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

Thursday, February 22, 2007


“You do not suffer close enough,” is what the distant voices said,
“and all your talk of this and more is becoming less and less.
Self-centered though we are at heart, survivors of war and peace,
small shrewdness is required to know the next victim of the feast.

“If you were here or we were there,
your suffering would impact us more, of course,
but that is neither here nor there.
You live at distances both real and surreal--willfully
disconnected, disastrously alone, tragically but safely apart.

“You must, we fear, suffer more or less as we do
or as others who are near and nearer to our hearts.
Justice demands that recognition, yes, but little more,
and less and less of that as these frayed threads
of time and separation gather toward an end.
That some break and others bend seems to surprise you even yet.

“So is that sad? Oh, yes, what else?
We sit in carefully bordered rooms each evening,
pining for what is lost in you and in ourselves,
pitying our surrender to surfeit or starvation,
nestled in exclusive harbors, where some ships leave and some arrive,
in sporadic dread of who goes next. No one wins, but some survive.

“We know you do not suffer gladly
the fools we are and must be to succeed,
but that's the levy, old mariner, of failures of your own,
divergent from ours, not worse perhaps, but dour freight,
resembling more an anchor than anything that floats.

“And you, at your safe distance,
press clamorously a slow cold measure of protest
against the hammer's heated claims upon your heart,
that pulsation of anger, compulsion, and frustration,
a churning churlish stain which makes uncertain
whether you or those you buffet will be next.

Ancient Mariner and wedding guest

“You are one of us still, we know, but what we know
to love in you seems always masked behind that manic stance.
Your decades-long dance of desperation, old mariner,
by now elicits small panic in these ageing wedding guests.

“And is that sad? Well, yes, close enough, but still
you must desist this remorseless clanging in our ears.
We feel as much, if not the same, as you,
marking boundaries as you do, pursuant to our pain.”

4th draft: 08/09/01
©1995 Ronald C. Southern

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Texas Crude (Fischer's Tune)

He went away on a ship a long time ago,
Slipping away quietly out of the noisy harbor,
Sailing with regrets-to-come and no-fanfare
Out of the inland port.

The city behind him disappeared in haze
As the ship moved slowly through the channel to the sea,
And the last things that he saw, perhaps were the tall black
Towers and the storage tanks choked with Texas crude.

We said goodbye,
We said farewell,
And being young we could not know
The changeful nature of all we felt and said.

He sailed back home to Germany
And for a while we wrote, exchanging views
Of Zappa, Beatles, books, and style.
But soon we ceased; we were young, and cold, and true,
And never knew the changeful nature of such views.

"Well, damn him," I thought,
"If he can't write back!"
And at the other end?
Who knows,
Perhaps he thought the same?

He went away on a ship,
Sailing home to a life of his own,
And nature took her own course
And kept us well apart.

I left home shortly after,
In search of a life of my own;
Ten years' time took me everywhere
That I could think to go,
Then brought me here—back home again—
Where, like some better poet said, I finally had to go.

So here I am in port again near the channel to the sea,
And I sometimes see a ship sail past the towers
And the tanks, and I wonder what it's like to see
The last, the very last, of all this Texas crude.


5th draft: 02/14/07
©1980 Ronald C. Southern

Monday, February 12, 2007

For David, Who Died By Drowning

(Dead 30 Years Now)
Who goes down for the first time
Goes down with you in mind;
Each is responsible for each,
The links between us
Destroy, create, and teach.

Who goes down in water
Comes back,
Comes back on mourning's tide;
What ties the dream to earth
Is life and death and joy and birth.

Who goes down for the third time
Comes back as spark, as flame.
Now he who comes to mind
Needs no more a name; his name
(Be given or taken), his name is vain.

We come to term as flesh,
We come to term and wait;
Not one, not some, but all: all die.
And we who have not fallen
Can but remember, weep, remember...


4th draft: 05/07/05
©1977 Ronald C. Southern

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Like Antigone

Like Antigone, I have been buried here alive,
perhaps for the same kind of dismal daunting reasons
(those bounden days-of-evil blinding reasons),
except of course I found I had
no brother to bury or to kill
or to glorify or be killed by,

but wrestled with myself alone as if I were perchance
my own Polynices or Eteocles1
in some sordid fratricidal jest
or jeering ingrown deadly-soft incest.
Such dreamt excess is not quite death, I know,
except that the extremes imposed require
so much of me that nothing else gets done.

I've done my absurd best so far, that's certain,
in leering violation of my itching awkward self,
veering wildly like some wayward waylaid ship
encircling while at anchor who-the-hell-knows-what,
but surely nothing more in sum than clumsy circles,
a scratch at night performed by four bored fingers and a thumb.

I have been buried long and deep,
gone numb as if asleep inside this winding fate,
like Daddy's Girl interred in earth and pride and hate,
and have not seen the light of day this clear and fine
in waking dreams or years of nights—see how it plays and shines!
How dare I feel it might unbind these rigid lines of destiny, and yet
How dare I not? I can but look and see it Gone, and yet I dream
I could find my way above and seize wild-hearted chance again!


10th draft: 11/18/07
©2000 Ronald C. Southern

[Notes: Polynices and Eteocles, sons of Oedipus, killed each other in battle. Eteocles had broken their agreement about governing Thebes alternately. Their sister Antigone defied her uncle Creon and performed the funeral rites for Polynices. Creon then buried her alive in the family tomb, where she hung herself.]

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Woman Leaned Over My Corpse

A woman leaned over my corpse
While it was blinking back the tears
And she pointed her knife at that disease
And strutted her stuff without making a move
And blood went everywhere.

She sang an artful lied and sorted out with ease
Every shortcoming and every sordid part of me
While time and the light of day ran wild through my muted veins
And the girl in me was piqued and those seductive hips began to move
And everything began to leak...


4th draft: 11/19/03
©2003 Ronald C. Southern

Monday, February 05, 2007

Nurse Corday

At the costume ball
A well-constructed Frenchman dressed for his bath
Was feeling fey and very down at heart.
When he saw a lady come in with a confident air and a nice round pair,
He felt himself stirring the water and sank toward the drain with a sigh.

When he asked for her name and she replied
That she answered to "Nurse Corday",
He knew that she'd come to alleviate his pain
And said he might do a double back flip in the nude
Or kiss her, using plenty of tongue.

"You'd better not do either!" Charlotte said,
"'Cause I'll cut off whatever you got!"
He'd been pressing himself crudely against her
As any wet Frenchman might do when a lady's almost in his bath, but now
He backpedaled fast and covered himself and thought about the guillotine.

He assured her that he liked her very much,
And that he didn't want to be rude,
But he'd always thought she was gay.
Then she stabbed him through the armpit with a fork
And held him there like a brisket while she used a knife on his heart.


4th draft: 03/18/04
©Ronald C. Southern

Sunday, February 04, 2007

In The Dark

Now you've traveled along alone so far,
no heartfelt human voice to hear except your own
or else some dim recall caught briefly on the march
where some spoke soft and some with starch,
forestalling for a time this dogged trouble with your heart.

The cops, the doctors, must have known or sensed
some awful bloody offness in the memories you've made
of voices that cry behind you in past tense
or whisper faintly from inside—
how must they have despised all that your speech must hide!

You speak to no one in the end,
hearing women's voices weakly in your head
that used to spark the hardness even of your self-brazed heart.
You've traveled alone a long time now and far,
no semblance of a voice beside you in the dark,
unless you count the chaos, and the chaos seldom counts.

Count the stars instead, so far away, apart,
and what a long way now would it not go
toward being home at last
if only someone in the dark had said—but what? Said what?
Time is so far along and all except your art is at heart's end
at last, where all that human voices ever said is soon forgot.


8th draft: 09/27/04
©2001 Ronald C. Southern

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Dear Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Was Emily an ugly girl or did she have bad skin?
Was she flat instead of curved? Was she far too slim?
Were there too many splendid belles come out
Those cold New England antebellum years
And she remained—because a little plain?
It makes me sick that tough-sweet spirit had to grope among
Such stiff-necked pious dullards for fifty-six notched years.

Did she fail to learn the dance? Did she make the boys feel dim?
Did she love—just once—too much, then not again—
Or did she always love exactly what she loved—
But in her dreams and books?
Why couldn't she be happy? Why couldn't she be wed?
Why does her photo draw me in as if I think that
Somewhere she's alive and I should hurry up and write
And tell her—I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I wasn't there for you!

Dear Emily, my dear—maybe I'm just sleepy this Monday 2 A.M.
Maybe I've gone crazy that I would weep for you.
You've been dead—though you live here still—
More than a hundred years
And I've only been about half-here for this tired fifty-two.
I'm near the age now when you died and I must say I've felt
That treadmill in my brain, that maelstrom in my dreams,
And wonder which did you—
Did you fail to cling or did you just let go?


8th draft: 02/21/03
©2000 Ronald C. Southern

Another photo purported to be Emily.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Old Woman's Estate

One shady afternoon not long after she'd passed,
The caretaker tidied up the careless things
That laid about the dusty house.
He felt bereft and curiously breathless, embalmed almost,
In the dry deathless residue that curious spinster sculptress left.

Nothing she'd left behind was his, or could be,
Except his vagrant thoughts,
As he recalled beneath her favorite white oak tree
How like a leaf she'd shake beneath the covers on stormy nights.

Behind the house, he stepped into
The artist's still over-crowded studio—
Inactive now, but still the source of all the dust—and thought,
"Love has a thousand foolish faces in the aftermath of life.
Her life is gone now, yet only life is left.

Of her, there is only her young/old gaze staring out
(From years of photographs, I mean)
Above that sweet and poisoned mouth
That would so seldom laugh—
The stern and somber specter of my soft and secret wife."

current draft: 02/02/07
©2003 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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