the story starts with my decline and fall

(Lines 1—40)

God (as I choose to call my higher power)
Grant me an audience for half an hour
And I will, if I can, do all the rest.
My subject is the story I know best;
I mean my own. It starts in a motel,
The night of my divorce. I felt like Hell.

Think of a pilot, learning how to fly,
Who, though he should know better, flies too high,
Then falls in the Atlantic and is drowned.
His body and the plane are never found.
There’s something like our marriage in that story,
The way it shoots to misery from glory.
The similarity might not be strong,
But, as to suffering, I’m never wrong:
Divorce is brutal. Trust me when I say
I’d rather be that pilot any day.

Lisa, in a voice that tore my heart,
Had told me, “From now on, we’ll live apart.
I’ll keep your stuff till you’ve got your new place.
The First Street house is mine. I want my space.”
And so, a stranger in my own home town,
I left my room to have a look around.

Across the street, a Big Red liquor store
And Waffle House. A porno shop next door.
“The restaurant then. For now, I’ll do what’s right.
I’ve got no strength for sex and drugs tonight.”
The waitress, call her Ruby, perked me up.
I never saw the bottom of my cup.
A refill and a smile, and off she’d glide;
She wore her sixty years with grace and pride.

“Why look upon myself and curse my fate:
I couldn’t stand to only serve and wait.
I’ll bet that woman’s life is harder still
Than mine, by far. And, if I only will,
I could throw all my misery away
And love my life the way it is today!”

If that was true—and I don’t think it was—
I proved myself an awful fool, because
For years I didn’t love my life at all.
The story starts with my decline and fall.

  1. vlorbik

    now it can be told.
    in the first line, the poet has
    *invoked his muse*… just like
    the bigboys in the grownup league.

    extra credit for mentioning g-d:
    people *will* go on and on about
    that word and others like it; why
    deny the obvious child.

    the beats fall in what for me is a very pleasing way.
    poetry is seven-eights scansion or thereabouts…
    or so i feel at this moment. you’ve got to do a little
    wiggle at the very front here to get everything to fit
    but then it flows pretty much effortlessly.

    obviously… but maybe not obviously *enough*…
    the words “higher power” invoke Bill W and AA
    and all of That.

    the point here will have been to call down echoes
    of *as much well-known stuff as possible*. that,
    if you will, is what this song is “about”.

    the rest, for now, remains an exercise for the reader.

  2. one should mention the title.

    for “eights” read “eighths”.
    our work is finished here.

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