Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Devil Drives

We were just mentioning poetry on the Joan Crawford message board, and I remembered this poem I'd written for her, back in the mid-'80s. I believe it was THE first poem I turned in for my very first poetry workshop, with David Wevill at UT.

I remember being scared to death for people to see it. When I wrote it, I felt that I was channeling her, and it somehow seemed too intimate to share.

Re-reading it now: I was a BABY when I wrote this, 21 or 22... A kid writing like this! (From ages 11 to 22... a lot of misery, but also a lot of extreme heights and approbation... I feed off of that period of time to this day.)


DEVIL DRIVES
(for Joan Crawford)

The darkness drives me far from where I must be
my knuckles bare in bone-white urgency
clutching the late-night moonlit wheel
that turns, without swerving toward mercy

Roadside
the sweat-stained fools of late
sip their beer and bet on
who I might be

Such things I cannot flee:
the vortex forcing me
toward life without lights,
my name on each marquee...

This haunted sky, the moon
I will outlast

Just ask the garden that once bloomed upright
near my back door, cut by my cold hand
and carted away in night's deadness
by babies oblivious to the pain of thorns

Ask it what prevails, the bloom or bane
of shears and let the silence be your reply, something
to live with, or not.

Bloody, I await what budding may arise,
fulfilled by a fury purely mine.

That is enough.

There is no leaving me.

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