Last Week of Summer Work: Tiny Songs Chapbook

For a long time I didn't know it was there.
For a long time I mourned that it would never be.
For a long time I didn't recognize what it was.
For a long time I imagined it without knowing how to make it.
And then I made it.
Though it is different from how I imagined it,
Here is how it turned out.


While at the Mosinee Farm

What can I say about carrying with me Langston Hughes' Selected Poems and Adam Fell's Dear Corporation,?

I can say that while at the farm I read from them more than I thought I might (if you'd have asked me before the trip), though I'm equally surprised at how much more there is to read from both and how having read a poem once does not mean that it is read.

I fall into each of their grooves.

I read from both aloud to Biffy, something I almost never do.

Both make us laugh.

Langston Hughes reminds me some of Shel Silverstein.  Both wrote songs.

I don't know if Adam Fell writes songs.

If he does, he doesn't mention it, or he does mention it but not in the poems I read, or he mentions it in the poems I read, but not in the parts I remember from the poems I read.

I like the look and feel of both books so spend as much time as I do reading them, fondling them and flipping through them, appreciating the type face (Hughes' set in ELECTRA), the line breaks (Fell's in narrow paragraphs), the white on black illustrations (E. McKnight Kauffer), the post cards (signed "A.", addressed "Dear Corporation,").

My husband took me to a poetry reading, something he almost never does, and there was Adam Fell. While browsing the library stacks for ekphrasis class, I pulled Selected Poems of Langston Hughes from the shelf.

I carry them around with me and wonder about how that changes things.  


From the Appleton Improvisation Underground Comes HOUDINI, an All Genre Rock Opera Biography about the World's Favorite Escape Artist

My father Rabbi Weiss
stood before the minion
his sarcastic glances glimmering

his confusing humor shimmering
he liked to laugh at pain

My father, Rabbi Weiss
stood before the minion
as they told him to move on

his German was too old fashioned
my father Rabbi Weiss
stood upon the bema

weeping under the vaulted ceilings
of that cold cold Temple Zion

goodbye Temple Zion
goodbye Appleton
goodbye Mr. Hanauer

it’s time for Rabbi Weiss to move on.

tad neuhaus: ukulele, organ guitar, steel drum
joanna dane: vocals
(other tracks with matt turner)

Thank you John Adams for curating Feather and Bone at this year's most fabulous Mile of Music

and thank you Ronald and Christoph Wahl of Wahl Organbuilders, current residents of Temple Zion

*HOUDINI now available at record stores near you


Apology On the Verge

I'm thinking that I need to write an apology, but then I realize that I also need to write a thank you.

In the former case, perhaps an apology is not quite warranted, though in the latter, a thank you is an absolute necessity.

Writing an apology would make me feel better even though it might make the friend I'm apologizing to feel uncomfortable, a specialty of mine she informed me this weekend, after I sang in the shower in the Radisson lobby.

And then I told her two different stories in which I made people very uncomfortable, making my friend uncomfortable too.

But I don't feel the need to apologize for that since my friend is a psychiatrist and finds things like that fascinating, just as she found the music festival full of intriguing monkey behavior.

What I do want to apologize for were the complications that arose as I was wrestling with my own monkey mind.

But sitting down to write an apology, I find the circumstances surrounding the apology much more interesting than the apology itself, so I write about that instead.

And in writing about that, I realize perhaps it isn't an apology I need to write, but a thank you.

Instead, I sit down and play some banjo.

(listen to some porch music)



Interviews with Interesting People: Matt Turner discusses his latest album of solo cello improvisations, Virion Impasto

Listen to Matt Turner 

(master improvisational cellist and pianist,
professor of jazz and improv at Lawrence University's Conservatory of Music)

discuss the methods, titles, and techniques of his newest release

Virion Impasto

acoustic solo cello as never heard before


experimental anti-music avant-garde outsider fringe improvisations)

the knotty pine
photo: Daria Van De Loo


Report from Crystal Lake

listen to sounds from the shores of crystal lake, wisconsin

This morning as soon as I woke, I put on my swimsuit, still damp from yesterday, and went to the beach, Andrew following me to get the canoe.  The water was cold and I was the only one in the lake, another far off on the beach.

Sarah appeared, sitting in meditation.

Twice I scared up a flock of seagulls.

In the mornings, under the long shadow of trees, the water is cloudier than in the afternoons when the sun rays split into flavors of turquoise, crisp divisions between the layers, the surface, a mirror of sky and water, the bottom sands crackling with tortoise shelled light.

We had breakfast and I washed the dishes and played a word game with Eleanora.  The little girls went canoeing with the dads and I lay in the hammock and read Virginia Woolf's A Writer's Diary.   Now, she is wondering if the masterpiece she has just written is mere self indulgent nonsense.

What if Leonard hadn't fallen in love with her, encouraged her, cared for her, published her books? Would there have been another to take his place or would some other writer have received the attention instead, Virginia Woolf meaning nothing more than a state and a wild dog?


Houdini: Exhibit A

matt turner, electric cello
tad neuhaus, guitar
joanna dane, vocals

Most watched his hands
but I watched his eyes
so many secrets he hoards

So much fame
we all the thousands roar
we surge closer


We pay you to renew our belief
that there is indeed a way
always a way out

No matter how dire
no matter how bound we are

We cheer to see you
free your bonds


Your eyes shining


we cheer
escape we all desire

still struggling

not knowing

the way


Houdini - How Will You Escape Death?

matt turner, electric cello
tad neuhaus, turntables
joanna dane, vocals

The world will never know
what I have lost
I lay awake dreaming of his escape

And how much I am still bound by his love
Oh, Houdini!

How my heart is still bound
No more chains nor locks to escape from
Oh my dear

just death
just death

the final locks are closed

a grip so tight it's permanent
that my last hope is all but gone

how will you escape Houdini,
how will you escape?

how will you escape death Houdini?
how will you escape death?


Report from an Honor Flight and Secrets to a Long Happy Life

I had the privilege recently of sitting down with my Great Uncle Bennett at his 90th birthday celebration to hear about the Honor Flight he took to Washington D.C.  We hadn't seen each other for many years and though my parents reported how well he is doing, I was amazed by his infectious vitality.  As my 14 year old son said, "He's livelier than most of my friends."

Listen to Bennett Fishbain 
tell the story of his Honor Flight
and his secrets to living a long, happy, healthy life:

featuring Bennett's great great nephew Isadore Dane playing taps and Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll"

My Great Uncle Bennett at his 90th Birthday Celebration


Coffee Notes

The coffee,
even though it is left over from this morning,
tastes good.

kid's ink drawing found in basement


Composition for Improvisation with C's for Piano

Start on middle C

Improvise on only C's 

Use all C's at least once

Create patterns

Vary the patterns

Swell and descend


With the first note that strays from C, make new patterns





Houdini: Dearest Love

Listen to this Houdini love ballade:

joanna dane, vocals
tad neuhaus, guitar, bass drum, toy organ, chains

I can't fight anymore
Halloween is here

Make a pillow of my mother's letters
for my head to rest for all eternity

Sweetheart, when you read this, I will be dead
Do not grieve
I have loved only two women in my life
My dear mother
And my wife

Yours in life, death, and the ever after,



who was once Ehrich Weiss


Houdini: Letter to the Dead

Matt Turner, electric cello
Tad Neuhaus, electric bass prepared with chains
Joanna Dane, vocals

Who do you see when you see me?

How will you know when I'm gone?

Where do you go when I can not see you?
How do you disappear?

Where do you go when you leave me?
What do you conceal?

What binds will you put me in?

How many more days do I have left to live?