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

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)

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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