Book of Hendrix by Cheryl Passanisi

He quotes Hendrix,
amp and verse, sacred scripture
torn into his lips,

vinyl grooves of music
stamped into his breath
with redemption.

The devotee:
“Listen how the guitar
spits and crackles like the Watts Riots.”

Detonation music.

Smoke. He looks into the distance
for signals, channels,
dials in with his eyes, directs me,

because he is transfixed by smoke wounded sky,
to look in the tattered bag
searching for discs dashed and cracked.

I follow the strand of solving the guitar electric,
not among my successes,
the pulled cords stretch onto my ear

warp and wail,
from small speakers on the window sill
where we look out.

It sounds like metal twigs, teeth,
fingers snapping heroically, in the bag,
jumping obedience into virtuosity,

a handful of steel smoking in palm,

aftermath of bombs he always
knew were coming,
electricity gone rouge in the sky
recaptured by guitar shaped kite,

what to do next
among the steel and verse
hands blistered
with heat and music ash,

never taking on innocents
in a rung of hell
ghosted and seared.

Monterey Pop miasma –
slumber under the Lone Cypress,
the screaming in the streets
from those who could not sleep
with ferocity,

ruined, ruined,
riots, rebellions,

Yes, I remember,

peeling the skin back,
the face underneath –

the burn – the voice of pain
clawing itself out.
Someone’s palm not accepting money,

trying to collect the pain,
the bloom of pain and fire,
how it starts in one field
of vision and passes through all plains,

Until you think:
Yes, we are on fire.


Cheryl Passanisi lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay area. In addition to writing she sings and works as a registered nurse. As a nurse she cares for critically ill patients and teaches other nurses about ECG interpretation. She is currently back in school to become an acute care nurse practitioner.