This poem was written for my first love, America, because she broke my heart.
The Great American Novel
The Great American Novel
Sitting at table.
I’m thinking that I’s stranded in a sea of somethin’ . . .
(I’m falling into a pool of white.
What is a pool of white anyway?
It’s got to be something important.
THE DREAM BEGINS
I’ve been here before.
I know that much.
The lectern is strong and true.
My hands grip it tightly.
I, surprised to see this, am in mid-sentence, already talking.
You’re the only one here.
THE DREAMER’S SPEECH
. . . And that’s what I or you or me or whatever it seemed to be was always saying anyway.
It’s good you finally took the time to listen to
the rhymes, and everything else that went on before in that time before times.
But now I want to know something.
(your gaze twitches. I speak more forcefully.)
You owe me that much.
(You settle back into your chair)
How does it happen?
How did it before?
Do we know the words at all?
Or have we always made them up as we went along?
(will you follow me with this, or will I lose you here? It might be a bit much, but it must be said.)
Are our paintings just eyesores floating along dead-end boulevards begging for a touch of the sweet hand of Mary-Jane as she stands outstretched towards the endless trance, watching as we dance the dance of those who have no hope?
THE DREAMER PAUSES AND BLINKS
All the same, it happens every time.
It never ceases
I never pretended to understand.
Why won’t you believe me?
I would never lie to you, though you’ve treated me so unkindly.
Or was that a result of those who stand as keeper of your torch
and guardian of your flame?
I don’t know.
Those . . . people have made a mockery of who you wanted to be,
The best of all your hopes and dreams.
I look at you and weep at what might have been.
It isn’t hard. Fooling yourself is simple.
You’ve done it all along.
You haven’t had the right to do half of the things that you have up till now.
But you thought you did.
You started to believe it as the trial dragged on and on.
“Look at me. I am mighty. I answer to no one,” you said
Your upturned hangman’s eyes haughty at the promise of what you thought you deserved.
But you didn’t.
THE DREAMER FALLS ASLEEP
So now I turn to you and speak softly,
Hoping that you’ll be quiet long enough
(I know that your mind has been racing up till now.
I don’t know if you heard anything before.)
to listen to the voice
Of someone that really loved you, way back when.
“There’s an ache inside that messes me up,
And I don’t know what to make of it,”
I say quietly when I think you are really listening.
Are you listening?
THE DREAMER WAKES
What’s going on . . . (rubs eyes)
Where did you go? I was almost there too,
about to say what you needed to hear most.
But you’re gone now.
You were never here at all, were you?
(I am always within you, and you are always around me.)
I rise from my chair, and stand in the center of the floor.
I will finish my speech.
You need to hear it.
And I need to say it.
Dear, I think you’ve broken my heart, despite yourself.
If only you’d listened to your heart all along,
Maybe you wouldn’t be in this mess.
If you even had a heart to begin with. I don’t think you do.
They’ve taken everything, haven’t they?
(It’s time to finish what I started. I can‘t wait any longer.)
THE DREAMER GETS UP
So, there’s just one thing left to do.
It’s time to write the great American novel.
I get my pen, my paper too
Sit at the table and think of you
Put my hands upon the page and think about the story
I’m about to make
Then quietly, without a smirk
Or trace of sarcastic irk
I write two lines on the glowing white.
“We stole it all. It wasn’t right.”