Tag Archives: classic country

Regular Poem: I’m Not Gonna Write You a Love Song

18 Apr

there’s a subgenre
of country western song
that’s all about
fist cities
and
taking jobs and shoving them
and
keys into sides of pretty little souped up four wheel drives
and
goin’ home and loadin’ shot guns waiting by the door lighting cigarettes

all precipated
by ill-fated
damaged and damaging
love affairs

they’re gorgeous
and terrible
indulgent
and twangy

but where
are all the
rage jazz tunes

i want to hear
julie london
croon to me
in that sexy basement register of hers
about vindictive vandalism

what would that sound like

a walking upright bass
the sizzle of a symbol
igniting
a tremble in the treble keys of a piano
then slow purring alto fury

now you say you’re sorry
when all you’ve got left is ash
you didn’t say i’m sorry
when all my hopes you did dash

the piano follows
the spiraling the ratcheting up
the bass drum’s
like a broken heartbeat

you thought you had my number
thought you could do me wrong
that i’d sit back and take it
but my fuse is short and my memory’s long

the strings pick up
the brass wails
it’s the chorus and we know
the ex-lover’s in for it now

the fire of our desire burned out
but passion in motion stays in motion
so i wasn’t going to stay home and pout
i’ll bet you’re wishing a lot of things
as your mercedes blows smoke rings
you were my bembo and i was your borgia
but that was over the day you left me
and tonight’s the night the lights go out in georgia

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Regular Poem: Vice

28 Aug

There’s nothing
new under the sun. All
is vanity and vexation
of spirit.

I open this way both
because it’s true
(all scripture is profitable
for doctine and instruction etc.)
and because it’s the way
all my poems should open.
They’re all the same, even the one
I didn’t write
two weeks ago
and then
really
didn’t write
when I realized
Miranda Lambert had written it
for me.

Country western songs
are all the same, too.
Patty Loveless
probably wrote it for her.
Loretta Lynn probably
wrote it for Patty.
Kitty Wells probably
wrote it for Loretta.

And Solomon
wrote it for all of us.
David wrote it for him.
And the Holy Spirit breathed it
into him,
convicted him
to cry out
and accompany himself on his harp,
selah.

(To the chief musician,
most country western songs
are in a major key,
but why?
Yours,
A)

You start a fire from
the bottom.
Catch the tinder
and it lights the kindling and frame
and then the rest
burns, too. Slowly sometimes.
The sins
I’ve thrown
on the top of the pile–
vices to add to my list (that
was the starting point
of that poem I didn’t write
two weeks ago)–
are the ones I’d like
to see consumed
first.
I should’ve shoved them
in the bottom.
But that’s so dense already.
How’s any air supposed to get in?

How fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous
(that’s how the Amplified Bible often further explains the word blessed)
it is then
that the Holy Spirit
breathes
so much.

Regular Poem: I Wear Dusty Rose, Myself

8 Apr

It’s funny at first–
the woman knows it’s not her lipstick
on her straying lover’s collar
because her lipstick
is baby pink
whereas the evidentiary lipstick
is red.
She knows
it’s not her shade;
therefore, the lipstick has
told a tale on her beau–
and it’s also convicted
her best friend.

The lipstick’s a match.
Case closed.

She’s good at lipstick, but
not as good as
our expert witness,
Wynonna.

Connie knows it’s red,
but Wynonna knows her
unfaithful man’s lipstick is
strawberry red.

That’s very specific,
and I can respect that
attention to detail.

Now is this just a general color, though?
Or is she sure of the brand and
everything?

And I want to ask why
she can identify distinct lipsticks
from smudged samples on fabric
but doesn’t have better
taste in men,
but
she probably just has a gift for it–
lipstick comes to her,
colors speak to her.

Men may speak to her, too.
But she knows they’re lying
only when
the lipstick tells her so.

Found Poem: I don’t know if it’s the cheatin’ I like or just the melody

22 Apr

I knew you’d
love me
as long as you wanted.

I can turn it on–
be a good machine–
let you put your hands on me
in my skin-tight jeans.

I’ve got to admit
I do some looking, too:

If I meet another girl
like you, I’ll tell her
never want another girl
like you.

***

I was going to do Napowrimo’s Day 9 prompt, which incorporates five random song titles, but then I decided I wanted to use lyrics from them instead.  I heard these five songs on the radio this afternoon and created this accordingly.

Crazy–Patsy Cline
Human–Christina Perri
Teenage Dream–Katy Perry
She Just Started Likin’ Cheatin’ Songs–John Anderson
Break My Stride–Matthew Wilder

National Poetry Writing Month Retrospective

4 May

In which I reflect upon my (successful) April endeavor.

I wrote a poem every day during the month of April.  For realsies.  (Except some of them were found poems made out of my spam comments, which doesn’t feel that real, but I count it anyway.)

Of course, because of the time frame, and my sometimes rather limited abilities, some of those poems were less than stellar.  I’d like to use this post to reflect on my better achievements and some of my disappointments, as well.

Let’s start with the bad and move up from there.

Least Favorite:  my favorite thing to lose

Why I Don’t Like It:  I was trying to go for some kind of weighty metaphor yet keep the tone kind of light instead of dropping into melancholic melodrama (as is my way sometimes), but it ended up being kind of stupid and reaching.

Worst Part: The final four stanzas.

and maybe next week it’ll just end up back again

and maybe next month you can make a deposit again

and maybe next year you can start making direct deposits again

and maybe next century you can have enough credit built up to lose it again

I thought this was going to be clever, but the more I look at it, the more cloying, idiotic, and nonsensical it is.

2nd Least Favorite:  Let me call myself

Why I Don’t Like It:  I love found poems of all kinds, and I tried to write one with a literature base, but the thing about them is that they should say something different from the source material.  The parts of this that aren’t nonsense basically just summarize “William Wilson.”

Worst Part: The part where I use the word dismal twice.  If I had used it at least three times, it may have been poetic repetition.  As it is, it’s just sloppy.

The One That Didn’t Turn Out How I Had Intended:  I took Emily Dickinson

What I Had Intended:  A several-stanza poem that’s sorta silly, sorta serious (à la Dickinson) with inventive use of meter and slant rhyme (à la Dickinson) with several Dickinson references thrown in.  Each stanza would be about taking Dickinson to different places (the bar was going to be one, the library another).  The final stanza would be a Dickinsonian rumination on death/the nature of life, in which the narrator takes Dickinson to “the house where I died.”  You know, Dickinson stuff.

Why It’s Not What I Had Intended:  I started writing it pretty early on in the month, but then discarded it for a while.  I picked it up again and wrote a few stanzas and then thought about it all night at work and then came home and wrote (not exactly) what I had been thinking about.  It got to being close to midnight, and my section about the beach had grown too big to fit with the rest of what I was doing, but I decided to roll with it because I didn’t hate it, and it was too late to write another poem before the day ended.

Overall, I’m happy with the poem, but I kind of wonder what it would look like if I could’ve written it the way I’d intended it.

The Ones That Didn’t End Up Being Written

Mirror Universe Poem:  The Daily Prompt one day had to do with meeting an alternate universe version of yourself.  So I wrote half a really crappy poem about meeting my Mirror Universe me, who was a vegan exercise nut who was wearing the Mirror Kira shiny headband.  It was dumb.  Be glad I didn’t finish it.

Jane Eyre/Painting Poem:  I’ve been listening to Jane Eyre, and I was really struck by how she painted a portrait of herself and another of that other chick Rochester was pretending to like just so she could remind herself she was plain, poor, etc.  I loled so much when she puts the two portraits side by side and says:

Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr. Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two picture and compare them: say, “Mr. Rochester might probably win that noble lady’s love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent and insignificant plebeian?”

Lol!  Jane Eyre is obviously part Borg and part straight up love sick fool.  Efficient and masochistic.

So I was going to write a poem about how if I could paint/draw/whatever, I would use it only as a tool for self-instruction, like Jane Eyre.  It was going to be so maudlin and so flowery.  Be sad I didn’t finish it.

Follow Up to Just Another Song That Nonsensically Quantifies Teardrops:  I got to thinking about how the exponential model of teardrops is true only supposing one does not see one’s lost love ever again; however, when one sees one’s lost love, the tear drops show a sharp incline.  And sometimes hormones or whatever cause tear drops to increase, as well.  Therefore, some kind of waveform graph would more accurately portray a tear drop situation.  I never found the time/energy to research this and write my country-western song.  Be really sad I didn’t write this one.

2nd Favorite: The Eye Witness

Why I Like It:  I find noir fun both to write and to read, so I think this an enjoyable piece from both ends.  I also like the idea of it:  how useless a noir narrator would be as an eyewitness–always waxing gritty and poetic but never really pointing out details that could make an accurate sketch.

Best Part:  The last section, in which I crack myself up every time imagining some five-o-clock-shadowed grubby detective getting super impatient with a disenchanted dame with a long cigarette holder:

–Ma’am. Thank you, but–

I’ve got one more.

He was a man who may have wanted
to be good once,
but a life of neon lovers and gun-metal friends
had persuaded him otherwise
in the dark of some wet, murderous night.

–Are you finished?

Yes.

Favorite:  The Ice Box of My Heart

Why I Like It:  Oh hi, extended metaphor that doesn’t even seem that forced!  This could’ve turned out a lot worse than it did, and I am so pleasantly surprised by it.  I wrote it in like five minutes, and I still like it very much.

Best Part:  The simple stanza in the middle that sums up the whole thing (and was the inspiration for the entire poem):

It’s mostly leftovers,
to be honest.

***

And with that, I’ve concluded my self-indulgent analysis of my own writing.  I will probably be back to talking about Captain Janeway and/or classic country any minute now.

***

Also, to prove I’m not completely self-centered, I also wanted to share these favorite-other-people’s poems (presented in alphabetical order):

Bonsai by grapeling

Why I Like it:  It chronicles an incident in the life of a sassy WAF lieutenant!  And it uses plant imagery!  Also, sassy WWII ladies!!!!

Best Part:  Although the sassy WWII lady stuff happens at the end, the beginning really hooked me.  I know exactly what a bonsai knuckle is (my grandmother has them), and they absolutely are strong and good at cleaning and totally worthy of poetry.

Mom held up bonsai knuckles, each hand
grown gnarled, as we sat sipping red wine
in tumblers perfectly sparkled where she’d gleamed them
with those fingers. Stains have no chance
versus them, index finger angled 30 degrees
permanently crooked the better to clean.

Green-Fingers by Carol J. Forrester

Why I Like it:  I love the house plant/farming dichotomy: how house plants are somehow instinctual and farming is scientific.

Best Part:  Again, we’ve got a great opening with great line breaks.  It also resonates with me because I’ve killed many, many orchids.

My mother and I,

killed the first orchid we were given.

We are not a houseplant

sort of family.

A High of Twenty-Two by TheBookyBunhead

Why I Like It:  I’m a sucker for weather poems and for poems with repeated lines.  This one does both beautifully.

Best Part:  I love this middle stanza that perfectly shows the exhilaration/anticipation/fear in a warm day when you’re used to cold ones.

At day’s end hoped it’d still be a dry, high of twenty-two,
Sigh of relief stepping out into fresh air
Body had been programmed to seize up for winter’s chill.

PS 22 Celsius = 72 Fahrenheit

The Best Rhymes in Classic Country

19 Apr

All this poetry this month has me thinking about rhyme–especially perfect end rhyme but also that other rhyme-y stuff like assonance, consonance, alliteration, slant rhyme, etc. I’ll admit most classic country songs consist of trite rhymes such as blue/you and train/rain (which have their place, of course), but this list contains purely the weird, wonderful, and word-play-ish.

Honorable Mention: Saginaw, Michigan by Lefty Frizzell

The Rhyme:

I wrote my love in Saginaw, Michigan.
I said, “Honey, I’m a-comin’ home; please wait for me.
“And you can tell your dad I’m coming back a richer man:
“I’ve hit the biggest strike in Klondike history.”

Why I Love It:  This whole song features a bunch of really forced feminine(multi-syllabic rhymes)  rhymes that (sometimes rather marginally) rhyme with Michigan.  This verse is my favorite because we not only get the Michigan/richer man one, which sounds close enough for a country song and has the added effect of being kind of an eye rhyme (looks as if it ought to rhyme but doesn’t) with the ch, but we also get the bonus feminine rhyme of for me/history.

Sometimes all this is just a little too ham-fisted to me, so the song earns merely an honorable mention.

#5:  He’ll Have to Go by Jim Reeves

The Rhyme:  Listen carefully next time for all the o sounds and ooh sounds.  SO MANY!!!

Why I Love It:  I love a song that can work a particular angle.  Gentleman Jim Reeves is trying to sell to us that he’s open, honest, earnest.  What vowel is more open than o?  None.  None more open.

#4:  9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

The Rhyme:

Tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen

Why I Love It:  The very first line of this fabulous song sets us up for the entire mood of it–hustle and bustle.  We’ve got a feminine internal rhyme (inside a line of poetry instead of at the ends of lines) of tumble/stumble, both of which are basically onomatopoieia (because they’re the sounds you make when you do them), and they both accurately portray just about anybody as he or she is ambling through a dimly lit corridor, stubbing toes and reaching blindly for coffee during the morning routine.

This tumble/stumble also stand as the only internal rhyme in the whole song, which adds to the jumble of everything in the morning–two words that use so much of one’s mouth to say/sing smushed in together in the very first line of a song?  Good work, Dolly.  You’ve got me listening!  (That typewriter-as-percussion doesn’t hurt either, of course.)

#3:  Fist City by Loretta Lynn

The Rhyme:

You better move your feet
if you don’t wanna eat
a meal that’s called Fist City.

Why I Love It:  I love too many songs to really have a favorite, but when asked I always respond with this one.  It’s so spiteful and so silly and so white trash, and I love it thoroughly.

So the rhyme here (feet/eat) is commonplace.  Nothing to write home about.  What makes this pop is the enjambment–the counter-intuitive line break between eat and a meal.  A listener knows that Fist City’s gotta make an appearance at the end of this verse, but when that listener first hears “if you don’t wanna eat,” that listener immediately ponders how exactly Loretta’s going to parlay that into something that ends in Fist City.  “Oh,” the listener says afterward, “the tramp’s going to eat a meal that’s called Fist City.  Oh wait, that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE.”  But this song isn’t about sense.  It’s about blind rage and threats promises and ladies slugging it out in Fist City.

You’ve also got the ee assonance (repeated vowel sound) in feet, eat, meal, City, which shows a screeching harpy sort of side to our narratrix.  I mean, is there a vowel more grating and aggressive than the ee sound?  None.  None more grating.

#2: (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song by B.J. Thomas

The Rhyme:  Oh goodness gracious.  Where to even start…  The entire song is a big poetic-sounds stew.

Why I Love It:  This song’s got it all!  Alliteration!  Assonance!  Internal rhyme!  Perfect end rhyme!  And it gets stuck in a person’s head for years at a time!

The defining factor, of course, is all the uh sounds: love, some, done giving the song a rather droning effect that is both smooth/comforting and sad at once (much like what our narrator is trying to accomplish by having the proverbial you play another cheatin’ song).  But a listener could surfeit himself for a week with all the assonance: hey, play; feel, baby, baby; I, cry; me, melody.  And then we’ve got that completely jarring won’tcha in the middle that breaks all the smoothness for just a moment as the narrator signals to the barman and tries to get his attention.

It’s just a wonderfully crafted little ditty, and I consider this blog post an act of contrition for hating it so much when I used to hear it all the time on easy listening radio stations.  Now I love it–admittedly mostly for nerdy reasons.

#1:  Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn

The Rhyme:

The work we done was hard.
At night we’d sleep ’cause we were tired.

Why I Love It:  Loretta Lynn, you’ve done it again!  You’ve captured dialect so perfectly, and I love you so!  This may or may not be my favorite rhyme ever.

Regular Poem: Just Another Song That Nonsensically Quantifies Teardrops

13 Apr

You know how songs like to quantify teardrops nonsensically?  Well… I’ve spent a lot more time and energy on this poem than I had planned.  I even dug into the deep recesses of my brain/education/the internet to figure exponential equations so the math would be at least partially accurate.  

On the first day that you left me
I did nothin’ but cry.
Good thing I was hefty
’cause even food was passin’ me by.
Just sat all day weepin’,
losin’ all my sleepin’
cryin’ big fat teardrops and wonderin’ why.

On the second day I got to countin’.
Had nothin’ better to do.
I was cryin’ a veritable fountain
since you’d been untrue.
Although my cryin’ seemed never ceasin’,
by approximately 15 percent it had been decreasin’,
but don’t get me wrong I still love you.

Estimate for day one lands at 104-thou
Two’s a little better with 88.
Month later I’m under 800 now.
But even if I extrapolate,
I’ll always be cryin’,
till the moment I’m dyin’,
exponentially cryin’ and how.

Teardrops 104000A

A closer look as the days stretch by:

Teardrops 104000B

I always got points in math for showing my work:

Teardrops 104000

In a short two and a half months, I will be crying fewer than one tear a day!

Book 'Em, Jan O

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