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

Friday, June 18, 2004

I Know Such Beauty Still

For someone who has accumulated so little,
I seem to have a lot of little things,
Whether preserved or accidentally kept
Or tucked away or spilling out like boys at play—
It’s odd just which things in the world will stay.

I run across them now and then,
Pictures and small decorations,
Oddments of different kinds,
Dusty things, dull or waxed or dingy things,

Leftover pieces and parts,
Black metal music machines and softish dreams,
Early technologies and quasi-arts
I can barely call the names of any more.

Things that I stopped in the middle of making,
Arts and Crafts projects,
Like that one braided belt I couldn’t complete,
Things ill conceived, badly done, or tangled,
Or hard things that were always breaking

Or soft things that would just never fit,
Like that wallet with leather parts too thick to sew,
Possessions of little value too valued to throw away.
Some things get lost too easily, I grant,
Yet others seem to cling.

Slides I took of Dan and Charlotte’s happy wedding,
Made moot by hostile divorce and my own estrangement.
Crinkled poems I sent copies of to people I once loved;
Unrelenting Christmas cards received in twos and ones—
Now all the addresses are changed, it seems.

Now all these things are strewn and stuffed
In cluttered boxes, cabinets, and drawers.
What can one do, after the rise and the rush of events,
With wornout remnants still in evidence
Of these losses and lost friends?

Envelopes that remain—some bottle-ringed, stained, and mottled,
Some pristine;
Some empty,
Some with bent-cornered post cards or folded yellow pages spilling out.

Those old receipts, reminders, questions, answers,
Paper peregrinations, perambulations, and forgotten nascent thoughts,
The letters I penned and posted back in youthful haste—
Meaningful these days only to a few old hearts.

Books my friends wrote in—inscriptions, notes, graffiti.
One, who loved Durrell’s Quartet as I did,
Said he’d see me “in another book”—
Some did, some didn’t, George, and some Will yet, I guess.

Some, like you, may dream sweet music to the bitter end
And wish to paint those Dali-esque landscapes in reality,
But reality seems so far away now, back when no one we knew got sick,
I don’t even know how to begin that measure or if you in fact are dead.

Drawings in black and white by friends who now live far away,
Hidden, stored in folders for decades, hung now on paneled walls.
Sketches, sometimes of me, Art and otherwise, now draw me in,
Remind me, remand me, return me for a while in thought,
Where a sense of those old days surrounds me, but never stays.

I tracked dear Wilfried down in Friedberg after 30 years
And we were elated at first. He said he’d long ago abandoned Art
But that it didn’t matter. Too soon, he had no more to say,
Not even of his birds. His life is blurred and lost again in Germany
And, no matter what I say, my old friend is lost to me anew.

Things that people left behind—
A fine line drawing by that Hessian, perhaps,
Or a notebook cover some thoughtless lover
Once scribbled patterns on
Or wrote her treasured name across…

What was a purple and white macramé hatband,
Made for me in happy days by a woman I possessed,
But now so faded two colors have for years been one.
The leather hat I made myself—long gone.
It is so strange how some things stay possessed
Whether I have retained them or not!

Bill’s yellowing old blue-lined address book,
Left here years ago and not returned or sought;
It’s still around, moved from here to there
And back again as time goes by.

I spot it now and then among toy dragons, beside a butterfly in glass,
Some battered insect and cactus books collecting dust, a slight smell like must,
Reminding me of those fungus-scented, antique-timbered, unswept rooms
Where Bill and Waldine worked at Coppini’s defunct old sculpture studio.

Last year’s snapshot of Paula,
Brown-haired with a sprinkle of gray,
Seated with her daughter’s handsome happy half-Tibetan baby boy.
It does not seem so long ago she was a college girl
I made love to and tried but failed to love.

Around and round I went with her like a dog on a bone until perversely
We were friends again. She knew how I’d tried to hate her,
But gave me her forgiveness. I don’t see her much any more,
But I know she makes a very handsome grandma now
And feels remarkably good to hug.

Two black and white old photos of a high-school girl,
My sweetheart then and blonde, but long ago turned gray,
A bright young beauty twice preserved
In glass and silver frames she gave me with her heart.
She’s been discreetly displayed just so for thirty years—

One photo with a smile and one quite serious but serene.
I’ve kept them in this or that room
In each succeeding home I’ve had without her.
Though she’s another’s wife, and plump and flushed and older,
I know that beauty still.

At times I can’t believe I still conserve these foolish things,
These old and sometimes faded dried-up near-forgotten things.
My life is only here upon this page and spilling out once more
Where nothing new is wondrous or will stay,

But I have known a few who were the best,
Of whom I am reminded by all these little things
How good it was to know them
And that I know such beauty still.


10th draft: 06/18/04
©2003 Ronald C. Southern

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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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