Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From the Archives

We might be lurching toward paperlessness, but I came of age in a world full of paper. My house is full of paper: notes from when I was teaching, journals I've kept since the age of 12, notes from papers I wrote in grad school plus the papers themselves, poems I've written since the age of 13. It's a lot of paper. I spent some time last weekend trying to weed out some of it, but it's hard to let go. It feels akin to tossing out my past, and I'm not ready to toss out my past.

Then, of course, rather than weeding I started reading. The weirdness of experiencing a journal kept by my 14 year-old self is fodder for a different post, but I will say that if you ever want a weird experience, spend some time with yourself as a young teenager. In looking through a folder, I found this poem. I was 21 when I wrote it. I'd pretty much forgotten about it, but I think I still like it. At least, I still like it today. Meet the 21 year-old me:

Night Falls at Sam’s Place

neon light
drops from the bar
like petals tonight,
the radio only plays
songs we can sing to,
and the world
has become a home

and at the bar
the bikers
are taking off their beards

and the pool players
are humming a tune
they call Friday night
that everyone is singing

and even if it rains
the puddles will sit there,
wanting to shine

the bikers’ faces will gleam
like polished chrome
and they’ll waltz
spinning around the bar,
buying each other rounds

and the players will tell you,
Each of these balls
is a man
who didn’t kill me,
and they’ll pocket them,
laughing, one by one

while the city packs away
its parking meters
and a janitor swings his broom
like a date at Roseland,
knowing it isn’t his life
he’s been collecting

and when an old woman
enters the bar
she’ll throw aside her hat
and bags and say,
Call me work
with no payday,
footless dancer,
cup without wine

and the janitor
will let her sleep
in his building

and under our clothes
our bodies will glisten
as we move like dancers,
all of us,
as we become a shot glass
that never empties,
a street with no noise

and children won’t cry
in upstairs rooms
and the food
on every menu
will come without asking

and when the bar closes
we’ll enter the night together
and it will be soft
as a breast,
and we’ll go down on it
without fear,
this world
falling from our mouths
like kisses

1 comment:

TW said...

I wish I had known the 21 year old you; but I'm glad I met you a few years later despite the angst of our mutual...friend. Wonderful insight into the blossoming you.