Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Before the Party: A Poem from 2005

I didn’t want the other guests to arrive
As I helped you put out glasses and plates.
You laughed and said Nobody celebrates
A thirtieth alone
, do they? I knew
That moment's fragile joy couldn’t survive
The next intruder to come smirking through
Your door. But after all, we’re only mates.

The inner sanctum is the only room;
Nothing is holy outside you and me.
Ringing the door-bell now is blasphemy.
The soul is a kingdom charted two by two.
The door-bell rings. Sir Thomas, I presume
And loneliness begins again at three

I'm going through all my old poetry, trying to collect them together and to digitize all the ones I only have in manuscripts. It's proving to be quite a task.

This is one of the better ones I've come across, that I haven't posted on this blog already. I think the second verse is very good, if I say so myself.

At this point of my life, I was writing a lot of poems portraying fictional, dramatic situations. Reading back on them, I cringe at their knowing, worldly-wise tone. Based on my life circumstances, this affectation was ludicrous. I'm not worldly wise today. I was even less worldly-wise in 2005.

But that's one of the dilemmas of poetry. You don't want it to be pure self-expression, since you want to speak to universal (or at least, widespread) human experience. But writing from a God's-eye view is also difficult, since most of us are not God. You have to find some compromise between the two.

Although this poem describes a fictional situation, it's definitely influenced by a powerful unrequited crush I had at the time. I say "crush", but it was not a fleeting thing, and lasted a couple of years. But I was very firmly "friend-zoned" (as they say these days). I think this poem might fairly speak to any young man caught in such a situation.

Is it obvious that the girl is greeting a new arrival, ironically, as "Sir Thomas"? I hope it is.

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