Friday, October 19, 2012

The Poet Gets a Job and Winds Up in Prison

[Editor's note: As before, we have received another missive from the Poet.  He writes ... ]

Since I was broke (as I usually am - sweet Lady Poverty!) I had to put on a suit and go into work.

The janitor and I began drinking at 5:30 and spent the night singing and telling lies about the women we've loved.  When we ran out of cheap scotch, we moved on to cheap vodka, and then to the cleaning fluid, I think.  Though I can't be sure, as my mind is fuzzy and my head still hurts.

Some time before dawn, I began to recite my Ode to You.  You've never heard it.  I carry it around in my heart, and I keep changing the verses, for I can never get it right.  It pours out when my heart aches the hardest, flowing like blood from a wound that won't heal - like the wound that you gave me.  Well, His wounds didn't heal, did they?  His Father brought Him back from the dead, and yet He still had those dreadful wounds, even in that perfect body, that resurrected form.  He used them to settle the doubts of Thomas and to throw the apostle to his knees exclaiming, "My Lord and my God!"  He still has them in heaven, I'm certain of that.  They continue to bleed and the chalice at every Mass is filled with the blood that pours out, the blood his aching heart sheds for our sake, for us men, ungrateful, heedless.

We don't care, you see.  That's what it comes down to. 

We don't really care.  If we cared, our churches would not be as ugly as shopping malls, as ugly as sin.  If we cared our church hymns would not be contrived and hollow shells of narcissism-set-to-music.  If we cared, babies wouldn't die in the womb.  If we cared, we wouldn't have bad poems, bad songs, bad art.  If we cared, bishops wouldn't turn a blind eye to liturgical abuse, to child abuse, to God-abuse.

I've known all of that for a while - and I 've know that the word "care" comes from caritas, which is charity or love.   We don't care.  We have no caritas.  We have no love.  People tell me I shouldn't sing to you, that you don't care - that you simply don't care.  I know they're right.  But the song comes out on its own, sometimes a wail, sometimes a lamentation - always a song of a perfect love perfectly rejected.  For the wound still bleeds and the blood still flows, even in the coldness left by your passing, your passively passing, high and mighty in your carriage toward the palace, passing by, by-passing, with not a care in the world.  And I sit by, poor and muddy on the street, strumming my lost chords at you.

At any rate, when the Boss came in at 7:00 - why does he work so early and stay so late? - we had made an utter mess of things.  I should have pretended to be contrite and sorry, but I had composed a satiric ballad in mockery of the Boss and since the janitor appreciated it before he passed out, I thought the Old Man would too.  Well, he didn't.  One doesn't want to hear brilliantly biting verse at that hour of the morning, particularly when the lampoon is launched at one's self.  Or so the Boss implied when he walloped me.  And, frankly, I could have done better than to rhyme "suit" with "fruit".  The Old Man did not seem concerned with the rhyme or meter, at any rate.  It was the tone that offended him, or so it seemed. 

Anyway, he threw me into Worker's Prison.  The Cubicle, they call it.  I would stare out the window and finish the final chorus of my Ode to You, but all I can see is the cork board siding of the sterile divider.  There's not a window in this place - except the "Windows" on the computer.

Somewhere you sit in your palace - a place I seem to recall from a dream or from a previous life.  You have windows, but it's drafty.  I'm sure of that.  I'm sure it's cold in there, for a coldness seems to follow you and your train of courtiers and admirers and servants and staff.  Even the warmth of the blood that pours from me cannot change that. 

And so I turn to do a job I am shackled to.  I turn to give my waking life to making the Boss his fortune.  I turn to do carefully something I don't care for at all.  I turn to make the Old Man happy.

And the clock ticks its way to 5:00, to 6:00 (I'm working late tonight) and the only Window I see glows a cold and lifeless blue.  Blue screen of death, they call it. 

We got this right once, didn't we?  In another life, at another time.  When I was a better poet, and you were a better princess.

When not only God, but also you and I cared.

But if that world had ever been, it is no more.  Perhaps it was a dream, and I sit dreaming of a dream, fantasizing on a phantasm. 

Oh, well.  I put away the guitar. 

I go back to work.

To the droning buzz of the fluorescent light.  To the hum of the malfunctioning computer.  To the sound of a world without love.


Pavel Chichikov said...

It's really perfect - and for me even better because it accords with my thought and emotions. Just yesterday I saw a photo of a child who had been burned almost to death - by somebody, for some reason, I have an emotonally hard time actually reading those stories. I wrote a poem about it, and as I was writing the poem Kevin was going along a closely parallel path of thoughts.


Pavel Chichikov said...

Wanted to add that a Soviet journalist I used to know, who was also a severe critic of the Soviet system, used to describe that society as one in which "nobody cares."