Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What I Want to Sound Like

And what I want to sound like now is an old house, abandoned but not forgotten,  completely, haunted, of course, but glad for the company not just of bats, an owl,  raccoons,  and smaller furry animals, and spiders, some ants  and other insignificant things of which I am no more aware than a body its cells until the rot and multiplication takes control, an instrument for the wind and the sun and the night and the air to play on, with decrepit porch and worn staircase, a conduit for memories, some of things that may never have happened, a refuge for vagrant thoughts, things, and people, a little off-kilter, maybe somewhat out of tune, a guitar with broken strings, depending on how you hear or what you listen to,  a place so old it’s forgotten  more of the country than most will ever know, wishing for coyotes, like a prophet concerned less  with the future than with what has been lost on the way to where we are, and which makes what is to come inevitable, as the judgment,  playing an old song constructed of wood  and the damp, susceptible to trains and never drums, cries in the night, tales of hardhearted fathers, unnatural mothers, falsehearted judges, perfidious captains, meretricious ladies, avaricious lords of industry, lonesome Indians, sweet suicides, the gentle mad, spirits on the ward,  grieving citizens, the sorrowful and all the mad, poor wayfaring strangers on the American land seduced by beautiful words and their own faith and hope, bigger than  ours, rummies and dreamers in a bar, ruined nobles forever without character, in their ancestry and their progeny,  those who lived by their own code and confronted so many things bigger than themselves, the darkness on the land, the sea and the times, grand armies and petty schemes, ruling delusions, the urge to belonging, the sorrow that surpasseth understanding, horses in the snow, the poverty of sorrow, the sorrow of poverty, children hungry and mothers powerless, love betrayed and abandoned but never forgotten, rue and thyme,  poor William and Barbara Allen, death bell’s knelling, the red rose and the briar,  a blowing gate, gentle, accidental killers, the king’s soldiers,  yarrow beneath the gallows, Pierce Arrows out in the clearing where the WalMart used to be, birds in the chimney and shoes on the table, angels in the clearing, vagrant dogs, Leigh Ann’s laughter, her hope and health, and Anne’s eyes, gentle young men coughing in the rain, the rasp of Dad’s face against mine when he had not shaved, Brian’s hand on my shoulder (and he thinks me strong), dogs barking in the night,  the snowfalling all over the living and the dead, Aunt Mary’s unfathomed kindness and simple joy, unrequited love, a world of desire, loneliness in lamplit rooms, how hard we laughed, how hard we cried, every time someone died, hope always when an infant cried, all the gentle acts and love that left us so sad when the house finally emptied, taken and more abandoned by a bank,  every fatal foolish futile gesture with which you said I and I am here but this world as it is is not my home yet where else will we know such joy and beauty, so many days we have been out to roam, sure it must be we can find our way home,  our lies are so much more beautiful than theirs, all the lost homelands and houses, tiny grandmothers with piping laughter and heaving shoulders dispensing ginger ale, living so large, and so long ago, forever, is this not all we will know of eternity and could you not live it, refugee cats, flowers so pretty they don’t need names, girls the same, a child’s cosmology, fluoxetine if that’s what it takes and no shame because, one is always more than many, than  money, contempt for the counters and changers, tramps for whom it prayed, a mandolin, a violin, an upright bass,  an accordion maybe, a harmonica,  two guitars, all these imperfect things, dust and something that flows, Johnny Cash, a river, potter’s field and the wind blowing endlessly,  fear of God,  rain seeping in, falling leaves skittering across the pavement, dust on a hardwood floor, always in the middle of the night waiting for some tomorrow, a ghost singing in a haunted house that’s burning down,  Grandpa’s  pocket watch and Breton dreams, matchbox wishes and freight train rolling, the abandonment of dissolution and generosity, wildflowers, death before insurance, a radio that only plays in the middle of the night songs imagined and imperfectly remembered, the democracy and justice of the beggars’ graveyard because this land, this land, ain’t no one’s land, this land, this land,  is a burying ground, all things named, haunted singing in a ghostly house that’s burning down, without fear or trepidation, songs heroic enough to stop time . . . a cracked Irish American country blues of my own imagining, three chords are enough for the truth but three minutes are not,  for history . . . “all the lost causes of the human soul,” John Fahey, navigating by the stars . . . the real world but not this world, this world but not the real world . . . How can any melody be new, there’s but so many notes, and the world has had so much time to play them,  all real songs are old, born in the same place and time . . ..If it still doesn’t sound right, drink more than a fair amount of Rebel Yell, take a couple of Vicodins, stop working for a living, and read a real newspaper at 3:10 a.m. . . . shut the tv off . . . you’ll be allright

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