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?
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