Edgar Lee Masters’ 1915 book, Spoon River Anthology, consists of poetic monologues, each spoken by a dead person buried in the fictional town of Spoon River.
My day eight NaPo prompt/assignment was to read a few of Masters’ poems, then write a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead.
“Good morning America how are ya?” *
I’m J. R. Cash but call me Johnny.
I been a singer ‘n writer of songs all my life.
I wrote poems, too. Not no more though.
Paul and John Carter made a book
sometime after I moved out here.
I made lists of do’s and don’ts,
like who to kiss and who not.
Rockabilly, I walked the line in
more than one ring of fire.
Sue was a joke, Jackson was not. Either way,
I was the man in black, or undertaker was okay.
The Hag caught my San Quentin show. He signed up.
I was inside less than him. Now, I’m back with Jack
on the orange blossom special.
How ‘er my pals from Bitter Tears doing?
Ya know, that Lonesome Dove fellow?
He just hopped on this train.
“And often I say, No more I do it/
But I miss the traveling/And I miss the songs.” **
*From The City of New Orleans written by Steve Goodman, covered by many.
**Quotation from Cash’s poem, “My Song,” in Forever Words: The Unknown Poems.
Notes: ‘Paul’ Muldoon edited Forever Words. ‘John Cater’ Cash is his son. ‘Jack’ refers to his brother who was killed in an accident at a young age. ‘Hag’ refers to Merle Haggard.
Look both ways when you cross memory lane.
Mind the gaps well, or a song you might miss.
Yesterday, Morris Mac Davis (January 21, 1942 – September 29, 2020) died, as did Helen Reddy (25 October 1941 – 29 September 2020). Mac was a country music singer, songwriter, and actor, originally from Lubbock, Texas. He was one of (if not the) my wife’s favorites. I wrote this poem a few weeks ago. I kind of relate it to his song, The Words Don’t Come Easy.
Grant Me the Words
I want words to share with her,
to impress her, to draw her closer.
Are there such words? Is what I feel
a force? One that words can’t say?
Words must say what I want. This world isn’t
perfect. People have people issues,
life is life, it is all relative. Except love.
Love is not relative. Love comes in thousands
of different flavors. That love is not this love.
Each is special. Each unique. Each its own.
The pain is not the love, it is not the passion,
it is not the physical or mental human reality.
It is the inability to tell another human being
how much you love them. How much you care.
We suffer most not because we love, but because
we lack the humanity to share our words of love
with the world, because we don’t know what they are.
But we try. We must always try.
Look both ways at the good things in life, like love.
Mind the gaps for lessons and reasons. Always try.
They don’t come easy but find the words.
The 28th day of NaPoWriMo prompted me to draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. Ain’t it funny, how time drifts away? I got local with vernacular and dialog and supported it with a short video clip.
Fix’n ta Pit Stop
Ah war-out ‘tween Austin an Waco, west-a the shinry an’ east a’the hill country. Mah butt was plum give-out. Feelin’ a smidgen puny, ah dismounted. Lucky as all-git-out, seen a big’o swait-tay saloon o’er yonder. It’ud be jist the thang, cuz ah was fixin’ to be flat as a cow-patty, ‘n dry as Odessa. Ah jerked up mah britches, an moseyed o’r to Harly’s Truck Stop. Dark as a big thicket, them ‘boys gimme a look’n over. Ah tipped mah sombrero, “Howdy. How y’all doin’?” “Ah’ite, ah’rite,” and “better’n all git out,” an one oh’boy yelled, “How ‘bout them ka‘boys?” Barkeep smiled, “Wha’cha drinkin’?” “I’ll have Shirly Temple.” Bar goes silent. Bar back says, “She jist left.” Ah near got-down with all the hootin’ and a-hall-erin’. “Well then, how ‘bout cold Lone Star? An gimme some’a-dem chips ‘n sausa.” Ah drank-up ‘n warshed-up, “Been good. Nite-cha-all,” and ah headed out fer Willie’s Place up ‘a road prit’-near Carl’s Corner.
(Bill Reynolds, 4/28/2018)
This is where I live folks. Lest you think I make this shit up:
Ride sober, look both ways, take breaks,
drink un-swait-tay, mind the gaps,
and love Willie.