I Whisper to the Ground

Son on shoulders,
I walk
Through the carnival crowd
I lift him
Wishing he could lift me
We could ascend under Mary’s umbrella
When the winds shift from the East to West
Together we’d jump into a chalk dream
Defended from venom
Defended from the hurt
Defended from the drugs
Needed to sort through this mess.
Red pills, blue pills, choices made
Let’s purple them together,
A much happier color for new shoes
I walk in
Son on shoulders.

I whisper to the ground:

I, too, am afraid of everyone.
I, too, feel them swallowing my soul.

Image: “Broad Shoulders” Iby Kim Roberti

Juvenilia: The Child (1986: Age 15)

June 19, 1986

Bullets pierce and echo the air
Villagers abandon their flaming homes
The king cannot see, only the Lord sees
Reasons do not matter as bloodshed begins

On a hilltop the one flag quivers in the wind
Tears pour into the Child’s innocent eyes
His brother has died in the flames of war-
Horror from what was once so grand

Unnoticed, underfoot our freedom drifts
We, sightless, block our ears from the Child’s wail
His father has died in the ocean of war
Only to be as us- free

The fire rages across the countryside
The Child is shot in his tears
The memory of his brother burns
The memory of his father drowns

One man fills his jars with tears
His son fills dreams with fears
Both are dead, burned by lead
Nothing left, there is no son

Nothing left, there is no village
At dawn the flames consumed the last morsel
On a hillside the one flag quivers
The stars shine, the bullets pierce the air

We bury the Child under the flag
His father would have won the flag
They bled too long for
A reason too wrong

Bullets pierce and echo the air
The village burnt to the ground
Does any flesh mourn the Child?
Oh Lord…

Reasons do not matter when innocence sheds blood.

Image: Venitienne A Sa Toilette (Venetian Lady at Her Toilette) by Jacques Louis David

Never Be Weak, Son

Darkness coats the room,
A slippery cloak donned by hiding.

Men look for a lost piece so hard
They must destroy everything,

Build around them, an armor:
Never be weak, son, never.

The tissue that constructs us,
Rolling like clouds out of ether

Blown by God into shapes that fit
Alongside everything else

Is weak, so weak it needs bones:
Never be weak, son, never.

Image: Light In The Darkness by Jarmo Korhonen aka Jarko
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/light-in-the-darkness-jarmo-korhonen-aka-jarko.html

So Close to Losing You

Today, thought I just about made it
When the sand felt so soft under foot.
Surf as gentle as she has ever been
Kind, she tasted my toes, an offering.
The Bay as still as she has ever been
Called my heart ready, an offering.

So I swam, free style, each stroke
Reaching as far as it could, elbows high,
Until there was nothing left to reach for.
Stories tell of the peace felt the moment
Water rushes inside remaining voids
Releasing oxygen others need more.

Today, just about made it across the bay
When the bottom, littered with rocks
Called me its offering, gentle and kind.
So I swam until there was nothing left
Water rushed in like a baby yet born,
I closed my eyes, close enough to losing.

“Son,
Are you awake?
I’m right here.
Hey,
Are you awake?
I’ll watch you.

Today, swim with me,
Son, so close…
Your
Eyes:
I am not losing you
Not today.“

My voice:

This week’s song of the week finishes The National back-catalog with a response to the stunning melancholy of “About Today” formally released on the EP Cherry Tree, made more powerful in its live version on the Virginia EP. A conventional reading of the lyrics tell of a man next to his wife realizing he is losing her. An unconventional reading of the lyrics is more self-reflective, a man looking at himself so close to losing everything. Today, the 25th of May, both readings speak to me. My response, however, ends with the hopeful, yet pained voice of a Father, perhaps The Father, who watches over his Son, not yet ready to lose him. This cathartic poem has been brewing for some time, now, and at last finds its voice.

The Song:

Original version, a powerful part of the film The Warrior:

This live version, however, rips my heart out every time:

The Lyrics:

About Today
Songwriters: Aaron Dessner / Matthew Berninger

Today
You were far away
And I
Didn’t ask you why
What could I say
I was far away
You just walked away
And I just watched you
What could I say

How close am I
To losing you

Tonight
You just close your eyes
And I just watch you
Slip away

How close am I
To losing you

Hey, are you awake
Yeah I’m right here
Well can I ask you
About today

How close am I
To losing you

How close am I
To losing

About Today lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC

220px-cherry_tree_28ep29 220px-the_virginia_ep_cover

Father, Son, Stars, Loss (for Bobby)

I start to count them and stop
Not because there are too many
But because I cannot hold them
Accountable; the code sparkled
From their eternal glow calls
Me to be accountable to my life:
Precious. Let us look, son,
Out the window in quiet
Prayer for the loss, inexplicable,
That weighs down our hearts
Until sleep pardons us this day.
Tomorrow we can wake and run.

He Rebuilds a Lost Sister (for Jack)

Lost in the supermarket
My special Lego creation
Lost somewhere between
Gummies and hot dogs.

Mommy looked all over
But can’t find it
It’s okay, I’ll build another.
I know I can build another one.

Just two shoulders and arm pieces
A chest shield, two legs and feet
One hand will wield the best sword
In the bin.

This new creation will be cooler –

It will be the coolest.

Almost done!
This,
My best
Creation
Yet…

But I cannot
Find the right mask.

It must have the right mask.
I cannot find the mask.
Daddy help me find a mask.

Daddy, I just want my creation to sit up.
Daddy, I just want my creation to take its first step.
Daddy, I just want my creation to say its first word.
Daddy, I just want my creation to live.

Daddy, please help me
Find the right mask.

Please help me, Daddy,
I need my mask.

2009/2017