tony moffeit | born to be blue

Born To Be Blue

by Tony Moffeit

Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6X9. Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301) | | ISBN: 978-1-929878-85-7 | Pages:100 | Publishing Date: Oct. 2011 | $15 + shipping

I’ve known Tony Moffeit since the early 1980’s, in Denver, when we’d run across one another at readings or other gatherings. We were both finding our way as writers at the time, and I, for one, had a young voice that was rough, raw, trying to get at real. We were trying to separate the truth from the chaff. One of the first times I heard him up close was at some third floor converted minimalist red brick Kerouac-esque warehouse space in downtown Denver, a new loft-type affair, suitable for performance. I was with Ed Ward; we were both wondering who this cat was, dressed in shiny leather, banging on the bongos like some incantatory, skinny white shadow. He had his voice down and it was a good sound. He believed what he was doing and we believed him when he did. While the rest of us were learning to emote cool, Tony was blowing, scatting, chanting, rhyming hot. It was coming from some vast subterranean spirit place where the blues get form and climb up the burning urgency of the voice straight up to the street. I quickly got the Pentecostal suggestion of his rhythms: this man could sing. He conjured Ray Charles, he conjured Mick Jagger…but with poetry! You could hear traces of San Francisco street poet/singer Jack Micheline, or Kell Robertson, traces of Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues…. FROM THE INTRODUCTION by John Macker.

Tony Moffeit’s

poetry is blues poetry, jazz poetry, Southwest poetry, and outlaw poetry. His book POETRY IS DANGEROUS, THE POET IS AN OUTLAW, from Floating Island Publications in 1995, contains outlaw poems and essays. His outlaw poetry and essays continue on two online websites: Metropolis: Outlaw Poetry and Free Jazz Network and St. Vitus Press and Poetry Review. His book PUEBLO BLUES was the winner of the Jack Kerouac Award from Cherry Valley Editions in 1986. Two other Cherry Valley Editions publications are LUMINOUS ANIMAL and NEON PEPPERS. He was the recipient of an NEA creative writing fellowship in 1992.

In 2004 Moffeit, along with Todd Moore, founded the Outlaw Poetry Movement. He is also a blues singer and songwriter and his blues music is featured on the 2008 CD, OUTLAW BLUES REVOLUTION, from DigiVintage Records. He is the author of over twenty-five books and chapbooks, many of them featuring poems with the characters Hank Williams and Billy the Kid. In 1997, he was the recipient of the Denver Press Club’s first annual Thomas Hornsby Ferril Poetry Prize. Moffeit has two websites: and


the click click click of the turn signal as i head south

from colorado springs to pueblo my writing pad on

the steering wheel and i write while i drive i like to write

while balancing a writing pad on the steering wheel
i like to write while driving on the highway i like to write
with the lights out i like to write in the dark i like to
head south with a pen in my hand i like to let the
poem write me i like to let the ghosts take over
i turn and head south on the interstate where truckers
fly by in a swarm of lights like pilots and i hear a
train whistle coming from the train tracks that long
lonesome moan that was caught in the voice of hank
williams on that backstreet called the blues i want
to find that backstreet that jukebox those shadows
find that bar where the only light is neon and the dark
is my second skin i seek the ghosts because the ghosts
are all i have left o pitch black night measured by
the pain made pure by the poison leave me alone to
let me learn how to breathe again i pass a truck and
continue south my hand cramping from holding the
writing tablet against the steering wheel too long
and the lights off to the side are swarming like bees
as i scribble in the darkness words i will translate
in the light the more important lines i write twice
so i might more easily decipher them
were you born for it you have left yourself to
become another were you born for it you have left
yourself to become a phantom leaving and
returning leaving and returning i don’t even
feel like i’m real anymore i don’t even feel like
i’m real anymore and my words are
scribbled on the steering wheel and my words are
caught in the effortlessness of the motion and my ink
is black as the night and my tablet is white and the
lights are streaming all around me and i am the
dark center of it all to turn to burn to leave
to return it’s road time it’s night time and the
motion is taking me deeper into the darkness
there’s a hunger that must be fed there’s a gamble
on the raw edge were you born for it to leave to
return like the buffalo or like the snake a distant
relative of the dinosaur i want to write all night
hunched over the steering wheel blasting through
the blackness the ghosts are out there i want to talk
with them i want to dance with them the only rhythm
i want is the rhythm of the road the only sleep
i want is the trance of the highway and now it is night
and night alone and the pen is moving with other fingers
where does that take you talking in tongues with the
velocity of drums i want to be that hired hand that
hired gun i want to ride inside the poem i want to
live inside the poem where the rain turns to
snow and the snow turns back into rain where
everything is change everything on the verge
of becoming everything turning returning the high
of the highway when all you want to do is
drive and drive and drive

from: Born To Be Blue by Tony Moffeit

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