Total Pageviews

Sunday, 18 October 2020

And I Love Typewriters, Too


By Mark Mordue

America, I love you:
you’re Peggy Lipton in Mod Squad,
you’re Patti Smith in the ‘Piss Factory’,
you’re Cary Grant and Sidney Poitier,
Arsenic and Old Lace
and the Lilies of the Field,
my grandmother and I
watching you on the television,
laughing and finding holiness
and beauty in a prayer.
You’re the fast talk and fists
of Muhammad Ali,
all the heavyweight boxers
of the twentieth century
whose names and stories
I knew by heart,
so heroic and broken down.
You’re the poems of Gil Scott-Heron
and Robert Lowell and Charles Bukowski,
each man singing of his street,
the junkie twilight, the Nantucket graveyard,
the booze and unripe corn.
You’re New York in winter 1999,
a very light snow falling
on Christmas morning
that I taste on my tongue,
above me a billboard
with Jackson Pollock
drip painting
as if he were lunging from the sky
to flicker me with white enamel
using only a stick
and the cosmic weight of history -
‘The MOMA Exhibition’.
You’re Carson McCullers
and the story of a girl growing up,
you’re Robert Kennedy’s blood
and the panic of a crowd,
you’re the first time I saw a man
ever get killed for real
sitting as a child, cross-legged
on the lounge-room floor,
getting it in the eyes, live.
You’re Apollo 11 and a flag
and skipping on the moon,
you’re The Doors
loud on the turntable
grooving for peace and murder
on the sex of a Saturday afternoon.
You’re the Vietnam I grew up on
like some form of malaria
that got in my dreams
and left me with
apocalypse-now eyes.
You’re Nirvana inspiring,
a band like friends I knew
that somehow got
to the top of the world
and reversed their way
In Utero
into shotgun garage seclusions.
You’re Bewitched and Happy Days,
you ARE my childhood smiling.
You’re Tom Waits talking for me
in a telephone interview
about Swordfish and Trombones,
you’re Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man
floating out to die
in a burning canoe
like I would wish to do.
You’re Bob Dylan
tangled up in blue,
longing to be young
and being young
teaching me how to dream.
America, I love you,
you’re so much of everything
that is me and my world.
And now the man at Rushmore
with a stone in his soul
and gold for skin
is taking you down
into the valley of guns
where God and democracy die.
It is the climax of the movie,
violent and complex and unsure,
with high buildings
and clouds pursuing,
and an escape through
the fierce and strange mess
of a John Ford film,
the red sandstone
where God shaped the West
into great sublime beings
watching you make it through
into the arms of Katherine Hepburn
and Cormac McCarthy,
your stern but loving parents
who cut time up into quarters
like an orange
and tell you to suck on it,
taste it, sweet and sour,
the juice from California,
the orange as spiritual
and absolute and full
of peace and struggle
as a Mark Rothko painting.
Don’t kill yourself America.
Don’t go mad.
Don’t lose faith
in your art.
I’m putting on a Joni Mitchell record,
Hejira, following
the difficult journey she made,
and I am once again
light and heavy,
wishing I were
like that coyote Sam Shepard,
floating on a bass line
to walk the girders
of the Manhattan skyline
with little Indian kids,
believing forever
in your poetry and love.


Johnpyyc said...

Good Morning Robert:

Fantastic. Surprisingly, you had me in tears.


Bill M said...

Great post Robert! Wonderful photos.

Richard P said...

This made for a great combination of words and images. Here's hoping the country will retreat from madness soon.

The Philosophy Teacher said...

Nice to see a non-American acknowledging his cultural debts to the USA, despite the lows to which we've sunk. We've got ours too--Judy Davis, Patrick White, Bruce Beresford... See you on the other side of this thing, fingers crossed.

PS Leo McKern