Thursday, November 17, 2016

An inaugural snow job and poet?

The yard is full of juncos, just in time for tomorrow's snow storm. I think it's time to swap out the hummingbird/woodpecker nectar for a tray feeder, after the snow stops falling. A package of suet is sitting thawing on the kitchen counter. The woodpeckers, especially the pileated that visits almost daily, have pretty well hammered the first batch into shreds.

pileated woodpecker at suet
pileated woodpecker at suet
Photo by J. Harrington

Today's sky looks pensive and brooding, which fits with the forecast. I've been feeling mostly that way myself ever since Tuesday of last week. In an effort to cheer myself up by making a small contribution to the upcoming festivities, when the president-elect becomes the President, I've been contemplating which poet might be appropriate to create an inauguration poem. My first thought was Allen Ginsberg. After all, he wrote the very timely poem America. Unfortunately, since Allen has passed on, it occurred to me that Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published Ginsberg's Howl, might be able to do the reading. Even better, he could read his own work, I Am Waiting, which seems like it might be a near perfect fit.

The more I thought about it, the more concerned I became that Ferlinghetti's age could be an impediment to travel, and I doubted that the president-elect would want to move the inauguration to San Francisco just to accommodate a poet. Then, the Muse came to my rescue with the name of a poet who would probably be a much better fit with the new Washington swamp drainers. Charles Bukowski was a blue collar, working man's poet if ever there was one. In light of the age of the president-elect, and the stress and rigors of his upcoming job, something along the lines of Bukowsk's 1990 special might be appropriate. Alas, the Muse seemed to have overlooked the fact that Bukowski is now enjoying that great race track in the sky. I could think of no one fitting to read a Bukowski ode and so returned to mentally working my rolodex.

Who, who, who could poetically "Make America Great Again?" But, of course, this year's Nobel Laureate in Literature, Hibbing's own Bobby Zimmerman. In fact, his canonical hit Ballad of a Thin Man nicely themes with newcomers to inside the Beltway. What do you think? Would it work? He's too busy for Sweden, but if his country needs him?



Ballad Of A Thin Man


Written by: Bob Dylan


You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You raise up your head
And you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says
“It’s his”
And you say, “What’s mine?”
And somebody else says, “Where what is?”
And you say, “Oh my God
Am I here all alone?”

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, “How does it feel
To be such a freak?”
And you say, “Impossible”
As he hands you a bone

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You have many contacts
Among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect
Anyway they already expect you
To just give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations

You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You’ve been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
You’re very well read
It’s well known

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, “Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan”

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word “NOW”
And you say, “For what reason?”
And he says, “How?”
And you say, “What does this mean?”
And he screams back, “You’re a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home”

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, you walk into the room
Like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin’ around
You should be made
To wear earphones

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?



Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music


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