Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Female Singer-Songwriter Blues

Instead of just posting new stuff I'm going to do something a little different. Here are the three poems thus far comprise my female singer-songwriter blues series. I can give commentary on these for once.

This first one was written in 2009. I was listening to the album mentioned a good deal during that period around the time and for whatever reason to decided to throw it in. It was in my first chapbook, and I'm especially proud of the last stanza.

"aimee mann's blues"

i tried to say i was sorry
it just didn't work
i threw down my wallet and your car keys
and i walked out the door exhaling smoke

aimee mann was on the stereo
why the fuck were you listening to aimee mann?
if i ever manage to get far enough away
i will never listen to "the forgotten arm" again

no, you didn't throw me out, i left
i'm not sorry, though i said i was
i would do it again, please please
won't you give me a chance to do it again?

when the fireworks have been forgotten
i will sip water and rejoice
i will light a candle to the memory
of every woman i've lost or given away

The next was written in hospital early this year. I had a line about tucson stuck in my head for a few hours before I put on some Fuller. It sort of fell together after that. I swear there was a blues between the first an d second, but I haven't found one.

"lindsay fuller's blues"

the last i recall of tucson 
was a gas-up on the edge of town
we spun them wheels like we were breaking teeth
chucking bottles from the window and
fuller was on the radio so
we sang as if this time we knew where we were going

let every sad song i ever hear
be an epitaph for every girl i'll never see again
let their memories be like
the bottles and trails of cigarette smoke i leave in my wake
i'm only as vacant as i need to be 
they're only as close as i need them to be

we said "fuck california", and headed east
played the "cheap dates" record all the way through new mexico
you don't notice the sights when you're flying blind
but you hear the music, and it matters
sometimes it's all that does

i've chased my whiskey with so many ruthless women
some of them i miss the way i would the rain
the pain in your stomach never quite settles
after you've learned a lover is dead
but there's always another folk song
and usually it's easier to just force your eyes ahead

this time i think i'm headed south
there ain't no place like the goddamn south
i may wind up in a drunk tank in the bible belt
or as bones on some deserted stretch of highway
but before i'm gone
i'll litter america with my poems, like johnny appleseed

This next one, I was literally thinking  about ripping off Tori Amos, the song below. I really do need to try and rip it off.

This was written oddly, and it feels rushed to me because of it. Somebody cam e over while I was writing the second stanza and I had to finish the poem with him watching before I lost it. I remember planning to write a fifth and final verse when I wrote the second draft, but it didn't need it. The title came about with the second draft, and I only gave it that title to fit in with thi this series. 

“tori amos’ blues”
i wasn’t there that day
i was too busy thinking about
ripping off tori amos, i think
your thoughts were in my hands, i slipped
i threw myself towards the wilderness, i inhaled

all these faceless fucks 
that barter through our lives 
their tempers are relentless, but I found in them a prayer
an answer to our self reliance
something to dance w/
other than destruction

a rainy fever threw you 
the day i came back
i stood in the door with no umbrella
i was weighing options, but you never gave me a chance
you threw accusations my way
i stumbled, shook, then stood.

i would rather not return 
to balance barren days with oblivion 
but i’ll take my chances
trouble comes when it must 
i only hope to be
five minutes stable

I hope these were enjoyable, and please comment. There will be more of these, but they'll come in their own time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I am losing control of the language again

New stuff. Stuff I really like. The first poem was inspired by an unreleased early version of Prince's Elephants and Flowers. I also completely ripped off three or four lines from that. It's kind of unlike anything I've ever written. The phrase "only lovers left alive" isn't original, but its one I've been wanting to use for a very long time.
The second one was inspired by my sister using the title title phrase, hence her name in the subtitle, though she has nothing else to do with it. In a way its much like pretty much everything I write: depressing as hell and championing loneliness.  Most of its from the point of view of a character I don't know very well, but there's one line that's directly out of my own existence. Also, the line "all that's good is leaving" was cribbed from a Lindsay Fuller song, but I'm pretty sure I meant it in a different way than she did. Enjoy! Comment! Etc.!

 “only lovers left alive”

love leaves her stranded
on a cold november night
she finds a club, finds a drink
finds a partner she don’t have to teach
she focuses on the patterns, lets the night take her in its sweep

she takes the boy by the hand
the only thing he understands
is that she wants him on the dance floor
this is nothing new, a flash of heat
emotions strange, flattery flows like perfume

the boy’s barely alive
barely legal, barely anything
but he’s a natural, his body knows the way
she puts a finger to his lips
as if it’s a question, and he the answer

they’ll lose each other tomorrow
tonight belongs to sweat
frantic in a haze, they embrace each other
and for some brief, undefined moment
they are the only lovers left alive

“leaving las crucas (for kathryn)”

leaving las crucas with the weight behind me
liquor bottles in the backseat, belly full up
red eyes focused on the rearview
as if something is bound to give chase
maybe if i keep my foot on the pedal i won’t collapse

anywhere you go, you’re moving forward
never know what you’re leaving until it’s gone
when i think about the bad days
 i want to make the ones coming worse
i would break my back for salvation, but i’d only fuck things up again

endless chances brought about by endless cans of oblivion
i found my way past you, now i can’t find my way back
I never think about what i’m giving up until i’ve bartered it away
prayers were answered, but
i didn’t realize until i had shit on the results

don’t know what city i’ll leave next
all that’s good is leaving
i can’t escape myself,  the ruins behind me, they pace my memories
no such thing as safety in numbers
the only sure thing is staying alone and focused ahead

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Now i was 18/out there on the block/Selling drugs/With a gun at my waist/And for people I had no love

My current goal is to put something new up here every two weeks or so. I'm trying to write at least one new thing a week so that should give me enough to hold onto. I like to hold onto a few that no one has seen. This poem isn't great. It's actually pretty stereotypical Whitelaw. If you've read a lot of my stuff you've seen these themes over and again. Aw well.

“insufficient data”
do i wish that i was never born?
i don’t know what the alternative would have been
i don’t have enough information
to make an informed decision

do i wish that i was dead?
not right now, things are okay
but that could change
at any moment

the frailty of existence
tempts me into low times
but i’ve heard that there are better things
than being sad and alone

i might investigate that theory any day now
 or not, and I’ll stay where I’m sitting
as i’ve done for years
bleeding ink like tears onto paper, or into nowhere

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two poems

I know it's been an eternity, fuck it. Here's two new poem.I don't remember where the first one came from, but at some point while I was writing the second I started thinking about an obscure (is there any other kind) Vic Chesnutt song, "Backsliding Deist's Prayer" and I found a direction. I think these were both written in August, and they're pretty goddamn depressing. Summer brings out the worst in me.

“backsliding atheist’s prayer”
it is always dusk
wherever it is i come from
the shops open and close and
nothing changes, not a dimmer or brighter light

the sun hurts my eyes
the dark scares me sober
i’m never safe
but i can’t return home

my sentence was stiffly read
i couldn’t choke up an alibi
i’ll take the flames, or i’ll take the ice
but i’ll never take back my word

the knowledge is the hardest part
it’s difficult to be afraid when there’s nothing to fear
but i’m backsliding again
 and there isn’a thing to hear my prayer

“another one for the lovers”
i reached to hug her, she snuck a kiss, i didn’t mind
as i closed her car door i looked back
i returned her smile, that was the last time i saw her
disaster is a slippery thing, it always surprises

most love affairs never get started
they present themselves like puffs of smoke
if it gets into your lungs
you hold it like a crack hit, never wanting down

everything ends, whether in sprit, or in deed
some are luckier than others in this regard
some enjoy the eternal suffering, some go after it like badminton
we all end in the same place, we might as well enjoy it how we can