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.)

Treading Softly

IMG_2977

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

-W.B. Yeats

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

 

Seasons (Waiting on You)

I’m almost ashamed to admit that it was my 70-year-old father who told me about this band.  Usually when he tells me about a band, it’s someone he heard on NPR, and let’s face it– NPR is not (nor should it ever be) the arbiter of good taste in music, especially new music.  Anyway, my father saw these guys on Letterman and told me to check ’em out.  So I did, and this single (from their appropriately titled album “Singles”) quickly became my new favorite song.  The music and lyrics are hauntingly beautiful, and the video is just as captivating as the music (maybe more so for me, as the scenery is reminiscent of the rural moments of my childhood).  When I watch the video, I am just as homesick for those lost years of my youth as I am envious of the love shared between the country couple featured.

After watching the official music video below, feel free to check out the live Letterman performance here, but be warned that the lead singer’s growling Marlon Brando-esque performance is pretty intense and might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Seasons change,
and I tried hard just to soften you.
Seasons change,
but I’ve grown tired of trying to change for you.

‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you…
I’ve been waiting on you.
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you…
I’ve been waiting on you.

As it breaks, the summer will wake,
but the winter will wash what is left of the taste.
As it breaks, the summer will warm,
but the winter will crave what is gone…
will crave what has all… gone away.

People change, you know,
but some people never do.

You know when people change,
they gain a piece, but they lose one, too.

‘Cause I’ve been hanging on you–
I’ve been waiting on you.
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you–
I’ve been hanging on you.

As it breaks, the summer will wake,
but the winter will wash what is left of the taste.
As it breaks, the summer will warm,
but the winter will crave what is gone…
will crave what is gone…
will crave what has all… gone away… 

‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you.

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

Sing Me Back Home (R.I.P., Hag)

[NOTE:  I set out to write this post yesterday, but I was so damned sad that I couldn’t do it, so I decided to postpone it until tomorrow.  Well, tomorrow is here, and I’m still so goddamned depressed that I don’t want to write it, but if I don’t write it now, I never will, so here goes– I’m gonna’ keep it short and sweet.]

Merle-Haggard

One of the all-time greats, Merle Haggard, died on his 79th birthday yesterday.  The Hag had always been a musical hero of mine (second only to Johnny Cash) and truth be told, there are very few singer/songwriters (country or otherwise) who could hold a candle to him.

Speaking of birthdays, the best birthday present I ever received was for my thirtieth a few years ago.  Merle Haggard happened to be playing a show in Branson, Missouri, of all places, on the day after my birthday, and my brother bought me a ticket.  So he and I (and our respective exes) braved the bullshit of Branson in order to see our musical hero perform.  It was a great show, and I’ll never forget the experience.

Strangely enough, I’ve had a Merle Haggard CD stuck in my car stereo for the last couple of weeks.  Well, not stuck, exactly– I just haven’t felt the need to switch it out with anything else.  I reckon I’m gonna’ have to soon, because it’s a sure bet that I’m gonna’ cry every time I hear “Sing Me Back Home” from this point on.

Nobody could sing a song quite like the Hag, and nobody could write a song quite like him, either.  There are roughly seven-and-a-half billion people on this earth, and not one of them will ever be able to emulate both the pathos in his lyrics and the sincerity in his timbre.  The world lost one of the best its ever seen, and so I’d like to share this live performance of one of my favorite songs, performed roughly the same time I got to see him in concert:

 

The warden led a prisoner down the hallway to his doom,
and I stood up to say good-bye like all the rest.
And I heard him tell the warden just before he reached my cell,
“Let my guitar-playing friend do my request.
Let him sing me back home with a song I used to hear–
make my old memories come alive…
take me away and turn back the years…
sing me back home before I die.”
I recall last Sunday morning a choir from off the streets
came to sing a few old gospel songs.
And I heard him tell the singers,
“There’s a song my mama sang…

could I hear it once before we move along?
Sing me back home, with a song I used to hear,
make my old memories come alive…
take me away and turn back the years…
sing me back home before I die…
sing me back home before I die.”