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     The Blue Guitar

       Lenny Everson
The Blue Guitar
The Blue Guitar
By Lenny Everson
rev 1
Copyright Lenny Everson 2017
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Cover design by Lenny Everson
About this time, you might be wondering, "Didn't somebody already do a poem about a blue guitar?"
Yes, indeed. Mr. Wallace Stevens published a poem called, "The Man With the Blue Guitar" in 1937. It has thirty-three long sections ("cantos") about art, performance, and imagination.
My wife, Dianne, always remembered a couple of lines of the Stevens poem:
Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.
I'm not saying my blue guitar poem is better, but at least the lyrics, for the most part, can be played on a guitar. Even a blue guitar. Far more suitable for drunks. The stanzas come out as something somewhere between the Stevens' poem and Dylan's "Desolation Row."
The intention that the lyrics be singable has led to most of them being subject to the rhythm and rhyme schemes that make them suitable as songs. (Try doing that with Stevens' poem!) There are a thousand tunes you can used for most these stanzas, from "Chili Parlor Bar" and "Desolation Row", to "Home on the Range" and "Botany Bay."
Generally, the rhymed verses are in groups of three stanzas. The first stanza defines the subject. The second includes musical words (chord, key, etc.). The third ends (or at least includes) the words “Blue Guitar”, or some equivalent. This is a general, not a hard-and-fast rule.
The poems talk about "a" blue guitar, not "the" blue guitar. Blue guitars are, in this work, associated with change of some sort, positive or negative. The entire poem is a series of short segments; they are not particularly related to each other.
And, in the end
The music of the universe, you know
Is found in tones and stars
The power of a cosmic song
On an infinite blue guitar
A poet's reality’s sleuth
Poking an aching tooth
Ember and fire, the poet’s a liar
Who always speaks the truth
Feel free to dream the impossible dream
Though each page, your hearse
We’ll remember you guys with crazy eyes
On the road from bitter to verse
Yelling “ things as they are
Will damn well get changed
Upon somebody’s blue guitar!”
Please, on my blue guitar
Sunset and evening star
At The Poet’s Retreat
Tennyson drunk at the bar
Finally admitting defeat
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
Feeling the touch of frost
A poet reduced to Christmas carols
Feeling somewhat lost
I give you the tears of sonnets past
Beyond a bridge too far
And all that breaks the silence now
Is Hansel’s blue guitar
After pigs have spread their wings
One little truth be known
It’s easier to be mad with the other lads
Than to be sane alone
Those two roads, that yellow wood;
In a moment, your life is changed
To the coda of falling leaves
All is rearranged
Let me tell of Heaven, now
The door is still ajar
I know, for now I hear
Faintly, that blue guitar
Oh, I think, when I've doe my route
I am, I am, at best
If someone were to puzzle it out
A leaf, not yet at rest
Clouds are gambling with the day
As I set pack by tree
On a hilltop, grasses sway
And winds sing songs to me
The trail is never twice the same
This year is not the last
A blue guitar may change tomorrow
But it lets me keep the past
To the edges of drown and sing
That’s what a canoe is for
And on a cold November day
I’m paddling once more
To the edges of drown and sing
That’s what life is, too
To laugh at icy waters with
A guitar in my canoe
Scudding clouds are chords on
A freezing winter sky
Paddle against the icy winds
To live is not to die.
Summer light in afternoon
Dazzles on the lake
Shattered by my paddling
There are diamonds in my wake
The small bow waves of my canoe
Scatter sunlight. then
Light comes back on the portage
Through leaves, to me again
And when the sun goes down
I make a little flame
And playing a tune on my blue guitar
I add moonlight to my name
The world is a madhouse, she told me one day
Inhabited mostly by clowns.
They whisper together but talk about weather
When the Big Guy is doing his rounds
There’s a secret way out,” they tell each other
So be strong and brave until then.
They talk of a key and how one day they’ll be
Dancing on the streets once again.
They grow old, these clown-faced men
Hearing strange chords from afar
And scratching their balls, they wander the halls
Seeking that lost Blue guitar
Come to me in the night, sometime
When only old men are awake
Come to me when even fish sit silent
In the deepest part of the lake.
We’ll play banshee songs on a saw
And laugh in the face of the moon
We’ll conspire, laughing by fire
With another renegade loon.
The darking clouds that rise in the west
The fall of some lonely star
Are the chorus of night, darkness and night,
An indigo guitar.
Computers someday, with think like us
Or so someone said
But the danger is real that someday we’ll
Think like computers instead
Charlie says when someone asks
Just where the heck he’s been
About five years ago he got
Absorbed into the screen
He travelled down the furthest string
From here to Zanzibar
Was nothing, then everything
And became the Blue guitar
Civilization advances, I’d like to say
Year by year, day by day
In every war when finally you’re
Killed in a brand-new way
Long after the boom when the rest are dead
And you’ve finally begun to hope
In the breeze you’re brought to your knees
By some unseen isotope
Then some ancient ghost stands over you
Whispers, “au revoir”
Laughs and plays your eulogy
On a plutonium blue guitar.
I struggled up the Jesus hill
Fearing there might be changes
God tries to keep things as they are
The devil, rearranges
I tell ya, Murphy’s other law:
Anything that can change, will
As, to the sound of distant strings
We climb Golgotha hill
It’s not done by constellations
Not even falling stars
Devils do it every day
Playing blue guitars
The measured heart of the planet beats
Yesterday’s loving tomorrow
Though time is a tide that never retreats
Ashes, ashes, and sorrow
The moving finger writes once more
And having written my name
Laughs, whistles, and laughs again
Levels, the gun, and takes aim
Oh, the last glowing candle’s lit
At the setting of the sun
And the blue guitar plays once again
Because the changin’s done
We cling to the known but to our sorrow
Someone’s strumming on blue strings
We cherish the known but in Brazil
A butterfly’s flapping its wings
Somebody’s playing a changing tune
That consumes both moth and flame
And I wonder, yes I fear
That I’m part of someone’s game
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealin’s done
A new tune on the old guitar
Ah, the setting of the sun
I’ve done my time at my desk
Pretending to be me
I am in truth on river bends
Fierce and fine and free
A flash of paddle on the lake
A dancer on the creeks
In May the old men call my name
But only distance speaks
I pledge my love to water now
My soul to the morning star
And my life to the music on
A shining blue guitar.
**** END ****
(well, or part one, anyway....)
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