by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


photo of Michael Jackson, modified by abduzeedo

Michael Jackson - "Billie Jean (demo)".


After Michael Jackson died
the first thing he learned
was quiet.
His spirit slipped lightly from his body
It was as light as he had dreamed of being for
like diamonds, grass pollen,
the dust that sits on mirrored surfaces.

His spirit slipped like steam from a kettle's spout.
Briefly he thought of his grandmother,
and he wondered if he would see her soon,
now that he was dead,
now that his spirit was being lifted
and as he saw the doctor from Las Vegas leaning over his body, pushing at his old bones, at his chest, at the muscles he had earned this spring under silver machines, he saw himself as beautiful; strange but beautiful; in sunglasses.
It was so quiet.
Like the desert
Like honeymoon mornings
He was lifted up out of the bedroom and the house, and he could not hear the chattering televisions nor Frank's pleading shouts, nor the water lapping at the 50-foot swimming pool. He could not hear the sounds he had heard for the past forty years: cars starting, flashbulbs, photographers' patent leather voices; clink and praise from men in expensive suits, sipping from straws.

At the rehearsals
the music had been so loud,
so loud!
like monsters roaring
and the dancers strutting, leering,
Michael so old and so heavy
raising his feet and putting them down
on the floor.
Now Michael was lifted away from the house and the city and he learned quiet.
He re-learned quiet.
A lesson he had forgotten.
He thought of the leaf he had watched once in the window at Neverland
he had watched it do nothing
but be.


After Michael Jackson died
the second thing he learned
was remorse.

At the moment his spirit was lifted
through the veil of cloud and atom
that separates Los Angeles
from other realms,
God came to Michael.
He came like a season.
Michael saw signs, tremblings, promises in wind
and then God was there
raining through him
and so inconceivably large.
God touched the bottom of Michael Jackson's heart
the place where it shivers
and God showed Michael Jackson
everything he found there.
Every shadow pellet and lie and dark marble of sin,
and every half-sin,
broken promises, professional betrayals, deliberate acts of neglect,
that time with the glass ashtray
& in 1989 with the little knife
someone had left out
because although nothing really happened
something small had happened
and God saw.
God showed these things to Michael Jackson.
God showed even the worst things, the things no one understood, not the tabloids nor the courts, the sugary tarry seconds with boys whose names reminded Michael Jackson
of baloney sandwiches.
God slipped these mistakes from Michael Jackson's shivering spirit heart
& he turned them in the dark
so Michael Jackson would see.

Michael Jackson's mistakes flickered and gleamed.

And for an instant that lasted ten thousand years he felt the exactly sufficient amount of remorse
because God is a capable mathematician
when it comes to remorse.


After Michael Jackson died
the third thing he learned
was everything he had never known.
He passed through the purgatory of justice & regret & forgiveness and passed into somewhere else
where he donned a fedora
and a glitter glove
and the world was presented to him in balletic montages
images painted on velvet
messages painted in green June leaves.
Every truth and mystery revealed.
He had lain in bed at night, alone or with others, with friends, with people he loved or strained to love,
and laying stilly his heart had bucked and leapt
had dreamed of answers:
Why did he feel so alone?
Why still did he feel so alone?
Why still still did he feel so alone?
Stilly he dreamed of answers.

Now, behatted, beglitter gloved, all these answers came streaming in hungry undeniable technicolour veracity. Michael Jackson relinquished himself to them. He understood why he had felt so alone, still & still still felt so alone. He understood why his father had hated him. He understood Tito's gift, and Janet's loss, and his own greatest mistake. He understood his willowy love, why Lisa Marie had said the things she said in precisely the way she said them. He understood why he had seen his father's face in the mirror. Michael Jackson understood what had made him so special, for a handful of years in the history of human beings; understood the magic of the moonwalk, of a wild, free "Woo!"; of grabbing your crotch and dancing like a switchblade, a salmon, a moonbeam. He understood that "Billie Jean" was not a song about paternity but instead about bassline, thrust, a certain neon yearning. He understood the liberated
of his childhood songs, the worlds concealed in his boyhood choruses, wants he found words for, even then, before he knew what such wants could be, before he knew the meaning of "darling!", back in the days where he still thought he would find this, find "darling!", before he had given up, turned instead to monkeys and children, to dandelion joys; he understood that lust lasts, that it does not go away just by drinking cold water and eating apricots and chewing tiny white pills; nor by sleeping; and he understood who killed JFK, what killed Elvis, understood finally the stuff those engineers had told him about the "Smooth Criminal" shoe patent, exactly the way the mechanism worked, not just how to use it but how it worked! so simple and so genius!; and Michael Jackson learned how if he had not been a singer and dancer he could have been an award-winning zoologist, would have in this other life worked at Northwestern University, and been happy, but still lost, a little lost, and he would have died in a car accident at age 46, four years ago, in this other life, and never have been married; but Michael Jackson learned as well that it was no use to think What If.

He learned that Uri Geller was a scam artist, and Dr Tohme Tohme was a scam artist, and that Leonard Muhammad and Shmuley Boteach knew scarcely of God;
He learned that he had a true gift;
He learned that the best song he had ever recorded was "I Want You Back", and that his new album, the one with T-Pain and Will.I.Am, was not very good.
Michael Jackson learned everything, he learned the whole universe, became wise as a sage, as the wisest sage
looking upon a garden
knowing the name of every flower

and then he ascended to Paradise.


After Michael Jackson died
the fourth thing
he learned


He arrived at the place
where the dead go
when they are ready.

By the time Michael Jackson
he knew everything
and so he did not hesitate;
he came in
where it is safe &
and he felt the things you feel
in paradise.

He looked down upon the Earth and saw his sons, his daughter, his friends;
all of his friends. He
did not want them to be
maybe a little bit; but
just a little bit.)
But when they were done their mourning
he wanted his beloveds to
be so
happy, so
& he knew now that they would be
and that the probably is all right.
He saw his mother weeping and
he dispatched angels to
let her stop.
He did not think of his father.
Not in paradise.

Michael Jackson saw a million people playing "Bad" and "ABC" and "The Way You Make Me Feel", all over the world, in river towns and desert towns, skyscrapers and huts
and he saw them moonwalking and
doing the robot
under the stars.
John Lennon came out to see Michael Jackson.
"Hello," he said;
Michael Jackson had always liked English accents.
John Lennon was not angry about all that publishing rights stuff because he was dead and Michael Jackson was dead and both of them understood everything now.
They watched the people of the world doing the robot.
"Nice one," said John Lennon.
James Brown came out too. And Sammy Davis Jr. And even Louis Armstrong
for some reason
and they hung out for a while
watching humankind
sing lyrics like, "the doggone girl is mine",
or "darling!"
all of these late entertainers understanding how much these elegies matter
and how little.
In time he broke away from the famous men
and went in among the others
in paradise
to dwell. And at this point Michael Jackson was
no longer
who he was
(nor was he a child:
he was something freely
released from certain shapes & sizes
to live
as he is)

also he could fly
and turn into a switchblade
or a salmon
or a moonbeam;
or into a whole season
a whole summer of sidewalk glitz and starlit yes
for the world to inhabit
all of us loving and singing and dancing
and not knowing that this is Michael Jackson
in whom we are thriving
and making out
and inhaling the smell of mock orange blossoms.

(Michael Jackson is here
and he can still move
like he has figured out
the secret
of it.)

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at June 29, 2009 2:00 PM

I'll never be able to understand the strangely magnetic quality that Jackson seemed to inspire in so many people, but this - this I can take with me, slip inside of my pocket. This can make me believe in the mystery of the eternal boy, the Puer Aeternus, the way that innocence and repression can all fade away to simply leave a beautiful shell, something to fill in and love as one could never love before.

Posted by Sean at June 29, 2009 3:27 PM

This is fantastic, I love the part with John Lennon.

Posted by Dylan at June 29, 2009 8:18 PM

Beautiful. Well put, and well imagined, Sean.

Posted by byhowdy at June 29, 2009 11:14 PM

This is beautifully written, Sean. And yes(!), "I Want You Back" stands above the rest.

Posted by Philana at June 30, 2009 1:54 AM

dude this so true!!!
this is wat happened to the award winning zooligist

Posted by martie goldstein at June 30, 2009 11:23 AM

I don't understand the rancour of Vanity Fair in relation to this.

In the swirling torrents of tributes and memorialization, this is beautiful, thoughtful, respectful without being cloying or fawning, and, most of all, hopeful.

Is it any less respectful or truthful than Otrth's articles in their fine publication? I doubt it.

Posted by rgsc at June 30, 2009 12:24 PM

I'm going to live in this summer of sidewalk glitz and starlit yes for as long as I can, hoping to learn the secret of moving so that I too may become switchblade, salmon, moonbeam, for until we reach true remorse and understanding, I think this might be one of the best things we can do.
Thank you.

Posted by Julia at June 30, 2009 5:05 PM

sean, this cements you in my mind as one of our finest music bloggers/music writers out there. you write about music the way i feel it in my heart, and that's the highest compliment i can personally give. thank you for this; it is absolutely stunning, and beautiful.

Posted by heather at July 1, 2009 12:26 AM

this is what art does best. thank you for this incredible wonderful thing you've created, sean.

Posted by chad at July 1, 2009 1:58 AM

so very beautifully written. thank you.

Posted by suzanna at July 1, 2009 11:44 AM

Stunning. Breathtaking. Brilliant.

Thank you.

Posted by Ginger at July 1, 2009 3:57 PM

I thought you did this pretty well, too, and even caught the Dante...

Posted by Moominmamma at July 2, 2009 8:27 AM

I like this blog and I do think that Michael Jackson inspired alot of people.

Posted by joshua corley at July 2, 2009 11:29 AM


Posted by garrett at July 2, 2009 12:15 PM

Appropriate, Sober, Simple. Thank you, Sean.

Posted by Joseph at July 2, 2009 8:21 PM

Wow. What a knockout of a piece. Thank You!

Posted by Rick Saunders at July 2, 2009 9:50 PM

This is heartbreakingly beautiful and perfect in every way. Thank you.

Posted by Trista Evans at July 3, 2009 5:19 AM

Brilliant. Amidst all the noise and chaos of people trying to make sense of this - of him, his life and his passing - and you did it perfectly, beautifully, and eloquently in a simple poem. Nicely done.

BTW, There is nothing more to be said, so let's move on.

Posted by D.R. at July 3, 2009 5:50 PM

Terrific writing, Sean (and a very interesting demo, too). I heard about MJ's death at Glastonbury, where it put a strange tinge on a great weekend. That's a memorable poem.

Posted by David B at July 5, 2009 7:13 AM

Amazing. Beautiful.

Posted by Professor Zero at July 6, 2009 3:15 AM

VF's response to this cemented why i read blogs like yours and not print media re: art & entertainment. your piece was thoughtful, interesting, and freely-given. VF is a scrambling, overpriced dinosaur devoted to cheap cruelty.

Posted by chris, TX at July 6, 2009 12:46 PM

This is like a magic trick. I'm completely caught up in the illusion.

Posted by Christian at July 7, 2009 8:28 PM

After Michael Jackson Died the fifth thing he learned was, people be stupid. All he ever had to do to make the media love him, after all the chaos, after all the molested children, was to die. He should have tried it sooner.

Posted by Red at July 7, 2009 10:35 PM

One of the most pretentious things I have ever read. Utter guff.

Posted by Gill Stevens at July 8, 2009 9:09 AM

I've returned to this almost daily for the better part of a week now, whenever the distraction of the talking heads and mainstream circus threatens to bury Michael in an avalanche of reporting about the death of Michael. There is no agenda here, no scoop, no sexy tagline; There is simply empathy, love, and humanity. Your have given voice to what so many of us feel so achingly in our hearts. Thank you, Sean, for this gift.

Posted by Joshua at July 8, 2009 11:53 AM

This is like a turd in a laundry basket. I would not spoon it in my mouth and you would not want me to spoon it in yours. Won't somebody think of the children?
After Michael Jackson died the first thing he learned was nothing, he was dead. Stop foaming at the pen. Diarrhoea.

Posted by Jim Carruthers at July 9, 2009 9:59 AM

When Jesus died I pretended I knew him and that it affected me personally and that I was the most affected and hurt by this terrible news because i wanted to be the person who got the most attention. Everyone thought my eulogy was very very clever and emotional and my fragile little ego felt a bit better. Please love me again, I'm the most upset.

Posted by Sally Linfield at July 10, 2009 7:20 AM

I am struck by the extreme polarization in the comments on this tribute... I, myself, found it to be a pleasure to read: magical in parts, whimsical and indulgent in others, presumptuous, thoughtful, forgiving and damning all at once. A very complex and imaginative thing for someone to share. The comments here appear to say much more about the spirit of the commentor, rather than the merits of this very human, very touching, if imperfect piece of creative writing. My favorite review, was also the simplest. "yes."

Posted by Mike Kelley at July 10, 2009 10:15 PM

Thank you for an amazing piece of writing.

Posted by t at July 10, 2009 11:28 PM

Watching all the news pieces about Michael and listening to the radio tributes hadn't made me realize he has passed. Now, after reading this, I know he is gone. The title made my soul jump a little, it is so abruptly matter-of-fact.
I have to say, the way you made me feel (reference intended) when you spoke of God probing into Michael's sins and weaknesses.. I don't know how to describe it except link it to the feeling I get reading a particularly good piece of Shakespeare writing.
I've just discovered this blog today, and I am impressed guys!

Posted by Julie at July 12, 2009 2:11 PM

This made me cry, and I'm not a huge fan of MJ.

Posted by Kay at July 13, 2009 6:55 PM

this is really amazing. you write so beautifully, i hope you're published one day. i wasn't nearly as distraught as some people to learn michael jackson had died; it didn't affect me in any particularly deep way. but this did and helped me appreciate him.

also, just for the record, i'm pretty sure this is ten times better than the poem maya angelou wrote in his honor. just thought you should know.

Posted by Tristan at July 15, 2009 6:43 PM

I agree with your vision, poem, dream... I sometime visit the other side and this is what I see and feel when i am visiting. I also know the two dimensions are not separate as people might think! They are one in the same. How foolish of the world to think we die after we leave the body. How foolish to think we (humans) do not know all things. In the quietness from within me... i find your presentation above to be the absolute truth. Much Love J.B.

Posted by qttpie2002 at July 18, 2009 1:35 PM

I feel sullied by this huge arse-rag. Do not think this is the way of my life, I have a horse you know. This is pile of my horse's leavings on a bed of rocket with some balsamic vinegar.
"I sometime visit the other side and this is what I see and feel when i am visiting." J.B.
Ahoy ho ho har, this is too lovely to miss, I nearly died with the laughing, my milk flew out my mouth like fountains.

Posted by Linn Carruthers at July 20, 2009 9:35 AM

I wandered lonely as a kookaburra, spilling my burning seed on the face of goats. In the middle of the mound was a single golden egg, laid by the boy-king Michael. I dug and dug until I found it but it was not inside and he called me and said that life in heaven was boring and I sang a song and fell asleep in my car because I was bored of having cod for tea.

Posted by Jean Garson-Wilber at July 20, 2009 9:43 AM

the deat of micheal really touched me but i could only cry and look for solace.ooooooh,how i wish god understands my feelings,i would hav chose to die for micheal.MAY HIS GENTLE SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE,AMEN

Posted by ezeuko candy at July 22, 2009 11:33 AM

Gloved One, Loved One

Gloved, One, Loved One
(For Michael Joseph Jackson)

My heart is heavy, as I watch news footage of you gliding across the stage and gyrating your pelvis,
At this moment in time this is bigger than the Duke, man, this is bigger than Elvis!
Though you made your living with words, today there are no words to
express the way the world feels,
Right now there is no need to go into your discography because it encompasses valleys and hills.
But where do I begin, should I start with your amazing solo career or should I start with the Jackson 5,
When you were just a cute little boy,
On stage you were talented and outgoing,
Yet off stage you were introspective and coy,
In the 70's, you put the world into a trance with your 'fro and bell bottomed
jeans as you did the robot,
Michael, you had everyone at your feet because when you danced and sang you
gave all that you got!
Nat King Cole was a merry ole soul as he sat perched up against mama's old
wooden phonograph next to Billie Holiday, Roberta Flack and the Jackson's
Destiny album,
Lord, have mercy you all looked so mature, sexy and handsome!
I am old school and I remember coming home from school putting on your albums,
These were the days before CD's, MP3 players, Limewire and IPODS,
Goodness, listening to your music was heaven sent directly from God.
Ooh wee, or should I say 'hee hee hee' about that pulsating falsetto,
That reached every country, mansion, island, barrio, prison, hut, village, trailer park, suburb and ghetto!
You were a great admirer of the legendary James Brown,
It warmed my heart to see you at an award show holding his crown.
You ruled the 80's with a glittering iron glove,
Moon walking into the hearts of millions Moving as gracefully and as freely as a dove.
Newborns coming into the world already know your name,
Ailing grandparents in their last days know the same.
You are Gary¹s finest but the world dubbed you the 'Gloved One'
BAD and most definitely a THRILLER.
You are the King of Pop the 'Man In The Mirror!
You 'rocked our world¹ for over 40 years.
You gave us such memorable songs as Who¹s Lovin You, Gotta Be There,
Heart Break Hotel, Butterflies, PYT, Billie Jean, Earth Song, Can You Feel
Working Day And Night, The Girl Is Mine, Say, Say, Say, and we 'Remember The
Time' you told us that 'We Are The World' and to 'Ease on Down The Road.'
You sold out football field stadiums and integrated MTV music videos!
Back in the day we wore your buttons and donned white socks and penny
Now here we stand today in shock and sadness but we know your pain is over.
Michael, we miss you and though you said 'Heaven Can Wait', 'You Are Not
Alone', and "I Can't Help It, "Human Nature' is the reason that 'I Just Can¹t Stop Loving You'.
You were a great humanitarian a sensitive human being,
Who came to earth and completed your journey now you can have eternal rest,
The world loves you 'Gloved One' but the Lord truly knows best.
We 'Never Can Say Goodbye¹ to you 'Lovely One.'

Posted by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee at August 10, 2009 9:40 PM

I personly dont think MJ is dead but even though this poem didn't change my mind I think this is a nice poem for people who think he's dead (witch he IS NOT) so anyone who thinks he's dead I think your crazy and since all of the people who posted a commet besides me is stupid so you might want to think again!

Posted by melisa at August 25, 2009 11:38 PM

and you better see to make sure head isn't hollow

Posted by melisa at August 25, 2009 11:43 PM

and you better see a doctor to make sure head isn't hollow

Posted by melisa at August 25, 2009 11:44 PM

and you better see a doctor to make sure head isn't hollow

Posted by melisa at August 25, 2009 11:44 PM

It amazes me that onanism like this passes for poetry, I thought we'd moved on from this prissy, twee nonsense, but judging by most of the reactions on here maybe not.
Stop mythologising and navel gazing and start living in the real world. This is the only life you've got, so use it for something more constructive than masturbatory prose.

Posted by Sylvia Wenders at August 31, 2009 4:47 AM

There are people who make it their full-time job to criticize, heckle, mock, and condemn people from behind the veil of anonymity on forums across the Web, such as several found here. They take joy in tearing others down and disrespecting the dead. They think they are funnier, slicker, and smarter than everyone else. They are full of themselves. They exhibit the same mentality as the tabloids and tabloid junkies who tried to tear Michael Jackson down. Sick society. Rest in peace, Michael. You were too kind and talented and giving for this world. At the end of the day, justice will be served.

Posted by CoCo7 at September 1, 2009 1:08 AM

amazing! the best i've read on him so far.

Posted by candice at October 16, 2009 2:12 AM

Absolute beauty!

Posted by Nichele at January 15, 2010 10:09 PM

I think this is a nice poem for people who think he's dead (witch he IS NOT) so anyone who thinks he's dead I think your crazy and since all of the people who posted a commet besides me is stupid so you might want to think again!

Posted by kurtlar vadisi pusu at February 19, 2010 10:09 AM

the storie is nice bt some of the things r nt true

Posted by yonela at March 5, 2010 3:30 PM

Reading this for the first time since I originally read it in 2009, it's still as evocative as ever and a very fine tribute to Michael Jackson.

Posted by tanya at December 26, 2010 9:27 PM

Just found this unfortunately. I'm a big fan of MJ but this kind of mythologising makes me feel sick. Faux-religious, faux-spiritual claptrap. MJ was a hugely talented musician and singer no doubt and no doubt also he was hugely misunderstood and probably quite disturbed, but let's stop the mass-grief syndrome, it's ridiculous.

Posted by Caruthers at April 28, 2011 11:30 AM


Posted by Maureen at July 6, 2011 1:45 PM

As a huge Michael Jackson fan I found this piece to be highly insulting, both to my intelligence and the memory of MJ.

For example - "He thought of the leaf he had watched once in the window at Neverland, he had watched it do nothing but be."

really really bad 'poetry' using cliched, hackneyed ideas of simplicity, the beauty of nature, peace in death etc etc. I'm astonished at some of the positive comments on here at what is essentially a fawning, badly written worship piece about a talented but deeply disturbed man who none of you knew.

Posted by Seely at September 14, 2011 6:05 AM

I am a loaf, come eat my bread. Your bread is dry oh sire, your bread is old and dry. Wet it with the tears of the boy-king and ye shall eat. We shall, we shall, oh sweet rejoicing, we shall.

Posted by Steven Hacker at January 17, 2012 7:34 AM

Exquisite. These words bring so much clarity and so much beauty.

Posted by Autumn Rio Heart at December 24, 2014 12:33 PM

You know, this is awful this. I am crying into my pyjamas.

Posted by John Bushell at July 22, 2015 11:51 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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