Regret (September 16th)

Regret

One asked of regret,
  And I made a reply:
To have held the bird,
  And let it fly;
To have seen the star
  For a moment nigh,
And lost it
  Through a slothful eye;
To have plucked the flower
  And cast it by;
To have one only hope—
  To die.

–Richard Le Gallienne

(apologies to Richard Le Gallienne and Mrs. D.G.S.)

Sunshowers (September 16th)

sunny-rain
the rain is full of ghosts tonight

Had the day off from work, and I’m wondering now if it might’ve been a better idea to go in, just to keep my mind occupied from nine to five, if anything. Instead, I’ve spent this mostly grey day mired in melancholy, haunted by ghosts and watching the strange weather through my window as it shifted back and forth between ominous skies and sunshine. Showers came in fits and starts all day, often even when the sun shone.

There’s an old wives’ tale that claims if it’s raining while the sun is shining, it means the Devil is beating his wife. I made that comment off-hand once at work during a sunshower, and most of my officemates were appalled. Only the oldest person in the room, one of our retired volunteers, had ever heard that expression before– to everyone else, it was arcane. Standing at my kitchen window today, wistful and watching the sun shine through the trees while the rain fell, I remembered that old wives’ tale and I couldn’t help but think how fortunate the Devil is to still have a wife, and how he should probably be treating her better.

I was originally going to post the poem “Neutral Tones” by Thomas Hardy to commemorate my old anniversary, as it’s a perfectly greyish poem for this greyish day, but ironically enough, the tone of the poem wasn’t quite right. Instead, I’m going to share a sonnet from Edna St. Vincent Millay, as it’s much more beautiful and its sentiment seems more appropriate.

rain_whiterose1

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

(apologies to Ms. Millay and to Mrs. D.G.S.)

Reason to Believe

Revisited this ol’ ditty tonight for reasons unknown to anyone (including myself) and must’ve listened to it seven or eight times before I realized that it’s way past my bed time.  Such a sad, sad song, but so sweet and sincere, too.   Arguably one of the best songs ever written, by Mr. Tim Hardin, but recorded and re-recorded by so many others.  The version I’m highlighting in this post is Johnny Cash’s rendition of the tune circa 1975.

Reason to Believe

If I listened long enough to you,
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true.
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried–
Still I look to find a reason to believe…

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
Somebody else.
Someone like you makes it easy to give,
Never thinkin’ of myself…

If I gave you time to change my mind,
I’d find a way to leave the past behind.
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried–
Still I look to find a reason to believe…

If I listened long enough to you,
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true.
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried–
Still I look to find a reason to believe…

-Tim Hardin

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Boy Crying With Ice Cream Cone

Just felt like sharing a poem.  No particular reason.

******************************

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

-Wallace Stevens

 

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Stephen Stills wrote this tune for sweet blue-eyed Judy Collins as their relationship was falling apart, and it remains one of the most tender and heartbreakingly beautiful songs ever recorded.

Had this ditty stuck in my head and just felt like sharin’.

It’s getting to the point where I’m no fun anymore
(I am sorry)
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud
(I am lonely)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
Remember what we’ve said and done and felt about each other
(Oh, babe have mercy)
Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now
(I am not dreaming)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Tearing yourself away from me now you are free
And I am crying
This does not mean I don’t love you I do that’s forever
Yes and for always
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
Something inside is telling me that I’ve got your secret
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart
And I love you
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard

Friday evening
Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose?
Tuesday morning
Please be gone I’m tired of you
What have you got to lose?
Can I tell it like it is? (Help me I’m sufferin’)
Listen to me baby
It’s my heart that’s a sufferin’ it’s a dyin’ (Help me I’m dyin’)
And that’s what I have to lose (To lose)
I’ve got an answer
I’m going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays?
What have you got to lose?

Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing a song, don’t be long
Thrill me to the marrow

Voices of the angels
Ring around the moonlight
Asking me said she so free
How can you catch the sparrow?

Lacy lilting leery
Losing love lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady

Leaden-Eyed Despairs

Mad_Men_Opening_Credits.gif

Finally started watching “Mad Men” a month or so ago.  I know, I know… better late than never, right?  I swear, if I had a nickel for every pop-culture phenomenon I missed the boat on…

*sigh*

When the show was originally on the air, I was a married man, and my wife at the time wasn’t real keen on letting me watch it.  I think her aversion to “Mad Men” had something to do with the show’s semi-romanticization of the misogynistic attitudes of men in that era, or it could have been the rampant alcohol abuse of nearly every character, or merely that the show’s protagonist was a philandering alcoholic son of a bitch.  Perhaps it was all of those things, I dunno.  Regardless, the award-winning television series saw very little airtime on our tv set because it simply didn’t make for a comfortable viewing experience for this particular married couple.

Cut to a few years later…

Clock.gif

I am no longer married.  I’m alone (“utterly alone” as Lydia Deetz would say), and it occurs to me that there’s no reason I can’t be watching “Mad Men,” so I begin binge-watching the show.  And it’s great.  The casting, the art direction, the set design, the wardrobes, the writing… it’s all really, really good.  And really, really depressing.  Depressing for me, anyway, but I know I have a tendency to read into things a bit too much sometimes.  I’ve made a bad habit over the years of reading the cards wrong and projecting my problems into places they don’t truly belong.  But sometimes I’m reading those cards correctly, and sometimes my projections aren’t entirely unfounded.  One such projection/problem is loneliness.

fortresssolitudeSuperman’s “Fortress of Solitude”

There comes a point when one recognizes the difference between solitude and loneliness.  “Solitude” is something we value.  Everyone needs a little time to themselves now and then.  Hell, even Superman had a “Fortress of Solitude”– a Kryptonian castle in the middle of the Arctic where the Man of Steel could get away from the hustle and bustle of Metropolis and its many helpless denizens.  Superman understood and appreciated how valuable solitude was, and you’ve got to figure that it was at his Fortress of Solitude where he also realized just how lonely he was.  When you’re a nigh-invulnerable alien with god-like powers, there aren’t a whole lot of folks who will really “get” you.  There was no one on Earth whom he could truly relate to, so he just had to get away to collect his thoughts from time to time.  And when he had that time to himself, I’m sure that Superman must have done an awful lot of thinking and introspection.  As the great poet John Keats wrote in “Ode to a Nightinggale”:

keats-by-joseph-severn

 

 

“where but to think is to be full of sorrow and leaden-eyed despairs.”

 

 

 

And I’m sure that Superman was chock-full of sorrow and leaden-eyed despairs.  Alone time is only worthwhile when you’re able to escape it– when you’re able to return to being loved and valued as a human being by another human being.  But Superman never had that.  Lots of folks don’t have that, honestly.  I myself have an abundance of alone time, with which I do an awful lot of introspection, and it’s during this alone time that I’ve picked up on a whole host of observances.  The one observance I keep coming back to– the one that keeps kicking me in the skull like an L.A. riot cop– is that I don’t even know what solitude feels like anymore.  What once was solitude to me is now strictly alone time.

I just finished watching a particularly poignant scene in “Mad Men” which really struck home with me, and I figure there’s no better way to cap off this day than sharing.

When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed, because we want so much more. We’re ruined, because we get these things, and wish for what we had.