Poems by tori hays

this is a poem for my friend James
who i cried for a hundred times
whose coffee stained wife beater chest looked
lonely without me next to it.
he was there the first time i met the blues. there
with his tan, freckled face, crooked teeth and dirty hair
first i loved his accent. then his silence sent me crying
fast to retreat in the pages of an old dorothy parker book
he introduced me to his cool friends, men
with names like howlin’ wolf, furry lewis and blind willie
James, i miss you. everything. everyday.
not just the obvious things. little things
stubble. michelob. natural spirits. corduroy!
the way corduroy sounded when you walked. all
the analyzed hours i spent at your 100 degree house. playing.
sweating away my tears
hoping that you would tell me how much you
wanted me to tell you how much i loved you
i loved you James. i did. i loved you
and you left me.
standing in that broken doorway, behind your cracked stucco walls
that were too thin and too small to keep you here, with me.
i miss you. your gravel, your sweat, your cigarettes and dobros
i watched you leave as i baptized your floor with my tears
so now i write for closure, in honor-
for you James, James, my ramblin’ man

tori hays
(with thanks to Peter Meineke)



She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes. I knew without
asking she was into the blues. She wore scarlet begonias tucked into
her curls. I knew right away she was not like other girls, other girls.

The clothes that I wear are a glimpse into my soul. They express the
way I feel, the way I think, the way I act, they way I view myself and
the way I view the world. The greatest of all clothes are the ones that
allow you to be free, physically and mentally.
At my first Widespread Panic show I was aimlessly walking about the
parking lot, absorbing the sun and the breeze that killed its heat.
Vendors were everywhere, selling everything from beer to bongs. The
smell of grilled cheese sandwiches mixed with illegal substances made me
smile. I was so excited to be at this show. I had waited so long.
Killing time I went to a sisters blanket with intentions to buy a
necklace, but bought a beautiful shirt instead. I’m not sure what it
was that made me buy that shirt. Perhaps I was just being the compulsive
being that I am. It turned out to be that this was no ordinary piece of
cloth. It was special. It was magic. I put in on and the world became
my best friend. It was a pink and white patchwork suntop, handmade with
love you could feel. Once i put on this shirt, the show became my road
to freedom.
We walked into the show. I remember everything exactly as it was.
Gov’t Mule was playing. The stupid pigs were unsucessfully stop drugs
from entering in the amphetheatre. I couldn’t wait for the Panic to
begin. So full of energy and happiness I could barely even think. The
music was loud and the air was full of smoke, just the way I like it.
Panic began to play and I became oblivious to the people around me. I,
through the power of music, had been taken into another realm. Praying
the night would never end, I danced and danced and danced. Twirling and
singing, smiling and dreaming, I was free to be myself. The music gave
me such a rush, such a feeling of warmth. It was a feeling that only
music can be responsible for giving. The night was far too short for
me. I could have danced all night. I could have danced forever in that
smoke filled heaven.
Was it the shirt? Probably not. The shirt just symbolizes an
important time in my life. A time when I realized that music is
happiness. Music is love. Music is freedom. Music, is life.