Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Merle Haggard -- Hungry Eyes

Last weekend, when I watched Walk the Line with my g/f, it didn't make me want to listen to Johnny Cash songs. Don't get me wrong, I like Cash, I have all the American Recordings CDs, the really good stuff he did with Rick Rubin in the last few years of his life. It's just that the movie features Cash's performance at Folsom and Cash's compassion for guys doing time, and Merle Haggard got turned onto the idea of being a musician from seeing Cash at San Quentin when Haggard was doing time there. So I immediately wanted to hear lots of Merle.

This is Mt. Baldy today, Mt. Baldy with a funky cloud over it. Mt. Baldy in the golden sunset that's also partly that color because of pollution of course. Most of LA and Orange County is dominated by the San Gabriel mountains. You know where you are by where the mountains are... they are to the north, pretty much running uninterrupted east to west on the horizon. And Mt. Baldy is the biggest peak visible from Orange and LA County.

My daughter is crawling through her math homework. I remember when I was her age. I did the same thing, torture myself with this stuff over hours, taking twenty minutes to do one problem. Actually, I remember when I did the same thing today, taking forever to do the most basic stuff at work, totally unable to focus for a couple hours, just doing whatever I could find that required no thinking at all, clerical junk, simple customer requests... I never know if it's normal stuff for me or something I need to get treatment for. Because in today's world you cannot afford to be distracted for a second. It all moves too quickly. We've got to be focused all the time. Get those productivity numbers. Be Perfect all the time.

At least until Osama comes. Then it's prayer five times a day, not to mention mandatory time away from work watching the beheadings, and men having problems picking out their wives in the supermarket and misguided attempts at coontinuing the American Way of Life, like wet burka contests. Just as well. I have long believed that this whole civilization thing was an evolutionary misstep. This is a poem I wrote over ten years ago--

Paradise Lost

Walking between the cages
at the zoo, looking at the monkeys
looking at me
feeling the sun burning my forehead
and feeling, deep down, that it should
not be this way. I was never meant to walk erect,
never meant to have a bare forehead, face, arms,
belly, never meant to wear clothes, speak, eat food
I did not kill or forage with my own hands,
never meant to mate with a female I first did not fight
another male to death or near-death for.

It should not be this way;
there was a left turn where there should have been a right,
there was something missed somewhere,
something that went wrong,
long ago

and now I and the others of my kind are
walking between our caged brothers and sisters

and all I can feel is the loss of what used to be
all those years ago, when we were what we were meant to be,
before someone screwed up, stood up, and did not go back down.

Yeah. That poetry thing. I need to start up again. I've been away from it too long. Six years ago I was writing four or five a week. Then again, six years ago I was working at a dead-end job and loveless. So it's OK for now.

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