, Sure! The Charles Bukowski Newsletter, Thunder Sandwich, Fashion For Collapse, 2nd Avenue, The Angry Poet, Danse Macabre, Full of Crow & many others.
Poem By R.M. Engelhardt. June 2011