Because I could not stop


I suppose I’ve spent so much time dwelling on elegy because it’s a form of poetry written to someone who isn’t there. That’s a situation I’m feeling increasingly comfortable with. I write most of the things I write here to someone who isn’t there. I know there are people out there that read this, but they’re odd bits of broken image to me, a piece here, a piece there, and only fragments of connection. People are complicated; I suspect it’s largely because we ride the same horse that there is a connection at all. Is there something to be said, something that’s been learned, something that we all should know? Perhaps in the end it’s just to say that we should remember to talk and listen to each other, because the ride doesn’t go on for long.

I love the way that Ginsberg turns the corner into the narrative part of his “Kaddish” near the end of the proem:

Now I’ve got to cut through— to talk to you— as I didn’t when you had a mouth.
Forever. And we’re bound for that, Forever — like Emily Dickinson’s horses
—headed to the End.
They know the way— These Steeds— run faster than we think— it’s our own
life they cross— and take with them.

Sometimes poetry seems like and endless hall of mirrors, where you have to know your way around before things start to make sense. There was a time I knew Patti Smith’s Horses far better than Dickinson’s. It wasn’t that long ago. And still, they don’t seem that far apart. I suppose part of me still prefers Patti Smith’s Horses, because they rock in the most sexual of ways. But they’re headed the same place as Dickinson’s:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

Death & Horses & Loss— boy, I’m in such a damn cheerful mood today. I hope the coach pulls out of the graveyard soon! Some kinds of death are better than others.

In the sheets
there was a man
dancing around
to the simple
Rock & roll