Thursday April 16th, 2009

The exercise:

I think it's well past time to bust out one of my favorite exercises (I was going to write my absolute favorite when I realized I've got a small collection of them now. Funny what happens after more than 300 days of writing practice).

So here's the deal: grab a collection of CDs, your iPod, or just wander over to YouTube. Pick a song at random, or surf through a couple until you find something that works for you.

Now take the first one or two lines from that song and use them as the first line(s) of your poetry or prose. As demonstrated by mine, you just never know where it will take you until you get there.


Bright Eyes - First Day of my Life

This is the first day of my life -
I swear I was born right in the doorway.
All that came before this moment
Was swept away by your fragile bouquet;
I know with each step that you take
That our love will never wilt or decay.

With sweet peace in our hearts and souls,
We stand side by side with nothing to fear;
There is no need to look around,
We know that all our dearest friends are here.
With two rings we are united,
Eyes shed only the happiest of tears.


PersicaPit said...

I know this is from last week, but my weekend was hectic and I didn't have time to finish it until this afternoon. Also, I love your piece - it really hit a special note with me, as I attended a wedding this past weekend, and this could've been written about the couple exchanging vows. Really beautiful, and I love Bright Eyes. ;)

Anyway, here's my contribution.

I Summon YouSpoon - I Summon YouRemember the weight of the world? It's a sound that we used to buy on cassette and 45, you and me driving aimlessly down highways at night, listening to songs written before we were born. My hand on the gearshift, your feet hanging out the open window. We smoked pilfered cigarettes and sang about fortunate sons, gold dust women, and answers blowing in some distant, unknown wind. We sang and smoked until our throats were raw, but we didn't care. We never cared.

We didn't care because we didn't know. How could we? We were just kids. We listened to Bob Dylan because no one else did. We screamed along with Johnny Rotten about anarchy, but we didn't get the concept. When airy pop music by Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys took over the radio, we turned to Britpop and shouted with Jarvis Cocker about how we were common people, never realizing how much money our parents actually made.

After all, it was just music. We liked it because it was pretty. We liked the delicacy of Neil Young's voice, the raging guitars of the Rolling Stones. We loved that great opening rift to The Doors' "Touch Me," you drumming your fists on the dashboard of my shitty old Celica as the song built to a crescendo. The first time you played me Joni Mitchell, I thought she wrote that song about you – you, so beautiful, so deeply ingrained into my heart that I thought you would always be as constant as a northern star. You would always be there, right beside me, and the world would always be just a set of lyrics we didn't need to understand.

And then we grew up.

Remember the weight of the world? It's more than just a sound now, and we can't drive away from it anymore. It's everywhere, blaring from television screens and radios, printed in bold ink on the front pages of newspapers. Terrorists reducing skyscrapers to rubble. Teenagers shooting up schools. Wars we can't win, enemies we can't fight, natural disasters sinking cities, economies falling to pieces, and I feel it all. I feel it all, and God, how I wish I didn't.

I still drive, you know. On those long, restless nights when the worries get to be too much (how will we pay the bills, how can we make ends meet, how can the world be so different than what we thought it was), I leave my wife alone in bed, get in my newer (but still shitty) car, and drive. I take the roads we used to take together, those long, winding highways, and I smoke the cigarettes we used to smoke together.

And I listen to our songs.

I get them now. Experience will do that for a person, I suppose. I think of my brother in rehab, and I know about the needle and the damage done. I know why Dylan used to rasp about war pigs, and I ache for the unfortunate sons who come back from foreign countries without arms or legs or faces. I hear the words and they rattle in my bones, tense and aching, and I wish I was just a kid again. I wish it was just music, like it used to be. I wish …

But oh, where are you tonight? Where is my northern star, my constant in the darkness? Why aren't you here with me, your bare feet catching breezes from the open window, your fingers curled around your cigarettes? Where is your laughter? Where is your voice? Don't you see that I need you? That it was you who made me feel so light? Can't you understand that it was you who kept the world from touching us?

I don't know. I don't know much of anything these days. I thought it was supposed to be different. I thought I'd have the answers by now. But the answers I have only make me hurt, and if this is what growing up is like, I'd rather just be with you again.

So come home. Come back to me. Make me feel young again. Make me who I used to be, before I understood too much, before the world crept in, before the music started killing me. There's still a place for you here, nestled into the passenger seat, stitched into my heart. I need you. I beg you. I've got the weight of the world now, and I summon you here with my love.

But you never come, and the music never stops.

Marc said...

Better late than never - especially if you spend that much time on it!

I love that you continued the musical theme throughout your writing and didn't just leave it behind at the start.

I haven't had a chance to listen to the song you chose but I will do so shortly.