Secret Pop

Mar 1, 2002

In like a lion

Last year, in the month of March, I went to see a poetry reading by a guy called Tim Gibbard. I had had dinner at my sister's house and was planning to meet someone later. That never happened.

The poetry reading was at Claire de Lune in North Park. It was the first time I'd been there. I saw a notice in The Reader about a poetry reading that sounded interesting, and I was in the habit -- at the time -- of concocting agendas for myself and attempting to go out and do more and see more and spend less time on my sullen couch in front of a television with nothing playing on it. It was a Tuesday night, wasn't it? And the featured performer was Tim Gibbard. And I had no idea who he was. But I went just the same.

Tim Gibbard was British and tall and bald and frenzied. And I loved watching him and listening to him. And I was annoyed by the number of high-schoolers taking up space, chit-chatting and writing in their slam books. I bought his book. He signed it for me, "To Mary, My 1st Fan." Here are some things he read that night:

The Ruby Slippers

So I retreated to my room, I couldn't stand to talk to watch. I found the cracks widening, the darkness welling like smoke to choke me, thick and sticking, blinding and hot.

From the earliest memories of swapping lines, the smell of warmth, mutual comforts, to this, so shallow, so fleeting. An outstretched hand so shaken and forgotten.

The memories of the depths we reached inscribed in the tracks of an outstretched arm. Grown purple now: the bruising incisions where I let you in each day.

All day, every day, day in day out, by the week, by the month, by the years that built us like giants, twinning us like pillars, strength and knowledge, humour and pathos, sweetness and sorrow.

Now parted we have become the furthest points of a right triangle. The square of our hypotheses, an immeasurable value, holding us at the perfect distance for forgetfulness.

At odds, me becoming the sea against your mountain, you the road that leads from my door. We will never return to Narnia, lamplight on snow. We have become our own wardrobe, the doors always opening away.

The darkness at our backs, the depth of our time together, an uninhibited place, a collection of furs and damp overcoats shared and exchanged, now sickening and blue. The pale blue of envy, distrust and sorrow, misunderstood loyalties and the backtracking of beliefs.

It is the smell of a sour autumn, too long gestated and never wholly aired, left to hang in a clear winter sky.

Take the blessing, it really is time for you to go.

Just think and you'll be there, at a speed unattainable in our lives. Just think and you will be there, where you want, there, where you need, there, where you can sleep soundly, there, a place where you are happy, a place where I do not live.

There; a place where I could only ever be, the jester, the confidant's fool, the privy listener.

There; where you are the dealer to my addict, the smiling priest to my rabbi, the slowly withdrawing thorn from my heart.

There; where I would always be the Siamese brother to the Surgeon General.

We are half-clasped hands, gritting our teeth against the cyclone that tears at our palms.

You are right and if I grow to understand, we will once more take flight like birds of a nest but for now I am lost and if one day perhaps you grew to understand, you would come looking for me.

You would come looking for me because I am lost. You would come looking for me because I am lost. Lost to you and you need me and perhaps if I am lucky, if I am very, very lucky, you will find me.


It was only an old blue summer dress; white flowers small and pretty but I kept it to remind me of the night I fell in love with you.

When, as if from the lips of gods, I heard the thunder call your name, the lightning that showered you, your image burning in my eyes.

The rain that soaked the cotton, clinging to your skin, as you have clung to me. The torrid sweat that ran between us, a flooded sidewalk at our feet.

Just one kiss was all we needed, one kiss we could both believe in. One kiss that would let us know that somehow this was meant to be.

The one kiss I could not leave without stealing on that early mroning when my departure swept away the distances between our lives.

And when we were far apart, the eloquence of letters brought me close enough to touch you, when we didn't know the words to use.

Then of our second meeting, how we fumbled it like children and the tenderness of your touch when we learnt we didn't need to speak.

And your flight into my arms when we had already said goodbye, that night of chasing constellations, wishing on the stars

And of the day that I asked you and the day you said yes to me, the nights that we made love as if we knew the dawn would break the spell.

Only an old blue summer dress, white flowers, small and pretty but I kept it to remind me of how the seasons come and go

And the day that you decided that you didn't want it anymore and left it, like abandoned poems, in some dark and dusty room, was the very day on which I learnt forever is a lonely place. No message, in an empty bottle, lost upon the sea

And how I was such a fool, when you said we could be lovers because I thought of rivers walked and games beneath the moon and so I just cloed my eyes to my own crucifixion, while your passioned breath was calling for, another sun to rise.

Only an old blue summer dress, white flowers, small and pretty but I kept it to remind me ov every day that ever dawns

And every drop of rain that ever falls to make the deserts bloom, now falls upon my hopes and dreas, the fragile times we found together

But it will

Never quench the flames that burn in my heart, turning memories to ashes, cast into the winds that sweep across your land

And sometimes if you will wonder why the future doesn't seem so bright, then maybe you're remembering how our gardens used to grow and you will stare into the distance, see the smoke on the horizon and tiny blackened petals will bring a tear to your eye


Burning, like the memory of the night I fell in love with you, that old blue summer dress will match the fires in the sky.

I was wearing new boots that I had bought several months previously and was thrilled to wear. I was wearing anticipation. Urgency. I was wearing a blue shirt with velvet and lace and interesting prints on it. I was wearing the knowledge that it was time to give up and go home.

He was a cool guy, this Tim Gibbard. If you ever have the chance to hear him perform, you should hop on it.

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