Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Villain

27 March 2007, 1:27 PM

Time cannot be rushed- no,
he's a stodgy old Villain in a checked
cabbie hat, limping along the beat
and beating the hell out of Patience.
But no one can call him- the shots
are his, and cannot be coaxed
from the complacent pistol at his side.

Does he ever find reason to shoot
from the hip? Has he always been
so compulsively chronological?

I wonder, does the old man ever
skip light along the beat instead of faking
a bum leg and holding up the line
of weary travelers so ready to rest
aboard the train, made to stand
out in the rain- the cold, Spring rain,
because it isn't Summer yet,
and Time won't bend to spend his warmth
on teardrops falling from the melting sky.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bus 567 and the Universality of American Pie

16 March 2007, 8:57 AM

There are some songs, some books, some poetry and art that span time. They touch something universal in us- who knows how?- but they do, and years after their relevance should have worn thin, even died, they still tug at us, still make us laugh or weep, still make us dance, still make us talk their subject matter around in circles and into the ground.

I tested this theory today in the most hostile of environments- I brought a collection of songs that hold true to this idea, in my world anyway, onto Bus 567 and played it while I picked up my middle school/ high school students. There’s something sacred about music in the world of high school students. Don’t mess with their rap, their country or their crap. They’ll let you know in a heartbeat if they don’t approve, and they’ll mock you openly if they find your taste outdated or unpalatable in any way. So I was quite surprised when they heard the music I’d brought with me today, and no one said a word.

I took this as a sign that there was at least some level of general approval, and though it was officially “country day”, I didn’t turn on the country station. If they’d asked me to, I would have, and they know that. But no one ever did. Maybe because they saw me singing along. Maybe because they wondered what music this was. Maybe because they liked it. Or maybe because they were afraid to ask. That is a distinct possibility. They do, at times, fear me.

I did notice that no one was singing along.

And how could they? These songs are not the music of their hearts. The music of their hearts lies somewhere between the Dixie Chicks and Snoop Dog. I’d really like to believe that Snoop is not the music of anyone’s heart, but I know I yearn in vain.

So I began to lose hope as the CD progressed, from Dan Fogelberg to the Eagles to Billy Joel and on to James Taylor and Don Henley, even Mac Davis. I was counting on these men (didn’t realize there weren’t any women on this CD…) to speak to my kids- counting on them to communicate between my generation and theirs, to draw them out and make them wonder if there might be something in the world outside of their pirate headbands and pants hanging down to their knees. But it was obviously not happening. They respected my music, but it didn’t speak to them- didn’t sing to their hearts, didn’t move them to tap a toe (does anyone tap their toes anymore?), didn’t make them want to sing along.

But I’d forgotten about Mr. McLean.

I’d just about given up hope. I mean, when songs like “Hotel California” and “Fire and Rain” fail to elicit any response whatsoever, a generation is officially dead, right? There’s nothing more beyond that.

I’m in the final inning, down by 2 [hundred], the bases are loaded, and Don McLean steps up to bat with “American Pie”. Home run, I tell you. Home run. Who knew that almost every student on a bus in the middle of nowhere Kentucky would know the words to a song that outdates them by roughly 30 years? But they did. Mind you, they didn’t know all the words- even people who were alive and kicking when the song came out usually don’t know all the words. ***Quick aside: I was barely alive when the song came out, but I DO know all the words to “American Pie”, I fancy that I understand what Mr. McLean was attempting to communicate, and I think it’s a brilliant song, even thirty years after the fact. The man was a genius.*** Back to the point- they didn’t know all the words, but almost every student on my bus could and did sing along with the chorus, and I could tell they were fiddling with the verses as well.

I dropped off my high schoolers, and while I was sitting there waiting for the buses to get moving, one of my middle schoolers, one of the two or three who had not been singing along, came forward. “I have a question, Ms. Busdriver…” Some of them call me “Ms. Busdriver” no matter how many times I tell them my name. “When this song is over, will you turn on the country station?” I thought for a moment. “So you like this song, then?” … “It’s weird, but it’s kinda nice.”

Well. High praise from a 14 year old middleschooler. Way to go, Mr. McLean. You’re still speaking, even after 30 years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


14 MARCH 2007, 12:48 PM

There's a tree outside
my window- it's beginning to bud,
and I know that Spring has come,
or will before the bitter cold kills
everything that's left of me
this side of Wintertime.

This side of Wintertime,
dead branches evince
hard-lost battles, but warmth renews
even the oldest, most scarred sentinel
in the gravel parking lot; redeems
what most would call an eye-sore,
where I see myself, and you, and all
these things for which I've sought
a home. There's life in those branches
still, even the ones bereft of sap,
for they tell the story of how and where
and when and why you turned my head;
caught my eye in such a way
that I could want you to come into my life
in such a way that we could find the path
to wholeness once again,
or for the first time
this side of Wintertime.


14 March 2007, 10:32 AM

There's something big and beautiful
and green and natural and so very real
about my African- I find him true,
more tangible than any color, taste or scent
heretofore discovered by my senses;
green- the shade of misty Kenyan
mountains in the morning;
intoxicating- a scent that pours
from acres of drying leaves, overwhelms
even only ever in my mind;
bright- the sound of Kerichans singing
in black trenchcoats and flashes of happy
colors underneath, all blended and blissful,
flying in the wind and rain.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Wait for Me II

Another Emesis
11 March 2007, 1 AM

You’ve become familiar with the phrase-
(I wonder if you look for it)

wait for me;

discovered how much better it can be
when we arrive at the point-
whatever purpose we’ve purposed to fulfill,
whatever discovery we’ve set out to discover-


I realize, none-too-soon, how similar
are all things between us- that it matters
how and when and where we each arrive
at whatever paradise upon which we set our eyes.

No joy would be Heaven without you,
and I begin to believe the same is true
if you arrive before I do.

So you wait for me,

and I begin to believe you are content to sit
beside me where I’ve stumbled, allow me
to learn that you can love and want rightly,
wipe my brow, kiss tenderly the cheek wet
with tears you had no hand in wringing
from a heart so grieved and heavy-laden.

You wait for me

to gain strength and stand; walk again,
no longer alone in this wounding shame,
and persevering despite the same.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Grieving with Strangers

The griefs of others have a way of tapping our own. And I don't think it odd that we need not even know the ones who are grieving- it's a universal experience, and one only need share humanity to partake in the wounds of another.

Abigail Beatrix Yandell
Memory Eternal

George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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