8.03.2006

Poetry Thursday--"Lady"

This week's (completely and totally optional) idea over at Poetry Thursday was "Anyone up for singing along?" What follows here is a 500-word kind-of poem (I'm a fiction writer, not a poet, remember). You won't really know what song I've incorporated until halfway through or so, and (as yet to be determined) prizes go to the readers who manage to make it through the whole thing.


ten minutes till poetry
thursday and i’m trying

to get at some divine moment
that elucidates perfectly human

consciousness—in all its subtleties
and profound intricacies, its longings,

large and small. i’m thinking
of something metaphorical about

the 4-H tent during the county fair,
how judging for the flower competition

has just commenced on the hottest day
of the year. i’m thinking of some girl

with a watering can standing over a vase
full of wildflowers she’s arranged. the girl,

sweaty and worried, knows the judges
will deduct points for wet petals

but she doesn’t want them to droop
either, doesn’t want the whole arrangement

ruined because of this ridiculous heat,
and i’m wondering what she’ll do,

like i said, trying to figure out
the intricacies and subtleties of her

twelve-year-old mind
and heart and put those things

into some sort of action, but i can’t
get styx’s “lady” out of my head.

so there’s the girl with the watering can
and dennis deyoung’s vocals singing

“when i’m with you i’m smiling”
competing for space in my brain

and the singing’s winning out. i
could think about moonlight skates

at the roller rink, holding lynn
jenks’ sweaty hand in mine

as we complete lap after lap,
not wanting the song ever to end,

but instead i’m out of the 4-h barn,
away from the roller rink,

and sitting in a hot car outside the bank
while mom runs inside to cash this week’s

check. it’s 1984, and i’m eight, three
years younger than the song playing

in the cassette player. the car’s
ignition is on, but there’s no air coming out

of the vents because the car’s not
moving or the air condition is broken—

i can’t remember which—and i’m wishing
mom didn’t like styx so much,

that she hadn’t named me dennis
after the lead singer, and that she didn’t

sometimes get drunk and tell me
dennis deyoung was my true father,

not the guy who came to pick me up
every other weekend and who asked me

how mom was doing with this look
on his face like he was still in love

with her, despite it all.

and i’m wishing, too, sitting
in the car, too young for deodorant,

that i wasn’t sweating so much
and that we could just go through

the drive-up window like everybody
else because then the air

conditioner, if it wasn’t broken,
would be running full-steam,

prickling my chest with cool.
but mom, she was always afraid

of those canisters that sank out of the sky
through tubes. she thought that,

like photographs or poetry, or a perfectly
arranged vase of flowers, or a song,

the canisters could snatch
your soul, steal it away,

and never let you have it back.

14 comments:

Jemima said...

Well, I made it through twice, and love the scene you've set so well. I've no idea what the song is even after all of that, but I've known life as a wilted petal, so each to his own, I say.

fringes said...

I didn't try to guess the song. I only wanted to capture the moment of your poem. Wow.

Writing Blind said...

I love this poem. I have no idea what the song is but I love this poem. And I used my Scope today, just for you.

Chad Simpson said...

You are all too kind and deserve serious gifts. I'll get to thinking on them.

As for the song: You don't know Styx's "Lady"? It's a power ballad circa 1973 that hit the top ten in 1975. If you heard it, I'm guessing you'd know it--all of you. Go to iTunes and listen to the sample. Or, um, don't.

lisrobbe said...

Great Job! Styx, of course, how could we not have recognized it. And to think, I have the greatest hits albums.

Writing Blind said...

For some reason I was thinking of "Lady" by Kenny Rogers but now I remember what song you're talking about. And I read your little comment on Lynn's blog and have responded in kind.

Chad Simpson said...

Next up: a poem that incorporates "Lady" by Kenny Rogers.

Or "The Gambler"

Know when to walk away,
Know when to...

Writing Blind said...

*Sigh* This is why I love you.

liz elayne said...

i had so much to say after i read this poem...
but then i read the comments...
and got stuck on kenny rogers...i love him (well, let's just say he was a big part of my child hood; even wrote a post all about him earlier this year...though if i wrote a poem about him it might include how i wish he would have never gotten all the plastic surgery and just owned that he is the gambler).

but i do want to say, the scenes you have created here, how you move through them...it is like i got to tiptoe through your mind for a moment. fantastic.

Chad Simpson said...

Thanks so much, liz.

Wasn't Kenny Rogers a large part of everyone's childhood?

And I'm with you on the plastic surgery thing; he does look quite freakish lately.

Michelle Fry said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I enjoyed this poem and think it's quite elegant.

Dana said...

Well, this meanders in a wonderful and unexpected way. I love it. But I am biased because I loved what you wrote last week, and I will probably love everything you write from here on out.

Can I just go on about what I love? OK, the unfolding. The way we start out learning about this girl, and we end up learning about the speaker's life/circumstances as the poem progresses. I love that shift in focus. And I love the ending. It’s killer.

Verity said...

This is wonderful, love the stream of consciousness flow to it, the way you're present all the way through, it kept me glued.

Southern Writer said...

I love the nostalgic feel of this piece, and I know the song well, although I think Renegade was their best tune ever (even if Tommy Shaw thought he was on the "lamb," and I wonder what he was really thinking when he wrote it, and they went down hill ninety miles an hour with Mr. Roboto).