Thursday, January 24, 2013

Now I Become Myself

Now I Become Myself

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
'Hurry, you will be dead before-'
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Goodnight, Elizabeth

February 13, 2008
"Y'all want some dinner?"
Memphis streets are all but abandoned in February, the day before Valentine's. It's a good time to visit, if you're on the run and that's where you and your beloved might have decided to meet up, incognito. Under the radar, if you will. Under the name of, say, "Holden Caulfield" and a cash payment at the motel's bullet-proof office window. The north wind howls through an empty guitar-shaped pool in the courtyard, here at the motel across the street from Graceland. I'm a blues chord, a harmony of dissonance twice removed from the progression in this song, someone's magnum opus maybe- not mine, of course, because everything I say, everything I think, is cacophony. Hum of jet lag and Wellbutrin+Xanax and three maxed-out credit cards. I'm spilled wine on the sidewalk and a pothole chiseled by ice into Beale Street. At that restaurant name-forgotten:  The oyster-shucker gives the evil eye because he has to abandon his cell phone, but the lights are so dim all I see is you across the table. Memphis in February. The empty pool. When the maitre d swings that big door open, there is no one else there in the dining room. It's red inside, draped and heavy with velvet- VELVET! The oyster shucker fiddling with his cell phone.
"Y'all want some dinner?"

i will wait for you in Baton Rouge
i'll miss you down in New Orleans
i'll wait for you while she slips in something comfortable
and i'll miss you when i'm slipping in between
if you wrap yourself in daffodills
i will wrap myself in pain
and if you're the queen of California
baby i am the king of the rain
and i say
good, goodnight elizabeth,
goodnight elizabeth
--Goodnight, Elizabeth (Counting Crows)