Forty years ago today, on September 18, 1970 the world tragically lost the tremendously talented and visionary Jimi Hendrix at the youthful age of twenty-seven. Albeit lesser headline news, one year ago today, on September 18, 2009 we lost another genuine talent and indeed a good friend to many.

Despite his flaws, it was his ability as a poet, writer, and indeed somewhat of a renaissance man that makes me proud to call the late James (Jamie) Hamilton both my cousin, and my friend. Although I had not the privilege of knowing Jamie in earlier years as my father did, I was fortunate enough to have known him in later life, finally at peace with so many things, and finally content with so much of the cosmos. It is for this reason and others that I am happy to share with you, my loyal readers, one of my favourite poems entitled “Thanx for the Lift”.

This verse is taken from Jamie’s fourth book, Oiseaux, published in 1977.

I am certain that many of us miss him deeply and think of him on this day, however, I am equally confident that although no longer at home in Parkhill, Ontario; regardless of where Jamie may rest now, the birds still sing…           

I’d still be stuck in Dryden

In the beer of an evergreen bar,

But out of the smoke of the paper mill

Dropped an airplane disguised as a car.


A strange looking pair were the pilots

Unshaven and sneering and shifty,

They were chewing on cold blue memories

Of beating up cops in the fifties.


Their hung-over eyes needed plasma

As I skeptically opened the door,

“Jump in”, said Walter, the Blackfoot,

“We’ve always got room for more.”


It smelled like a Hillbilly Whiskey Still

And I contemplated not getting in,

“We were all pissed-up at the Ojibwa Bar,

And Tom broke a bottle of gin.”


Well I weighed my memories of Dryden

With a pound of desire to leave:

Desire is always a heavier load,

I jumped in with an ounce of relief.


And we drove, and we drove, and we drove…


At one point, far up ahead was a Chevy,

It was dragging both of its heels,

And catching up we could see that there

Were weeds growing out of its wheels.


A quick tap-dance on the throttle

And the Hollywoods howled so mean;

The places we were going

Became the places we had been.


Needless to say, on that flat, dusty day,

The ride wasn’t as long as all of Elvis’ songs

Pumping out of the four corner speakers:

Twenty-four hours of oldies but goldies

Would make anyone wicked and weaker.


But soon we’d left it all behind,

The buses, the cars and the truckers –


“Thanx for the lift to Calgary, men, and rock on you motherfuckers!!”



Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: September 18, 2010, 3:03 pm |

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