'Moonglow on Mercy Street" is a collection of 50 poems, most written during 2020, that "comprise a kaleidoscopic palette of tones, moods and styles, in crafting living mythology from the world at large and within," according to their author, John Biscello. "Metamorphic bop, scat-alchemy, bare-bones blues and gospel, love songs and odes, pagan pop and cinematic remixes, make of 'Moonglow on Mercy Street' a free-range concert aimed at the imagination and the senses," he says, adding, "And, as a lyrical pilgrimage fueled by hope and wonder, it stands as a shining testament to Henry Miller's claim that 'One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.'
Brooklyn, New York-born and raised author, poet, playwright, educator and spoken-word performance artist, John Biscello, has called Taos home since 2001. He is the author of the novels "Broken Land; a Brooklyn Tale" (2012; named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year), and "Raking the Dust" (Unsolicited Press, 2016) as well as a collection of stories, "Freeze Tag" (CSF Publishing, 2012), and the gender-bending "Nocturne Variations," published in 2018.
When Tempo learned of Mercy Street, we shot Biscello an email.
"Pandemic poesy? Please do tell - just riff," we requested, knowing Biscello's poesy prose would roll out in a stream of consciousness rhythm and blues just like Kerouac, Bowles or Bukowski - taking us, the readers with him as he mined the depths of the year that will not be forgotten.
"Well it all started when this thing called the coronavirus crept into our basements and attics and collective consciousness and everything began to go a tad screwy. 'Moonglow on Mercy Street' is my second book of poems, and it's about to be published, hopefully by the end of January. And most of the poems, while not 'pandemic poetry,' were written during 2020, and so the energy, tone and zeitgeist of 2020, definitely influenced the spiritual timbre and undercurrents of the work. Themes touched upon are metamorphosis, shedding, the power of voice, storytelling and self-expression, mythology (as a modern living force in which we are participants and catalysts), dream-scaping and vision-questing, and at the core of it all, these poems are delegates of hope, wonder, faith and compassion. They are a call, not to arms, but to reclaiming our most essential selves, and doing our best to enter a new world, bravely and tenderly.
I feel like transformation is an ass-kicker, and in 2020 the bootprints of the universe were imprinted all over our collective derrieres ... yet the flip-side to all this strife, chaos and tumult are the opportunities for transformation, for deeper peeks inside ourselves and for altered perceptions. One of the poems states 'bless your broken softly,' and I feel this is a core mantra that speaks to how we can relate to the world within us and around us in a different, more supple way. Also, as you know, during times of great crisis and upheaval, the arts oftentimes thrive and flourish and undergo waves of renaissance, with poetry, painting, dance, cinema, theater and everything else creative under the sun, rising up as a natural course and energetic counter-point to 'events.' This is how we can choose to walk in beauty, to praise and harmonize. To dream worlds into being."
"Well, you asked me to riff, so I riffed," he ended his missive.
An interview with Biscello can be heard here on the KRQE broadcast: krqe.com.