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Lay for the Day
16th June

1967: the first day of the Monterey Pop Festival. None of its descendants – such as Woodstock, which followed two years later – had as much impact on the musical scene. Monterey – and D.A. Pennebaker’s brilliant documentary film of the event, Monterey Pop – provided a launch-pad for Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, the Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield and Jefferson Airplane.
The poem is about one of the longest-surviving children of Monterey Pop, the Glastonbury Festival, which has grown from an impromptu midsummer gathering of, like, heads, man, in a field within sight of the sacred hill at Glastonbury, to a vast enterprise involving hundreds of thousands of people and pounds, though still in a field within sight of the sacred hill at Glastonbury.
The year in question was 1987.

Angels Bandits

Down in the belly of the Festival
it was the second night
the site was drying out
singing Angels Bandits
People were tramping back to camp
twenty deep along the causeway
and mud in lakes on either side of the causeway
singing Angels Bandits Casualties
A Transit van buried to its axles
and burned out like some skull
sunk to its chops in the muck
singing Angels Bandits Casualties Dead
Beside every thoroughfare
at every junction like prophets’
voices in the wilderness calling Black ’Ash
Black ’Ash Black ’Ash Black ’Ash
Acid Mushrooms Grass Black ’Ash
The Mutoid Waste Company
had their Carhenge up on the hillside
and when night fell the crowd were up there beating on them
on their Batmobile vehicles and heaps of wrecks
We kept a fire and stayed up with it
going on all night on the last night
Sunday, drifting across at dawn
That was Ivan the Mutoids’ music master
the one who died in the Kings Cross fire
singing Angels Bandits Casualties

John Gibbens
from Makings ’84-’88

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar