Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Well, here's that poem I said was on the way. It's a sestina. You can see the form--repetition of the words at the end of each line of the first stanza in the following stanzas, only in varying order. There you go. Poetry lesson from Julie, which I know everyone wanted. The poem is sort of indirectly related to the J.C. music scene, but more about myself--the only topic I can speak on with any authority. I'm working on another one though, about the music more specifically. Ciao. Hope it's enjoyed.

Traveling: A Sestina

Despite the distance, I liked driving from Chicago to Johnson City,
moving across the slick highway like a dry, lone soldier
hoarding images of my own small town past in a suitcase,
insanely composed, ready to hand them over to the bravest human
properly attired; a man who carried his own pain like a torch
shouting, “Hey, fucking look at this!” -- yet hiding.

I remember standing on a stool inside a “music venue”, hiding
behind the noise of something too hip, carrying an entire city
in my veins. You were the only soul who saw my twisted torch;
it was really a stupid billboard; a drama given for some soldier
who had not yet truly suffered. I wasn’t even yet a human
who could name her pain. I was only carrying a suitcase

of misplaced desire. Still, inside that weird vision, that suitcase
of twisted knowledge, I guessed, and I touched you, hiding
out loud. Within my imagination, you see, the word *human*
wasn’t skin and bone singing but more the language of a soldier
whose mind is separated from the huge, billowing torch
that whispers a specific, visceral song. I inhaled a glowing city

and exhaled “nothing”. “See?,” I said. And - “In the glowing city
I can carry my dreams across the highway.” - or - “a suitcase
of understanding that remains private.” - or - “a huge torch
I can fold into precise, measured portions and carefully hide
in a high place.” You laughed. “I didn’t realize that a human
could think of that,” you said, and sat like a true soldier.

Now, when I consider certain melodies, I see outlines of soldiers
propped on their elbows, legs crossed. They see the pure city
of desire, and exhale an empty canvas. Yet they say “Human
emotion is measurable.” Hah. The vast importance of a suitcase
of cheap memories doesn’t go unnoticed. The need to hide
persists. I can hear them. “Poor thing. she still carries a torch

that smells like yesterday.” But they do not hear the soldier
in my voice - the thing that molds then fills an enormous suitcase
of memory. No matter. Like me, they too still carry a torch.


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