December 28, 2005

Closing Time

She was cruising down the Big Sur coast,
Looking for a little romance.
I was walking the edge of Highway One,
Hoping for a second chance.

She pulled that Ford to the side of the road.
I opened the door, got in.
Said, "My name's Adam, baby. What's yours?"
She said, "They call me Original Sin."

She didn't look like no high-school sweetheart.
She was no obvious beauty queen.
But she had something every man knows,
That fire that's felt not seen.

We coasted down that seaside highway
Until the evening fog rolled in,
Then checked ourselves into the Pines Motel,
Where I first knew Original Sin.

When I awoke the next morning

The room held nothing but me and a note.
"Nice knowing you, Adam, but I gotta roll.
See you around sometime," she wrote.

I wandered on down the side of the road,
Feeling just strange and tired.
Stuck out a thumb and a rig pulled over,
Said, "You want a job moving, you're hired."

We drifted along the curves below Sur
For most of that foggy morning,
Crawled over a hill and into a bunch
Of cops and cars with no warning.

Below the carved cliffs, out on the rocks
Was the smoldering wreck of a Ford.
Gulls swarmed above it, calling and calling,
Looking for a little reward.

"Another damn fool," said the trucker.
"Took the curve just a little too quick.
I seen it before and I'll see it again.
It's a killer of a road when its slick."

He edged round the cops and the gawkers,
Hit the gas, downshifted the gears.
"Pull over," I said, " and let me get out.
Far as I go is right here."

I walked back to the Sur and got me a job.
Worked hard, got some money laid in,
And opened this bar by the side of the road,
And I named it Original Sin.

And sometimes halfway to morning,
When the last of the drunks have rolled home,
I find myself down by the Pines Motel,
And I know that I'm never alone,
Know now that I'm never alone.

And that's my sad old story, pal.
Just one of a million I hear.
But this tale is mine to know and to tell.
Tell me yours and I'll buy you a beer.
Tell me yours and its worth
One cold beer.

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Posted by Vanderleun at December 28, 2005 12:41 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I think it wasn't so bad even there were som fragmented lines. Well done anyway and the idea, I liked it.

Posted by: harry tobin at December 28, 2005 1:17 PM

thanks. It actually arises as a song lyric, so the fragmentation can be compensated for by intonation. Luckily for you, I won't be singing it here.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at December 28, 2005 3:30 PM

This is really cliche. The language is prosaic, and the story expresses numb nihilistism without rising to the level of angst. Just kind of emotionless depressing schlock.

Posted by: Chuck Schulz at December 28, 2005 7:12 PM

This is really cliche. The language is prosaic, and the story expresses numb nihilism without rising to the level of angst. Just kind of emotionless depressing schlock.

Posted by: Chuck Schulz at December 28, 2005 8:40 PM

AskMom points out that if the poem really did express "numb nihilism", then the appropriate and artistically defensible tone would be prosaic, so there would be no criticism to be made in that case.

On the other hand, if the poem simply posits that man is not really alone, and that even our most negligible tale is worth a beer (and surely we all agree that a cold beer is a very good thing) then calling it "emotionless depressing schlock" is a bit harsh.

Acceptance of life's plain realities is not lack of emotion, and neither is angst a requisite for good poetry. VdL isn't insulting our intelligence here. But slapping back at imaginary slights is, in fact, so ...... cliche.

Posted by: AskMom at December 29, 2005 12:20 AM

Castle Indolence

for Tom Disch
"No more poems about poetry."

Once I worked in projective verse,
But alas my work was for the worse.
Today I add scintilla of technique
Which, sprinkled in, reveals the scenes I seek.

Thoughts are easily clad in rime, it's true,
But some thoughts live when hidden from our view.
To offer rules that eviscerate tradition
Is freedom for a day, but for a life -- perdition.

In workshops coast to coast, our poets sweat,
Renouncing honest doggerel and making bets
On who will win the laurels and be fully funded.
(At least ten grand a year, perhaps a hundred.)

To achieve this purloined prize, they teach the kids
To scrawl barbaric yawps on everything they did,
And didn't do, to Barbie or to Ken
The Night Before in rooms of manly men.

Such grades delivered are rightly pass or fail
Since all agree that any poem is off the scale
Of justice or of judgment ( "Fuck Tom Disch!"),
And is always just as good as is the poet's wish.

The other lessons taught in workshop hell
Are: "Rhyme is always bad and feelings swell!
Express yourself, young and toothsome student!
(But know that bending over is still prudent.)

"You see, in this strange game, we've got a rule
That states the poet comes before the school.
So please ignore Eliot and Stevens, even Dante,
To let feelings, a la Streisand, up the ante.
"By composing, from such sources, endless plaints,
You are allowed to shitcan meter's steel restraints,
And craft within our workshops shapeless blobs
That will sustain your feelings and our jobs."

What remedy remains for profs so sodden
With modest grants and laurels cheaply gotten?
There's no pretending that such men are poets pure,
For "once a bear is hooked on garbage there's no cure."

Our only hope is to accurately describe them
As mired in their muck. So woe betide them,
Should they hope to gain a lasting recognition,
Their very work will work for their derision.

The poem's not a path to some fat pension,
Nor like some hired hand releasing inner tension.
It requires nothing less than all the soul and mind,
And is, like love and Homer, always blind.

It is not made in workshops, whole or part,
But in the "rag and boneshop of the heart."
And those that cannot blindly see this sense
Must chained forever be in Castle Indolence.

All poetry is dreaming written clear
To the inner eye that wakes the sleeping ear.
You must listen to iced silence, seeing only night,
If you would give your readers second sight.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at December 29, 2005 3:48 AM
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