Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Memories of Light" - Channeling T.S. Eliot

I've always been prone to depression. Most of the time, it's not bad, though sometimes it gets really bad. I mean really know, life sucks...might as well end it all bad.

I went through a long stretch like that back in the late '80's - early '90's.  That depression, along with my long time love of T.S. Eliot, led to this very long poem.  It was meant to evoke a feeling like Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".  I leave it up to you to decide if I succeeded or not.

"Memories Of Light"
(With heartfelt apologies to T.S. Eliot)

…So come with me then, dear one,
Come with me, and we'll walk through
The darkened side streets, the cold, dark, black alleys.
And we'll see what we can see:
The faceless basket people walking in circles,
Muttering to no one;
The drunks curled up on corners
Arguing with lamp posts.
I can understand them all, understand them all.
Don't ask me how it is.
Just come with me. Let us go.
The night moves on.

Above, the cloud-filled sky breaks, revealing the Moon,
Like a massive eye, watching as the fog rolls in from the sea,
Hiding everything behind shades of gray.
And like something from a horror show,
The fog pokes its head into the hidden corners,
Sliding beneath the curtained windows, lit from behind.
Stalking like a masked killer, searching for a victim.
Let us follow it and see if we can find
The homeless people and the places only they know.

I don't think they would have us,
Even if we found them.

In the darkness of the night
You turn your face toward me.
Your face, with your eyes too brown to be real,
The seemingly permanent smile.
You ask me who I am, who am I behind my face.
There is nothing special about me.
I am not a prince, not born to lead.
I simply follow, always behind.
Never up with the rest, somewhere in the back.
No officer, just another enlisted man.
I am a poet in secret.
I scratch my words onto paper
Then hide them away before they can be found.
I create people when there are none around.
I am just a man,
More screwed over than screwed up.
Just a man trapped on The Island,
More by unthinking actions
Than uncaring Fate.
Fit to serve as a court jester
To bring about a laugh, but not to join in on it.
I won't rule, can't rule.
To be ruled is my place.

I don't think anyone would have me as a ruler,
Even if I had the desire.

Ah, love, will it all be worth it, all worthwhile?
After the days of books and papers, of tests and lectures,
After the nights spent together, brown hair falling over a bare shoulder;
After the quiet moans and sighs?
Will it be worth it,
After my brain is reduced to liquid, and my body a crumpled mass on the floor?
When I'm gone, will they cut me apart
And find the words "I love you" scrawled upon my heart?

But we still have time, we still have time.
Time for the two of us to learn what we don't know.
Time for you to learn of me,
And time for me to learn of you.
Time enough for discoveries and tragedies,
Hopes and prayers, daydreams and fantasies.

Shall I measure out my life in cups of steaming coffee?
Shall I dilute it with cream? Sweeten it with sugar?
Shall I be like a butterfly, pinned beneath glass for display?
How do I begin to look back at my days? How can I laugh at them?

Memories are the last defense against Time.
And even they give in eventually.

If we should part, would we remember all we have learned?
The happiness, the laughter, the moans and sighs.
Will you remember what you learned of me?
My memories of you will remain;
At my fingertips, the feel of your skin, your hair;
In my mind, your eyes, your body, your voice.
You tell me you will never leave me
(As your eyes drift down the street),
And that you'll always want me
(As boredom creeps into your voice.)

And what should I do?
You tell me I should change my life.
So what should I do?
Climb into my time machine,
Travel back and live my years over again?
There is nothing I could change, even if I could.
(Though there are some sins I do regret.)
What should I do? What would you have me do?

You shake your head in the darkness,
Pull closer to me and say,
"That isn't what I was talking about."

Maybe I was better off before,
Just me and the solitude.
Maybe if I had taken a break,
Tasted life, not rushed on with school,
Things might have been different.

What happened to the people I knew in high school?
Around me each day, they filled my life.
Most of them laughed at me,
Tried their best to put me down.
Now, after the years have passed, I'm still here.
Most of them can't be found.
Did they settle down, become civilized?
Or were they erased by modern chemistry?
I don't think I want to know,
One way or the other.

I should have tried harder,
Instead of not trying at all.

"Are you all right?"

I'm fine, dear one. Quite happy with myself the way I am.
Even though I sometimes think I should have been
A sea creature, scuttling across the bottom of the ocean.

Should I try to make the universe aware of me,
Call attention to myself?
Then have the universe shrug in indifference,
Tell me it doesn't care.
Should I dare disturb the universe?
How should I begin?
How should I presume?

I sometimes wonder if the universe
Is aware of us at all.

"What are your dreams?
What lingering wishes do you have?"

I want to walk along the sands
Of shores found on planets far away.
I want to talk with someone
Born under a different star.
I want to talk with someone like me,
But quite unlike me.
I want to feel the tender touch of a lover more than once.
I want to hear someone say
"I will be with you through all, after all is said and done."

I think I was born three hundred years too soon.
Then I could boldly go into the unknown,
Where no one has ever been before.

Memories are the last defense against Time.
And even they give in eventually.

In order to have a past, you have to be alive.

In AD1983, I tried to get away
From the world I knew best.
I brought along what was good
And ignored what was left.
But in AD1985, my journey dead-ended;
I stumbled and fell.
Now I've bounced back.
But have I instead
Bounced over the edge and into an abyss?

I'm not the man I was then.
I steadied my hands, returned to what I once knew.
And still the solitude remains,
Hanging over me, waiting for me to get lost in it.

Would you have me change myself,
Just to eliminate the solitude?
Would it be worth it, after all is said and done,
To make myself over into a brand new person,
To change all that I am?
Would it be worth it,
When I walk down the street in my new wardrobe,
(They will say, "How overweight he is,")
With my hair combed fashionably neat,
As I listen to the fashionable music,
And go to the fashionable bars.

Would you have me become what I despise?
Just like everyone else,
No difference between me and everyone else,
No individuality.

You pull closer to me, rest your head on my shoulder
And say, "That is not what I was talking about.
That isn't what I meant, at all."

I think we have lingered too long
On what lies within me.

We have lingered too long here on the street,
Surrounded by the fog (which reminds me of an angry god),
And watched by the full moon (an eye afflicted by cataracts).

I think, dear one, it's time we moved on.

Time has passed us by.

And as the sun travels across the sky
We still wish and dream, hope and pray.

Until the sun sets again, and we fade away.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

No comments:

Post a Comment