Sunday, May 25, 2014

Delirium

I was raving again, wasn't I?
Look at the face on ya, it must have been choice.
I never used to have these fevers,
not until I slept with Lady Liberty, back in France,
with her tablet propped like a painting against the plaster wall.
Oh, I was yearning to breathe free,
and to be in the arms
of a very tall woman;
She had copper-colored hair then,
and had never seen America.
I took my clothes off, lay back on the hotel bed and said,
"Here it is, babe."

Now look, I may not be in a position to give advice here,
but you should smile more.
Even once would be nice, because
you're making me nervous wondering what I said.
I used to drink, yanno,
no ladylike sips either.
I could tip a bottle back and lose whole nights down the rabbit hole.
Goddess only knows what I mighta done, those times,
and I'm glad I can't remember it all.
Mercy comes in all varieties.
One bird-bright morning, I decided I didn't want to die,
and so I swore off, but Jay came and did the heavy lifting.
I been Catholic ever since.

I slept with a woman once who kissed the crucifix 
that I used to wear on a pretty chain around my throat.
Every word I spoke was holy,
and my love was holy,
and I received her like Heaven does the saints.
Lookit me now, hoo boy.
Restrained for my own protection,
coming out with Goddess-knows-what in my delirium.
I knew a woman once who could fix cars,
she had dark hair and blessed fingers.
If only I could lie on her lift right now, and let her tinker with me;
I just know I'd feel better.
But, noOoooo, here I am with you instead.

I think I know what I must have said,
just by the starch in your bedside manner.
It wouldn't be the first time;
it wouldn't even be the first time sober.
Cranked up with fever, I bet I said,
"Love me, babe, like I love you.
I can make ya happy,
forever true."
Before the day is out,
and despite what y'all say to the customers,
I bet I'll be a funny story in the staff room.
I just wanna know,
is this a Catholic hospital?
I'd feel forgiven if it is.
A girl can't be a priest, but she can be a saint,
so, in certain things, I have aimed high.

Long after that French encounter,
after the fevers began,
I took up poetry
and got kicked out of seventeen countries.
Me and Emma Lazarus ended up here,
as tempest-tossed as they come.
After a while, my third-hand Renault broke down,
before I even got out of New York,
but I met the chick mechanic because of it.
Even a blind squirrel finds a diamond sometimes,
and when, wearing nothing but my silver cross,
I looked out of the window of her walk-up,
I saw Lady Liberty and I'll admit, it gave me a sweet satisfaction
to see her out there in the harbor holding her torch
and turning green.
_______
 
Photograph by Margaret Bednar, from her post of January 21st, 2012.  I have written this poem for, and linked to, her Play It Again Toads #5, at Real Toads.

 
 
 
 

11 comments:

Björn Rudberg said...

A lot to like in your text.. Particularly that decision not to die.. Those points are the real diverging roads... The crossroad where you change direction.

Fireblossom said...

Okay, you're the second straight person to refer to a poem of mine as "text". Technical manuals have "text". The minutes of the town council have "text". Teenagers text. But poetry, including free verse, is poetry.

TexWisGirl said...

'one bird-bright morning' just love your descriptiveness.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Every word I spoke was holy,
and my love was holy,
and I received her like Heaven does the saints.

At the heart of this, the poem is about love as is so much of what you write, and I never tire of the angles from which approach the subject.

Helen said...

Delirium never sounded so tempting .. awesome poem, Shay.

hedgewitch said...

This really does have the rambling feel of delirium, of the familiar warped, of oddly juxtaposed times and places kaleidoscoping into a swirl of colored focus that shows too many things to pick out any single one--and yet, it also has the ring of personal truth, very clearly and plainly stated under the raving and wandering from one thing to another. Love is holy, the loving one and the loved, the faith outside the experience that shines the light. I especially love what you've done with Lady Liberty--and what she did with the speaker. ;_)

Anne Sexton said...

"and to be in the arms
of a very tall woman" Ha!

"Mercy comes in all varieties." There's so much truth in this line. I love the way it works with the next line, the slant rhyme in "varieties," "bright," "decided," and "die." And throughout the poem, actually. Gentle rhymes make poetry dance, for me. Like "kissed" and "crucifix," or "throat," "spoke," and "holy."

Another hard-hitting line: "Restrained for my own protection"

Ooh, and this line: "coming out with Goddess-knows-what in my delirium," especially the way it segues into the next so abruptly.

Gorgeous: "she had dark hair and blessed fingers." And that next line is so clever.

"after the fevers began,
I took up poetry
and got kicked out of seventeen countries." :)

"and I'll admit, it gave me a sweet satisfaction
to see her out there in the harbor holding her torch
and turning green" Ha! Perfect ending. Your writing is so sharp.

I love the playful tone; we've all been with someone just because of odd timing, certain things just lining up in such a way that we paired off with a person out of delirium (and not the good kind). But it's still fun to watch them squirm (or turn "green," as it were) with jealousy.

Cloudia said...

your mind thrills me like a species of s-e-x



ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
=^..^=

Sioux said...

Shay--This made me think of John Prine's "The Great Compromise."

Thought-provoking as usual...

Mama Zen said...

"Mercy comes in all varieties."

I'm going to remember that.

Margaret said...

"A girl can't be a priest, but she can be a saint,"… So many really good lines - I can't help love the concept of this room having two women in a bed :) Now, back in the day, some of these boarding houses DID have three men to a bed… ha

The opening line just cracks me up.