Thursday, August 13, 2009

Et All

I don’t remember asking for
a poor man’s life
of labor or
ever being offered
any other numbered door.

The world can shift into reverse
and purest things
become perverse -
I suppose,
all things considered,
something always could be worse.

If I don’t work then I don’t eat
my shoes are falling
off my feet
sick of rice and beans
but can’t afford the price of meat.

No shackles ever bound my wrist
I don’t have
an oncologist -
I suppose,
all things considered,
I’ve been fairly fortune-kissed.

Sinking deeper into debt
piling up
some more regret -
fair to say I can’t complain
but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

Hurling through the atmosphere
the astronauts
drink freeze dried beer –
I suppose,
all things considered,
that I’m better off down here.


Catvibe said...

A song for the common man (or woman...). I'm glad I don't have to drink freeze dried beer, although I think I wouldn't mind having some of that view from up there! At least for a moment or two, then, yeah, this is a good place to be and many of us are pretty darned blessed. Not rich in money, but rich in so much. Ahhhh... Thanks JC. I needed that today.

Karen said...

"The world can shift into reverse
and purest things
become perverse -
I suppose,
all things considered,
something always could be worse."

In King Lear, one of the characters says to himself in an aside:
And worse I may be yet. The worst is not/So long as we can say "This is the worst."

That's always stuck with me. Things can be awful, but as long as we have the ability to even say so, it can't be the "the worst." Unfortunately, I don't think I believe that, even though I tell it to myself. Just like the speaker in your poem, I think I'm trying to convince myself. Like the little "train that could", telling ourselves "I think I can" over and over sometimes gets us through. One of my good friends always says, "Fake it till you make it." I think that's your message here, too.

I love the title and the way you make me think about this. Sorry for all the quotes from others, but apparently, your universal theme has inspired many of these thoughts in many thinkers, great and small. Et all!

"The world can shift into reverse
and purest things
become perverse -
I suppose,
all things considered,
something always could be worse." -- Love it, Joaquin!

Sarah Hina said...

I suppose, All things considered--again, I love your use of repetition. I sense that he feels the truth from that angel on his shoulder, while also feeling somewhat restless and resentful that he must acknowledge it. It's always easier to see what we lack than what we have, especially in such dire straits. But I love that he's struggling to shape his perspective.

In other words, what Karen said. ;)

I love the stanza she picked out best, too. There's something especially gut-twisting about the soiling of our purest aspirations.

Aniket said...

All things considered, I am glad you are here. Wouldn't like it any other way! :D

Though I still keep on singing: 'Take me to the Paradise city, where the grass is green and girls are pretty!'

Mairi said...

When I was a child we had an album, constantly played, of Andy Stewart's take on your poem. It was often quoted about the house.
"Nae sae bad, that's what they say,
Nae sae bad, every day,
It's never not so good it's not so bad....
It won't cause a great sensation but sums up the situation
For no matter what it is, it's nae sae bad!"
As Karen said, It's a universal theme, and a nice take on it. An optimist's take. Even the rhymes and the rythm of it say nae to the pessimist's point of view.

Anonymous said...

"the purest things become perverse" -oh so very true, pride mixed with purity equals perversity -

contentment the largest lesson here along with thankfulness --

Vesper said...

I love the rhythm of this poem. It conveys its truth in an almost playful way that fits perfectly the philosophy behind it.

Julie said...

Have you been reading my journal? Ha! Ha! Those first two stanzas are my world. I love the way the speaker begins with a bit of "attitude," which is what people like me usually have:) But in the second verse, the speaker realizes that it could be worse.

That's a constant dialogue I have with myself. I really am very fortunate. Hell, I even went to dah skools for free! You are right. Still, like the narrator of the poem, I grapple with the emotions. And like the narrator, I come to the conclusion that I'm "better off down here." I love the double meaning in that line.

Awesome poem, Joaquin. This is a very timely piece, too. It can apply to now or to any age. As always, you hit me in the gut. As always, I can relate to what you're writing about. Either I'm going through it or I have known someone who has, etc.

I love the soul in your work. The human element. The heartbeat. It is real.

joaquin carvel said...

cat - you're right - always pros and cons - i'm glad it found you in the right spot. :)

karen - i guess it isn't earth shattering, but i think you're right -it is pretty universal. thank you - i actually like the quotes a lot - if it's good enough for billy shakes, it's good enough for me!

sarah - thank you - i think it usually feels like just a tug-o-war, but like you point out, it's (hopefully) a process too.

aniket - back atcha! thank you -and, if you'll excuse me, i need to kick out some old school g&r now...

mari - hi! thanks for dropping in and for the lyric - i don't think i really realized (until after i posted) how this is probably just another version of dozens (hundreds?) of songs /stories - but i guess if they can write that many, there must be something to 'em. (not that i can't be pessimistic at times - but i prefer not to lodge there.)

soulintention - yes, thankfulness - even when one resents it a little - helps even the keel, i think. thank you for that. ("pride mixed with purity equals perversity" - wow!)

vesper - thank you - i guess one can't get too serious when one is arguing with oneself.

julie - only a little here & there ;) i'm glad i'm not the only one who ping-pongs through this dialouge - but at the end of the day, it seems there is always more to be grateful for than to grumble about. thank you for being a consistent part of the former.

don't be emily said...

Hey, life can't be that bad if we're not drinking freeze dried beer, right!?!? lol. Great humor.

Jannie Funster said...

Freeze dried beer? Hey, any beer is good beer. Just add water?

Jannie Funster said...

Oh and rice and beans can be a feast. You might fart like a bastard but protein is protein.