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

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

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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