Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Other Two Sonnets Written While Watching The Yankees Lose To Texas

Here are the other two sonnets which my implacable muse sent me during that Yankee game a week ago. I’ve been putting off finishing them to work on a Countrie Matters rewrite, which has gotten nowhere because, well, this is the way the conversation’s gone for the last 10 days:

MERRY: I want you to finish those two love sonnets.
MATTHEW: No, we’re writing Countrie Matters.
MERRY: No, you’re writing Countrie Matters. I’m doing nothing till you finish the sonnets.
MATTHEW: Then fine. Fine. I’ll finish Countrie Matters myself.
MERRY: No you won’t. You’ll bang your head against the wall, pay for the wall's therapy, find a new masochistic wall to bang your head against, and never write a satisfying line of dialogue.
MATTHEW: Says you.

[Insert ten-day-long montage of Matthew banging his head against the wall, paying for the wall's therapy, finding a new masochistic wall to bang his head against, and never writing a satisfying line of dialogue.]

MATTHEW: Okay, okay -- I give up. I’ll finish those two love sonnets. Just give me a clue. Give me a clue about the Countrie Matters rewrite.
MERRY: It’s not working because it has to be about the romance. Which means rewriting the second half top to bottom.
MATTHEW: [Dawn breaks on Marblehead] Of course!
MERRY: After you finish the sonnets.
MATTHEW: Of course.
MERRY: And make notes for four more.
MATTHEW: Stop! Will you stop please?
MERRY: Never.

So here they are. And it looks like there will be four more.

MERRY: At least.
MATTHEW: Oh shut up.


And when I see couples entwined around
Each other’s arms--so warm and tightly held
That each heart vibrates with the other’s sound
And each one’s gaze is by the other spelled--
I picture you beside me, and I dream
Of your arm crooking mine--of our unfull
Hands folding tight together, till, like cream
In coffee, we become inseparable--
A whole that’s greater than our lonely pieces,
A double vessel only joy can fill,
A kiss that consummates as it releases,
A single heartbeat with a double will--
A love our lives will tender in the heart of
And never have to touch to be a part of.


You twine your arms in mine, making a warm
Cat’s cradle, and some hurt thing in me cracks
And melts, and suddenly a thunder storm
Howls where my heart was, striking like an axe
Against the root of all I fear, till crash
Goes my pride, crash goes logic. In despair,
I watch as all my fears drown in the flash
Flood of your touch. They flail. They gasp for air.
They scream for one more breath, and screaming die,
And all my comforting terrors are torn
Out of me like dead roots, dead weeds, till I
Am in your soft torrential arms reborn:
The child of fear beside his father’s grave,
Empty of all except a love that’s brave.

The first 4 in this series

Copyright 2010 Matthew J Wells

Rien ne va plus

Because Yvonne? I love you.

I'm flirting with Gene Tierney and Madeleine LeBeau at Rick's Americain, while LeBeau is filming her Casablanca scenes with Sasha the bartender and Tierney is looking gorgeously haughty and unapproachable. Madeleine and I have been dancing around each other for the entire film, but neither one of us has actually done anything, because I'm twice her age and she's married to Marcel Dalio, who got her out of France in '38 two steps ahead of the Nazis and is now the croupier at Rick's when he isn't the croupier at Mother Gin Sling's. But I'm used to the age thing and the marriage thing; as I tell her over martinis, "It's not going to stop me from feeling what I feel; it's just going to stop me from doing anything about it."

GENE TIERNEY: Why can't I ever meet a man who's not going to do anything about it?
ME: That bad, huh?
GENE TIERNEY: It's driving me crazy. [Downs martini in one gulp.]

So Sasha is saying "Because Yvonne? I love you," over and over again until Michael Curtiz is satisfied, and in the middle of the tenth take, this process server walks on-set and into the shot, handing Madeleine an official-looking document which turns out to be divorce papers. "It's from Marcel," she says. "I'm being divorced on grounds of desertion."

GENE TIERNEY: They all desert you in the end. [Downs martini in one gulp.]

Madeleine looks up from the papers and gives me This Look that says, "Well, there goes one obstacle." Then she smiles very prettily and leans in to whisper in my ear:

MADELEINE LEBEAU: Have I told you about my father fixation?

And I wake up approximately 90 minutes after my head hit the pillow, thinking to myself, "Why is it, the only time a woman ever says that to me is just before I wake up from a dream?"

THE VOICE OF GENE TIERNEY: Because even your dreams desert you in the end. [Downs 5 tranquilizers in one gulp.]

Friday, October 29, 2010

00:02:59 Night at The Living Room - October 20, 2010

Last Wednesday night, I went to the awesome 00:02:59 Records CMJ show at The Living Room, and watched a whole slate of great live bands from 7 PM till 2 in the morning. Here's a sample of the evening; check these bands out (and more) at the 00:02:59 website.

Steve Five:

Good Luck Mountain:

Dana Falconberry:

Jeff Klein of My Jerusalem:

Ian McLagan:

The Tellers:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sonnets Written While Watching The Yankees Lose To Texas

I sat at a sports bar and wrote six love sonnets (as opposed to Manhattan sonnets) while watching the Yankees lose to Texas Friday night. It was a productive nine innings. For me at least. Heh. Although two out of the six poems still need work, I scribbled notes for five more (there will be a total of seventeen)--and I probably would have completed those as well if I hadn't been actually paying attention to the game. I can hear you asking: "How can somebody write six sonnets and watch a baseball game in a crowd of yelling, cheering, cursing Yankee fans?"

ALL MY FRIENDS IN BOSTON: And why would you want to?

Guy sitting next to me? He pretty much asked the same thing.

GUY SITTING NEXT TO ME: What are you writing, can I ask?
ME: Sonnets.
GUY SITTING NEXT TO ME: You're kidding; this place is so loud I can't even think straight.
ME: And me? That's why I can think straight.

The only way I can explain it is that the creative part of my mind uses commotion and distraction as fuel, and by tuning out everything around me and starting to write, it's like punching the afterburner on a jet. The only difference is that the jet isn't talking to itself. And when I write in a crowd, I'm always talking to myself. Or, as in the four sonnets below, to someone so conveniently far away that only rhyme can bridge the distance:


If I were only younger and much taller
I’d sweep you up into my lanky arms
Until your lips were level with my collar
And kiss you till we set off fire alarms.
I’d use my youth to race you to be mine,
Sell everything I own and bet the farm,
And wait for you to reach the finish line
So we could cross together, arm in arm--
Then use my height to shoot up like a rocket
And grab a star of every different size
To make a necklace with a heart-filled locket
That might (just might) glimmer like your bright eyes
And make you see me as no mirrors do:
A man who’s tall and young enough for you.


“How do I look?” you ask-–that fatal phrase.
There’s no way I can answer that and live.
All I can do is meet your studied gaze
And say, with all the truth my heart can give:
“Like every goddess since the world began
Your smile can either kill or raise the dead,
Depending on your mood. No ruffian
Will ever master you. Upon your head
The crown of passion sits; upon your hips,
The sword you give your worthies. And when you
Unsheathe that blade and bring it to your lips,
God help the man who answers less than true.
Your every smile is like a valentine.
How do you look? Oh please--you look divine.”


Everything fades away--every true love
And false hope, every secret wish--all comes
To the same end: the short pier and the shove,
The scuttled lifeboat and the muffled drums.
But not my love for you. No matter what
Occurs, it will not kneel before Time’s cruel
Dominion--stars will fall and Life will shut
Down, but what I feel will not fade or cool,
Not even when I’m in my grave, because
This poem, forged out of my mortal yearning
Will do in death what your quick beauty does
To breathing men: leave strong hearts lost and burning.
And so unwithered will my words survive,
Keeping you and my love for you alive.


Clearly you’ll hurt me, but I say, “So what?”
I’ll think you kind no matter how you’re cruel
You tell me this will end in tears so hot
They’ll scald me to the bone. Heh. I say, “Cool.”
The thing is, dear, so what if Love’s croquet
And you’re the pretty mallet that will send me?
The way I figure it, one perfect day
With you is worth a dozen months that rend me.
So don’t use future pain as an excuse
To keep yourself from tasting present pleasure.
You think you’re going to hurt me? Silly goose.
I’ve got a threshold pain can’t even measure.
My heart’s an open book on True Love’s shelf:
I only bleed, love, when you hurt yourself.

Copyright 2010 Matthew J Wells

Tom Wrench's Wager

"If you're going to be ignored by the world, it might as well be for the stuff you want to do, rather than the stuff you think will get the world's attention."

-- from Tom Wrench, a play in progress by yours truly

Monday, October 18, 2010

Listen to The Manhattan Sonnets on Art International Radio

Back in July, I was part of a poetry reading at the Players Club sponsored by New River Dramatists, during which I read three poems from a series called The Manhattan Sonnets. Thanks to the support and interest of New River’s Artistic Director, MZ Ribalow, I was asked to record the first 21 sonnets for a radio show that New River is currently streaming on the Art International Radio website. That show is now up, so go listen to it and let me know how I did, because God knows I can’t listen to my own voice without hearing a duck with a Boston accent.

Here’s the link:

New River Dramatists on AIR

And while you’re at it, check out the other streams (in particular, if I can be biased, the New River Poets: Emerging Women broadcast, with the never-less-than-brilliant Patricia Randell) and come back every couple of weeks for new stories and poetry written and performed by the best in the business. For me, it’s an honor to be one of them.

Even if I do sound like a duck.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Double Farewell

To be read while listening to Hurts singing "Till you come back where you belong, It's just another lonely Sunday."


This little death of parting will not kill
The love we share, though it will make me bleed,
And all the bitter drops of blood that spill
Will skein my sorrow with the stain of need.
Without you, life is an abandoned house,
A hole that will become the heart of all.
Sadness will nibble at me like a mouse,
Forlornness drown me in a waterfall.
If I were walking in an empty room,
My footsteps would not echo half as loud
As they do in my city now, where gloom
Rules all, and I am lonely in a crowd,
Seeing your face in every face I see
And blind to all till you come back to me.


There is a part of me that you will take
With you whenever you’re apart from me:
A cutting from my heart that will not break
But branch into your own heart constantly.
If you should quake, it will not move an inch.
If you should fall, then it will give you wings.
If you should hesitate, it will not flinch.
If you should feel depressed, hear how it sings.
It’s yours to keep, no matter where you go
Or who you travel with--my stringless gift--
A quilt to warm you when you need a throw,
A compass pointing home when you’re adrift.
And if it blossoms and the fruit be true,
Give it away--as I gave mine to you.

Copyright 2010 Matthew J Wells

Monday, October 11, 2010

This one is for Eva

Manhattan Sonnet - 22

I watch you tug imaginary gloves
And tilt your head because you hate your chin,
And then play through the city’s rush and shoves
As if Manhattan were your violin.
Your tune is high and soaring, like your dreams:
The major theme of one great symphony
That will resolve the concrete with the seems
Into a concord of true harmony.
And as you play, I note just how composed
You are, how all the strain falls from your eyes,
And how, beneath your cat-mouth, is exposed
A smile born out of passion and surprise
Because, in these harsh streets, you’ve finally met
A mate to mate with in a choice duet.

Copyright 2010 Matthew J Wells