forgive the unprofessionally personal nature of this post. but death is about the living. and music makes angels and demons of all of us.
No mercy for dead men : unofficial obituary : ken E henson
Angry with a dead man I never loved.For holes he made in the love he made. For the hearts he broke.
Yesterday somebody asked me if I was a relative of Ken E. Henson. It was a curious question from Toast (Buckfever Underground). A displaced question, I thought. Nobody asks me that. Nobody knows that. Mine’s as trendy as the next disenfranchised family - post modernly fractured - I’d forgotten I’m connected to him at all. Technically. I put the enquiry down to his status on the music scene. The man better known for his skills on a guitar proved the maxim to its max. in my siblings’ lives he was first a musician, and an unrequited desire ever after. Now. Never after.
Toast knew something I didn’t. the musician is dead. And with him die his sins. The father in him seems never to have been born. But the father he never was lives on. A ghost in flesh. A ghost in death. And we the undparted are living scars in its wake...
I’ve resented him vehemently for the hole he put into my sibling’s lives. For as long as I can remember. In confused moments of loyalty, my siblings have even defended the man against my vitriol, saying I had no right to judge him. Yeah right. Like I don’t hurt to feel the unfilled hopes.
His absence made them heavier. You’d think if nothing was there, it would be lighter. It is now, for his firstborn. She says it feels more honest; she could never rely on him anyway, and now he’s gone. he was no kind of father, and now he’s taken even that with him. He’s taken with him what he never gave. Cleaner. Clearer. She says.
For my brother, it’s different. Gone too soon, everything too late, and nothing ever done. My brother is expecting his first son, and on the eve of becoming a father himself, he wanted to make peace with the man who sired him. To say, ‘I forgive you, I love you, don’t feel guilty, I am fine, I am your flesh, but I am my own, and you owe me nothing.’ But the guilty man was whisked away a moon and a half too soon for it to be said. a cowboy who never cried wept over an invisible grave today. Imagine, even that is denied him; perhaps the most important conversation he could ever have had with the man who set only one kind of example – what kind of father not to be.
I’ve never heard his music. But I’ve heard my brother and sister’s soul songs about him all my life, in all their phases. Short songs. Stuttered. Long sighs. Phrases of hope, and disappointment that wouldn’t go away. Make it go away. Songs about him, about themselves, about the love undone. The love unmade. And how they’ve tried to fix it. all by themselves. Unmade. By love.
What eats me the most is that he stood flesh to flesh with his firstborn, and while he bent over his guitar and his fingers bled warm blood of passion and treason for its ballad, he never lifted a finger in their direction. In fact, mostly he only lifted a glass, to drown the niggling feeling that he’d neglected something important.
They lived with me only till I was six. But I know their weaknesses, their powers. Their lives are woven into mine; their destinies and karmas and accountability and connection, fixed into mine. Their council is stronger than any confusion I may have, and their love is longer than any I may have had. I love these two people and my life would be less if they were not my brother and sister. But none of my love can make up for what he kept from them.
I wonder if we can forget. The dead. The ungiven love. The stolen love. The love denied. The love decried. The love we buried. The love we hide. I wonder.
Be a man. Not a cliché. Or people will hate you beyond your grave, no matter how beautiful the music you play.
I love the blood that beats.
And i will bleed for it and I believe
I will heal from it.
And everything I’ve undone.
From your hope
To your hatred
When when I die
And Everything I’ve undone.
From your faith to your fated attempts to let go
Everything I have undone
Because I made something I
Could not love
this is the song that wrote me.
And I have died from living this life this way
And breathe and bleed and try and pray.
Everything I have undone.