Secret Pop

Feb 14, 2004

The Rhyming Scheme

Many Valentine's Days ago, I wrote a poem that went like this:

Unobscured by hearts and flowers
I wish to simply say
That for these sweet red-painted hours
I love you on this day

And more so as each moment passes
More each breath I take
Every hour more love amasses
And it's for your sake

More so on the next sun's rising
More each morning new
My love just keeps aggrandizing
With the dawning's dew

More each time I see you smiling
More each time you call
Thrilled it's me you're not reviling
Pleased it's me at all

Now I've told you, plain as plainness
Now I've made you see
Yet remaining, sate my vainness
Say it back to me

I think it's the only Valentine's Day poem I ever wrote. Or at least the only one I ever wrote for someone in particular. If you don't count infantile things I might have done back when everything I owned smelled like Elmer's Glue and pink erasers. Back when it didn't count, I guess. I wrote my share of sentimental messages, but few of my sweethearts have been the recipients of poetry. Maybe I knew well enough that I was dating people who would likely not know what to do with it. Anyway, I thought about that poem today. And I thought of other days when I had wanted to write poems but felt a certain paralysis of sentiment. Other years when I would have wanted to write a birthday verse but couldn't muster the generosity of spirit to think of something kind to say. Other Christmases when I fantasized that the shape of my lyrics might make the difference but couldn't seem to bring myself to risk discovering I was wrong. And then there have been times when the rhyming poured out of me with gushing force. When I didn't want to sleep for fear of losing the patter of the meter in my head. Synapses dance when you get it right. For me, they do. Electrochemical firings ally themselves to the rhythm and all of a sudden everything you can think of fits into the syllables you've left. I'm no Shakespeare, but maybe sometimes I feel as if I'm channeling a long-removed bastard son of his. Or something.

Anyway, I look at the softer sentiments I have committed to the page and I sometimes feel sorry for that lost me of a distant part of a forgotten history. I see such humility in her words. Such certainty that she will be scorned. Such confidence that she will not be loved for long. At the time, it was the guise of preemption. Like when you tell everyone how fat you are to keep them from saying it first. At the time, it was that girl's way of glibly defying the inevitable disappointment she was marginally certain awaited her round the next corner or the next. It's hard not to feel sorry for that girl. What I miss of her naivete I also sometimes rejoice to have excised. Wanting to preserve the goodness of a trusting nature is a means of denying the inevitability of growing old. Age, experience, a life lived in any fashion -- these are the pinpricks in the cask that allow the precious water supply to seep away, till you're left in the very heart of the desert with nothing to drink and only the memory of the songs you used to love and no real certainty about which horizon to chase. The world is round. There are no edges to be found.

I lingered in the sunshine today. Felt the prickle of its heat on my pant legs. Had to make do with feathery wisps of my hair blowing past my face and occasionally getting stuck in my lip gloss. After a time, you just let them stay stuck there. It makes me think of those starving children in the sponsorship commercials, covered with flies but making no move to dislodge them. At some point, you get so accustomed to the nuisances that they cease to bother you. But it's surprising and a little bit sad to see that complacency in those who seem too young to have acquiesced to it.

The year I wrote that poem, my Valentine's Day was a disappointment. Disappointment is the offspring of expectation. That is a lesson hard-learned. That Valentine's Day also fell on a Saturday. Like today. The world is a mirror running in circles.

Decontextualized, the poem is still nice. An instrument rather than a memory. I'm not sorry for having written it. I'm just agog at the passage of time.

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