Wednesday, September 29, 2004

By request

Never let it be said I don't seek to please. Josh Hanson, whose blog at is always a smart read, asked if "Elegy for Gram Parsons" is out there in the world. And it is. In the latest issue of LitRag, a cool mag out of Seattle. As it's not widely available, here's the poem:


Dead in the seedy shag box of a squalid motel,
suffused with cheap liquor, half-fuel,
his body was stolen back, doused in idiot flame
in the alkaline heaven of the desert.
God grant me friends that fevered, I think
tonight, listening again to his handful of songs—
but let me outlive them. He deserves
better than my voice, unable to rise
to the crazed burr of the fiddle, so high
it seems the sky is sublimated, is made dark
music, is all ache ever. Once, in the road I found
a turtle crushed, its shell antique
and mortal. It ghosted my mind for days with grief.
And once, a woman touched me
and trapped me where we were in the sun,
and said I was beautiful, could she pray for me—
and all I could say was yes. Anything
to hurry time. Anything to slink away.
I can’t bear this speeded world—
to almost everything it seems I’ve come late.
I began this thinking of a singer
I loved, but somewhere he fell away and made of this
a double elegy, dying twice. And all
I can think of now is the monstrous sunflower that leaned
against your house. From the road,
I could see it. In those days, in that town
I left you in, the pain would fade
when you could stay no longer—
my heart thudded like a mallet.
I should stop using the word heart
to describe anything. I can’t help it,
at least not tonight, so it must be endured.
Isn’t that a kind of wisdom, worth so much twilight?
Dear forbearance, you matter:
let no one tell you different and while I live, never die.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Paul. It's wonderful.

I'm a big fan of Parsons. Well, of his work anyway. You know, marc Olsen and Victoria Williams are out in Joshua Tree now, feelin' the vibes, I guess. And making great music.

Have you read "Are you ready for the Country?" It tries to cover more ground than it should, probably, but spends lengthy portions on both Dylan's contribution to "country rock" a la John Wesley Harding and, of course, Nashville skyline, and the whole phenomenon that was Graham Parsons. A good read.


Paul said...

I love Gram too. I first began listening to him in Carbondale. There was a great record store there, that I still miss, where this sort of music was always playing. Of course, this was also Uncle Tupelo's backyard, so it was in the air.