There were days that even Judy had the Blues.
But there are days when all lost souls do...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Painted Lady


There was something tender my first and most perverse girlfriend—
Handsome, sweet but never angelic schoolgirl Carmen!—
Wrote to me half a year after she'd moved away. She’d always
Been unstable, unpredictable, taunting, daunting, and alluring,
But none of that could disclose the author of this message.

On a magazine photo of that ugly yet beautiful Dylan Thomas,
She mysteriously scribbled, "This is you!"
With initials appended which at first I could not discern.
Also a scrap of art paper with no intended decoration that I recall
Except that hand-lettering I later came to know as hers which read:

I love you.
I have always loved you.
I will always love you.

I'd never heard such talk—
I was only a high school student—
Such romance and passion were still so thin and new!
I felt so light and soaring, uplifted as by a butterfly’s wings!

Behind my door at home I cried with joy and confusion
Because the narrow world seemed suddenly so wide!
Our relationship of attitudes, aches, and separations soon ensued
And rushed us forward almost drunkenly—!

I with my fussy weekend boxes of Benson & Hedges,
My new ascot, the fury new in me to touch her,
To grasp her, to play and never let her go!
(How little did I know that grasping was as far as I would go!)

She with her demi beatnik unsense of style and offbeat grace—
Those black skirts and practical shoes and wondrous sweaters!
Her impulsive knowing embraces and awkward virginal rebuffs!
(Emotions out of control as new to her as they were to me.)

We started happily with so much certitude that year,
Yet parted in disarray before the next,
Dismayed by each other’s platitudes and her sudden case of mono.
Called kissing sickness,” she smiled, not as a joke—
It’s too contagious to keep kissing,” she insisted.

I said I wouldn’t mind and tried another fondle.
She grimaced, “Don’t be foolish.”
One weekend soon made it clear she wanted other things
When she preferred a girlfriend’s beach house to my visit—
I threw a fit, of course; she slammed the door in my face.

I drove in angry circles from here to near Galveston all day,
Mick Jagger singing “Paint It Black” on every station,
Getting louder and louder to drown me out.
I fell past darkness into a fugue of funk without her
And after that I didn’t care I flunked my senior year.


I saw her once again a few years later—
In another life, it seemed—
At a run-down Austin mansion
I lived in with seven others.
I discovered her on the sunroof when I returned one night.

I was chagrinned she’d spent the hours waiting for me
In conversation with my most annoying friend.
With all the curiosity of an insect collector,
She’d come to investigate what kind of bug I'd become
And disclose to all indifferently how she herself had emerged.

Do you like to fuck?” she asked as if to annoy me.
“Would you like to find out?” I snapped.
We smiled half-heartedly and made no move;
Whether with too much tenderness or too little,
We still couldn’t guess or feel each other’s groove.

By her expression and easy demeanor at departure,
I could infer that she was pleased with herself and with her visit,
But was it her or was it me who felt we’d failed
To find the mirror image of that butterfly?

After that, at last,
She was nearly something Past,
No more than an evocation, a trace,
A touch of pentimento underneath,

And I could once again
Paint these memories of her as I wished,
Presuming I cared to remember
Either as a butterfly or a moth!


Decades later a TV documentary
Presented a woman named Carmen so briefly,
She was almost no more than a flutter of wings in flight,
As attractive as any painted lady, with wings or without;

I could see she’d come through the metamorphosis
Of her bad times, heartaches, and blues—but was she the one?
I could neither confirm nor deny her in that fully adult stage,
Not her face or voice or pains, nor wing pattern, eyespots, or veins!

Pages on the Internet
Seemed to pin her down in a small Texas town
I’d passed through once, even photographed—
But I didn’t go back. I simply ceased my search.
But why? Was it really her or not?

Did I foresee or fear that if I found her,
She’d smile and think me foolish once again?
I swore then that I’d let that dream forever lie.
Such romance and passion now are old and out of fashion, but
Not dead—just hid beneath old coats of paint, except what I recall.


Current draft: 4/27/2010
Created on 3/29/2010 5:19 PM

1. Painted Lady is a fairly common type of butterfly with five prominent white spots in an upper quadrant of the wings..
2. Pentimento—the revealing of a painting or part of a painting that has been covered over by later painting, or the covered painting itself. In either case, it is usually presumed the artist “repented” and altered all or part of the design.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I could tell that young man of yours,
But never impress him at all,
How unconcerned I too used to be
About saying Fuck It, I’ll make my own rules.

How self-satisfied I’ve always been
About saying it,
Always thinking
That I’d catch up later if I had to.

Having a lot of intelligent yet aberrant attitude
Hasn’t actually worked out all that great in the end—
I mean, here, where I am, that’s maybe just a rabbit hole,
But seems rather close to the end.

Young people are too self-absorbed, of course,
To listen to such drivel as this very much—
They think they’re different, and that older people are duds.
Maybe it’s just me—they sound like the same jerk I was—

But I’d hate to be in the position
Of trying to talk to a stone
When I’ve already gone down myself,
With nothing but stones for buoyancy.

Every generation has to differ
From the last, I guess—
Like all this addle-pated nonsense now
About what kind of sex isn’t sex.

Odd, but it’s all been sex to me,
Though it now keeps getting odder
As some exaggerate the difference,
Some split a mighty fine hair.

Sodomy’s sodomy,
Whether you tell or care,
Self-abuse is what it appears,
Just something to do in your underwear,

And true love is always true love,
However unknown or suspect.
What’s worse, this slow deterioration of all that’s perfect or fair
Is always encroaching, always there.

The college education that young man of yours
Rejects so competently, rings a distant bell in me.
My own rejection bleeds from me these days
Almost like drops of blood—Christ, what was I thinking?

College wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, I see now,
For the usual piddling, wearing reasons—
Like less labor expended in the long run
When you’re tired to death of the run,
And more money with which to pad even this padded cell.

Once you’re down and out and bent a bit from all these years
Of saying the same old thing, it might be easier to say
From a crappy desk chair
Than from behind some service counter or out in the field.

In truth, it’s almost impossible
To say these days. Or unsay.
At some point, it begins: you can’t catch up
With the world again until it ends.

Now with feet getting hard to lift, it all starts to go adrift,
The seeming passing of the gift—
All these organs and ornaments of flesh in distress
Now sag, flag, and drag toward a new address
Where one’s balance goes finely askew.

Money keeps naked poverty at bay,
But what can it really buy?
What can it say?
What if no more than this:

Whatever balm or anesthetizing agents
There are these days
For all the gaping vicissitudes of Love and
Whatever else remains—

Whether it be love delayed or love decayed,
Perverted love or devoured love
Or a mother’s mad devoted love—
Or for all the multifaceted forms of bruised perversity
That a society obsessed with diversity can provide.

For me intellect and art
Never took a back seat
To the bazaar or the bizarre,
But oh how one comes to dread the commonplace—

Arthritis, and lost circulation and teeth.
Straining knees and back and eyes,
This cold disorder and defect.
The decline and ill repine of sex

Or just finding out
That death’s not such an easy out
As one’s younger, tougher, callow self
Used to expect.

Your young man wouldn’t want to know it about me—
After all, who am I? But what about himself?
What happens when you can’t get started is one thing.
What happens when your malady can’t get stopped?

It occurs to me in a panic
Like some crazy concept of hell
That Time is waiting and may not stop—
How would we know, when none before us ever tell?

It’s like that stupid battery bunny on TV—
A toy that just keeps going and going,
Even if everyone has now walked away
And the bunny keeps doing its flip for no one.

Everything always ends up being about me, you’ll agree,
Yet one can’t plainly say it, explain it, or defend it.
So let that young man listen till he drops, still I cannot tell,
Not now, or not in time, perhaps not ever,
At least not until it stops.


7th draft: 3/14/2010
6th draft: 11/23/03

©2003 Ronald C. Southern

Saturday, March 13, 2010


(Escape From Disaster)

The storms that move us move in fast
From wild-way waters formed in waves
That blast the shore to rags,
Rush in from oceans wracked with ruin and rage,
Where winds are born and Gods die torn,

Building all at once from vague
Small hummings in our heads to a
Dynamo of numbing sound aswirl
Around our horses’ tossing heads,

Moving the quiet to desperation
And the sullen to feelings of dread.

Do you not feel it coming, moving from
The east, the southeast, and southwest?
Moving like a mountain to the prophet,
A mountain all of air all aswirl?

Here it comes, it’s coming, blowing
The spray from sea to shore to sea again,
Raging and heaving and twisting
The rail and the house and the town.

All: all about will be wrested out from
The root and the base and the ground;
All: all will be sighing for the wreck
To be wreaked on the land.

Now hear how the horses are breathing,
Feel how they’re missing the beat;
It’s time to be turning and going,
Down through the churchyard and street.

Fly past the doctors, the lawyers, the hearse,
Run down the children who cling to their nurse,
Trample the clerics who cry, but cry too late,
Who look above and ask for what He waits—

But the wind all awhirl
Whips their cassocks in their faces,
The whip of the wind in its swirl
Tears the fabrics from their laces,

And we are up and going, we are up and gone,
We ride them down like cattle and in a moment
We are gone, out through the gates at morning,
Out through the gates at dawn.

On to the castle, the castle!
On to the dark inland keep!
Out of the sweep of the carnage,
Out from the harbor to nightfall,
Nine fell men hard-ride.

We come to the drawbridge and cross it,
But the door is closed and held;
Twelve men are felled before us
As the storm comes up from behind.

Put seven horses in stable,
Give seven horses their hay;
Two fell in the blood-spray of battle,
But these must have their hay.

Set seven places at table,
Give seven men their feast;
Two fell in the doorway behind us,
Trod down by the fall of their beasts.

“Drink! Come drink, my fellows,
and quarrel no more till the morrow—“
but quarrel is the watchword
this night of souls at sorrow.

Now five lie dead upon the floor,
That hurt nor wound will take no more
(their fathers’ ghosts soft-sighing,
hard hearts unlearned, still vying).

“Fight no more,” the last man with me cries,
“Rise up and heed the air!
What makes this aimless din a-ringing
Atop the spiral stair?”

Now up, now up, and

Here we stand on the pinnacle,
Here we stand by the bell,
Gazing from the wind-torn top of the spire
To the eye of the whirl of the storm…

And here it comes, it’s coming!
Shaking the basement and casements and stair—
God’s fist of air hard shakes us,
Foundations shift and forsake us.

Go back down, go quickly,
Take the stairway now in haste!
The smooth-stoned steps of our fathers
Are trembling and quaking in place.

Oh, hurry now, I beg you,
I dread the wresting hand;
The sound of our Father’s strength in fury
Is both wreck and wreak of the ruin of the land.

Quick, make way, I tell you!
I tell you, save yourself!
Christ, give way, move quickly!
I’ll trample your breath to blood-spray,
I mean to save myself!

Dear God, we’re on the ground,
Dear God, we do believe!
But now I look around me,
I’m the only one around.

The dust, the dust is risen from
The bell-wrung riven tower lying all aruin all around;
All mixed with rain and blood in spatters
As I bend alone in horror before the power and the sound.

I cannot see or hear or feel,
For the earth is hung in dimness,
And my lungs are filled with mud and gore,
And the air I breathe’s a whirlwind
Blowing the blood-spray through me in a roar
From shore to sea to shore.

All: all about is wrested out from
The root and the base and the ground.
All: all is sighing for the wreck
That is wreaked on the land.


3rd draft: 3/13/2010
2nd draft: 2/25/2003 7:17 PM
©1981 Ronald C. Southern

Monday, March 08, 2010

Dog and Pony Dream

(Happy Birthday To Me)

We may start with some
Far-fetched heroic vision or shining sculpture,
A kingly sword stuck into a stone perhaps,
But the images are only sparkling ice that momentarily ennoble
Some facile dirty-faced kid’s frosted birthday cake—

It gleams and melts, it cuts both ways
For both the artist and his art—
First too sharp and then too cold,
First cutting you, then cutting me,
Whatever it happens that we don’t like
Will happen on this day.

Now traces and shards of steel and ice we’ve known so long
Find too many candles on the cake for such a kid,
I confess; they heat and melt both the pretty icing and the ice,
And something hasty, lightning-fast, shoots across our wiring
And phases out these networks of neurons and nerves
That used to let us feel this celebration,
But now explodes and leaves an awful mess.

And so we deftly watch ourselves—
As cold or bleak as Lazarus,
Coming from the grave or going there—
Get rubbed clean of cake and drink, then dusted off
By some sweet Genie from the past grown harsh and thin.
What’s that lady doing here at all, I ask—
I said it’s my birthday!

More, I wonder if such a lapsed old pony trick or doggie fix
As I imagine would even work these days?
It would be a wonder
If one of those old queens of dead certainty
Should return with her guns drawn to the scene of the crime,
Alive with angst and able to anger me still,
Wearing skirts of unwed circumstance
In shades of unfettered royal blue and rust.

It’s many myths and mists since they’ve been gone.
No one to speak of or none I can recall
Ever came round asking about those mysterious souls
Or telling the last of their tale, if there is one,
To this bent and ragged rhymist.

It’s as if they are dead
And have always been dead.
Maybe I suspected otherwise at times—
I did hear secondhand rumors once—
But I’ve kept that opinion to myself.
What’s the point of showing everyone
The proof that I’m crazy like they said
Or that I’m crazier than they are?


Current draft: 3/8/2010
Created on 12/22/2009 7:46 PM

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blew Away

Frankly I don't see any more
What would be so bad
If I turned awry to the world one day
And it all just blew away.
Darling, would you pull the trigger
Or would you cover me?

You Catskill girls, you blew your kisses to me,
And I flew away like some balloon that’s been released.
We were all the same specks of color in the sky,
An all-adoring audience looking to and from the heavens.
I was unstable, yet still somehow you tethered me to earth.
You were so democratic and free while the best of us
Were listless fools wasting time on useless chatter.
We feigned surprise when you took the next cloud out.

I still recall your girlish names and cant, and wonder
Which you kept and which you can’t. You never were
Too slim, and it’s rumored you became a woman
Full blown beneath the babble of the dance,
A married one, as we’d expect, who took responsibility
At the same time that you continued to let it drop.

I guess you couldn’t help but let yourself float about.
No matter how your learnings progressed.
You were still a butterfly, after all.
Maybe it was after that pained young man in D.C.
Went down through the upstairs window in a trance
Before you got it straight.

Could you come back again and not find fault?
Could I? Even if we each took the veil too often
And disapproved of one another and disappeared,
Surely I couldn’t refuse you any more,
Any more than you could recuse yourself.

Wouldn’t all of us just be right back at it,
Cruel sardonic kids again without excuse.
We are older now and doubt far more,
Can’t take the same abuse again, or won’t, yet
We still must find out truth and beauty where we can.

And though I may accuse you all
In every vicious affidavit of the heart
And in every demon silence heard
From the towers of the bleeding homeland
To the middle of anemic America,
We are not strong and this is not the heartland any more.

Maybe you’re a grandma and see your beauty there or
Maybe you’re as sick and stuck as I am, thinking
How love’s pubescent power went south, went sour—
How long ago love went, yet never quite reached zero!
I miss you every day and every night, however it displeases,
But it doesn’t make much sense, it doesn’t make me better.

I see you in the seasons’ signs and all the sighs and stages.
It’s the glue in all the fameless moments in between.
I weep now every hour for our nameless legion’s swollen feet
And for the old taboos and ghosts that linger on,
And for these creaks and croaks that echo far inside us,
And yet—I make no sound or sign of tears for you
Beyond an occasional savage blitz of poetry like this…

What difference would it make
If I could cry or make you cry in turn?
It would not signal clarity at this or any age—
We’d still be nearly strangers, just bumping
Into shadows whether live or on the page.
It wasn’t always plain to me,
The marriage of true minds
Would first require true minds.

“Has she had much love?” I am asked in a dream.
Not enough, I deem—or is that me projecting
Once again instead of seeing? What does it matter
When what I think cannot infuse her image or my own,
Or bring about any love or action or any
Sweet concoction or magic potion
Of any precise and stalwart merit
That man alone can name or make?
“Love is always Duty!” Fidelity asserts.
Love is hard, I answer back.

Time creeps up.
Time might do for us
Or it might do worse,
Or it might do us in for a lark—
It always seems to be trying too hard—
But it’s had a great success, precious Catskill, in trying me.

There are no proven statements,
There are no ways around. This pain—
The heavy heart and head and heel—ends always as a strain
On unhygienic parts—maybe we can ignore it, maybe not.
This body is, by definition, a transient thing that is in decay
And must be healed. Our doctors and our dreams both tell us so.

Even so, with every breath and denial and defiance of God,
We’re always bending down on now disproven ground.
We no longer purport that we can improve this drama,
Either by church or club or school,
But wear those same old colors, collars, styles, and hats,
While life goes on without awards until it stops.

Was it more than grounds for divorce when we fell out
Or just the usual yeasty grief and tremors?
Now all the cautions I espied in a lady's see-through blouse
Tell what about the startled trembling in a hand that darts away?
Now who has been most wounded—you or me?
I chose to be invisible, chasing named and nameless gods
Through the latchless house and out the back screen door.
In many ways—in memory I judge—
I was often nearly non-existent.

Even if it's only you or me who may remark
That it’s our last good nerve I stand upon—
I remember all your cleverness, Catskill girl,
All your curves and laughs, but can't recall your name.
I made one up for you, as if you’re alive
On the edge of your seat with me
Or in the center of goodbye.

But few return here except in fantasy.
They abstain, after they grieved, after the grave,
They won’t return and I won’t leave,
Not here where I'll always be in laughter or in pain
And where I wear so much makeup for the staged event
And so little heart on my extended sleeve.

I don’t suppose it’s well known
That I miss you every day and every night,
And all of hazard’s moments in between—
It’s where I weep now, when I can,
Every mote of every hour
With no sound or sign of tears.
What's left to explicate or explain?

What if all of it is really not-so-good and not-so-bad,
Just equally cold and hot in another tepid teapot?
Old friends drop in by mail sharing little information,
But showing photos of their children
And their pets, which it’s well known I lack,
And they advise me or imply that I am more than lost.

There has been no perfect piece of art for me—
Though what would I not have given for it!
Reality went by so hurriedly, the rest just followed through.
It would never have been seen.
Is life like that—no nearer than our dreams?

Those dreams as shapely as a seashell’s whorl
And dizzying as the seagull’s flight or light as some surfer’s
Swift and brief delight, but nothing more. These days
We calmly tuck our wrinkles in like old shirttails.
So, was beauty just a Trick in which we all conspired?

What would it matter any more
If the tilt of a lady's hips could roll the stone away
Or the hint of her sandalwood scent affirm it all again
Or the lilt of some intemperate voice in a crowded room
Be recognized at once and start to wind
My old chronometer too tight for the resurrection?
Could we re-compute every sanction and consent
We’ve kept dangling from our pocket or our purse?

Right here, and now, is where each lonely kingdom's thrall
Cried out for proof and begged to see
How these imperfect purple loyalties and thrones
And faded blue denim pants we’ve sat upon so long
Fell down like broken bones and rags and burned to ash at once
As the soul itself shriveled like parchment amid such nakedness
And it all just blew away.

Original draft: January 24, 2008
Current draft: January 18, 2010
A Polemic On Regret And Resentment
(A Scattering Of Leaves In A Dusty Wind)

Friday, October 23, 2009


Oh God

this burning in the quick:
the cold heat of passion
too logically displayed:

the sullen issue: these clouds
about to burst with storm
from a heaven in the void:

this distant voice: my only child: heedlessly
weeps in long discursive rhyme: stamping its feet in fits
and starts: rending the tissue of time.

The mother whose artless tongue
our speech together made inarticulate
as a song unsung: or peal

of splendid grief that's rung
as clearly as a bell: but
does not translate: does not tell.

Bright sunlight shining on distasteful sheets: the
stain of something torn from us in seminal, sleepless
searching: the soft worn pillows of careless embrace:

in pain the open palm extended:
timid voices swollen with the seed and scent
of futurity and yearning and all our brave intent:

this rush of blood in the braincells of guilt and shame:
ennui and fear born in the innocence of tears: the
sharp wet spear of resplendent hope: buried to the hilt.

Damp eyes more lovely than the
treasure of our most ardent dreams:
where flesh and flesh dispel the dream:

weeping, sad and loving, through our panic:
for we do not Know: and in the endless
sea our eyes desire, but not to only see.

Our clumsy swimming in this wet
eternal tide: groping slowly through
the distance: across this mire of pride:

and so as such our fingers touch and limbs entwine
as one: blonde on blonde beset by, spun by,
entangled in: this always-done, this tireless locked desire.

Oh God

this loss and gain: our lives at best
or worst remain disordered or immersed
in this expiring fire:

the white flesh of our fractious hope:
(Dark hearts forever lost and found at last!):
the endless ardor of this pain:

but all our knowledge of the whining in
the science of the blood is measured in
the silence of the soft dying fall.

This: only this then, after all: this cool
burning fire in the flow of time: the stubborn
yearning of the child: the father's foreign grasp:

this world we bear in pain, born too early
in some other mind: these sad children whom we
clasp: the dim despair unwinding as we wane.

and in the heart of circumstance an eye that
can but see: the whirl of evidence that fails to
mesh: as dream conspires with dream against our flesh.

the sight, the plight, the pout: these pallid
arms glide in and out of wrinkled purple sheets:
in our climactic and unmeaning search for—cigarettes!

all in all, a scene too mild to lift
this pall or break it's grip on
these persistent motions that we make:

the look of horror on this face that licks my
flesh: these hands that seek to form my features
to receive: so serious, yet so fatuous, a kiss!

the calm abstraction of a whore who
knows who came to whom: but with such
an unknowing eye: like my own stupid pride.

And yes: oh yes: this loss laid out upon the bier of touch:
these are my coins upon the bed: my thrill upon my lips:
here my brazen tongue lies: there my sheathless sword:

the coitus of knowing's first and last desire: with
such great heart we leap into the fire, but clutch
these dreams we hoard so hard we come together untoward.


4th draft: 10/23/09
©1985 Ronald C. Southern

Sunday, November 18, 2007


You could make yourself cry about anything, I guess,
The more that time and circumstance progress—
I mean myself, not you.
Still, why should I be sad tonight?
These thirty years later,
I’m sure you would be vividly alive
If only, Death be damned, you were alive
And not the dead who failed to navigate
That icy northern street, Diana, where you bled
And we didn’t know to cry. It’s so long ago.

You were my high-school girlfriend’s best friend since youth
And later her giddy college roommate—
Just two more headlong girls their first fast year away from home.
You looked straight through me when I advised you all
To close your bedroom blinds, even on the second floor,
When you undressed at night.
“No one below can see!” you laughed, squinting out at me through
Granny glasses that almost hid your wild unwary eyes.

No one took my advice back then and not much more
Of it in all the time and distance traveled since.
I dated you once, a silly date where nothing happened
Except in me: a tight-wound soaring and a sigh
That made no outward mark or sound—
We never even kissed.
Later, my girlfriend—your girlfriend!—made up with me and it
Was then a great relief all round, that unaccomplished kiss!

We were friends after that—not the best of friends, perhaps,
But now and then, far and near, still friends.
Once, when I took some psychedelic drug, I thought
You were a witch or at least that you looked the part!
I didn’t mean to let it show, but still I was unnerved.
“We all have some form of discomfort with reality,”
My girlfriend Jeanne consoled (and passed another funny cigarette),
"For whether we get High or Low, it peeks back in at us!”

Once when I hadn’t seen you for six months or so
And I arrived full-force in my new long-haired guise
Of hungry, proud, and poor,
You served a generous supper and shook with laughter till midnight,
Especially when you’d found I’d taken up
That silly sixties hippie habit
Of blurting out, “Far out!”
Multiple times in a single conversation.

Perhaps because I said it with my familiar tone of flippancy,
You chose to find my idiocy delightful to the Nth degree
And your fresh freckled face—those contradictory features,
A schoolgirl’s upturned nose, an old-maid teacher’s pursed-up mouth—
Became as vivid as your long red hair!
At last you had to take your glasses off to wipe your eyes
And I thought, just in that moment, I’d never seen before
A woman wearing or needing so little makeup.
It was such Beauty!

But that moment, like the others, soon was lost.
Such beauty passed, yet I survived
To be this wretched, bowed, and crooked self.
Time now makes all these views of you seem true at once—
Except your death.
Can there be no relief at all for those of us not yet released?
Jeanne said she waited for that spectral visit
You promised each other in seventh grade, but the messages
That came to her only came in dreams and to me not at all…
Why is there not some way to recall You instead of memory?
Christ, how I’d love to see you vivid once again!

I was sick of you when you died, hating you almost
For dating that Delaware con-man
Who spoke such manly gibberish.
Was that Engineering-Speak or Business Ghoul
Or just plain Northern Geek?
It’s funny that I don’t remember any more than that,
That his was not the language of Romance that you deserved.

Poor old Romance! It’s suffered so
These thirty years run by
With nothing left now I adore.
It’s disappeared into thin air
Like some bad joke,
Like all those coffin nails and joints we smoked,
Like my old youthful certainties,
Like these new tears for you will do…

You deserved better than this weakness you would have found in me,
But better too than that insensate educated fool you wed,
And certainly better than this hard-closed door
That you stepped through too soon,
That even I at last deplored…
That closure’s lasted now so long that I’ve been ashamed of my anger
Longer than I was angry, longer than I loved you—
God, longer now than you were alive!

Now that’s a knot in time
(Or is it in my stomach or in my head?)
I may never manage to untie.
But why should I be sad tonight?
All Time’s the same to you, dear ghost; it’s always kind—

But just as Jeanne and Adam’s now-grown children
Or my gray-peppered beard give proof I’m growing old,
So your remembered youth and beauty make me feel vain and false tonight,
Here where my moment’s joy and love and beauty have long been lost.


9th draft: 11/18/07
©2000 Ronald C. Southern

Judy Garland's Blues

Why was Judy Garland sad?
Did she have everything—but not love?
What drove Judy Garland mad,
Or do I give her too much credit?

Was she just privately unlucky, after all the public luck?
Did she have two armfuls of nothing in the worn valises
She dragged into another mansion of expenses, pills, and airs
Amid lost things never declared, forever beyond her reach?

Did she have everything—but not love?
Was she too often left behind as a child
Or was she poisoned in the vein
As by too many drinks or a rattlesnake...

Twisted by some familial demon spirit she became
That Voodoo spirit, the reel and spin, the deadly living blues,
Forever frightened—no matter her age or image or magic—
Of what to choose and what to lose, out of control to the end?

Did she, like you, like me, have everything—
But could not feel the love that others gave
Or stay as brave as needed every moment?


Current draft: 4/12/2010
3rd draft: 04/26/05
©2004 Ronald C. Southern br/>
[This is a separate and different title from the blog title.]

Colorful Judy

The Creature

Ron Southern,
Chigger, Texas, USA

Personal Labels:

Clean and easy-going. Dirty-minded, paranoic, catatonic, droll, drastic, dramatic, savage, uptight, dribbling, abstruse, and timid.

Not to even mention artful, artistic, abusive, misleading, abrasive, manipulative, dodgy, sneaky, and totally unforgiving!

How about poetic, pansified, petty, pornographic, always preening, and a little peculiar about what feels good!

The Poem With The Similar Title

©Ronald C. Southern

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