In the Rear View Mirror, Now

Song Cycle by Mark Abel (b. 1948)

Word count: 601

1. The Long Goodbye [sung text checked 1 time]

You have exhausted me.
Sad half-truths, empty promises, 
blind alleys and vague shades of meaning; 
all shafts, now, of a fading light.
Its impression will soon dissolve
as late afternoon merges with the stucco plane
framing your Mona Lisa face.

I tried to understand, to probe;
shielded you from life’s storms,
given the doubt’s benefit.
For me, no gem could dazzle more.
But you will not meet me halfway,
can never meet me there.
You’ve too many stories to keep straight!

“She’s not going to change,” the analyst said,
wishing she was allowed to scream.
And, yes, I heard quite clearly 
but couldn’t do what should have been done.
I loved you too much. That is the whole truth.
Our flame could not be extinguished,
but I wish it had. It has burned us both.

Blame is ugly. I tried to stand away
but now must ask: “Why did you not let me go?
Our love was too far a reach for you,
and you knew it 
from the breathless start,
that rainy night in the pub down by the tracks.”

The cost was far more steep than you imagine.
Go. Go ahead! Cover your ears!

To forgive is divine, the poet wrote.
I am far from divine, but I will someday 
-- on the day you say you are sorry.

Authorship

  • by Mark Abel (b. 1948), "The Long Goodbye", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor] , Mark Abel

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

2. The World Clock [sung text checked 1 time]

My iPhone’s World Clock is set to “Los Angeles” now,
though I don’t live there.
It will never read “San Francisco” again. 

“The City” -- some still like to call it --
is no longer the same place. Must I explain?

Lost in time, the ghosts of North Beach,
the Haight, Chinatown, the Western Addition.
Their stories, the park, the fog’s spell 
as it toys with the Richmond, the Sunset, Fort Point
-- where Jimmy Stewart pulled Kim Novak
from the water. All love is a mystery.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.
The timeline ruptured. The fog lost its drama.
A world has vanished. 

Black people -- remember them?
-- priced out decades ago;
artists, writers and musicians too.
Now kids tweak corporate websites
and portals promise utopias
to shame any flower child’s pipe dream.
Don’t hold your breath.

Technology changes. But people? Never.
A simple principle, ages old.
Questioned only here, over tapas and craft beer.

My iPhone’s World Clock is set to “Los Angeles” now.

Authorship

  • by Mark Abel (b. 1948), "The World Clock", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor] , Mark Abel

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

3. The Nature of Friendship [sung text checked 1 time]

I have a few.
Once thought I had many more.
So lucky, as Streisand once sang,
that I needed other people.

It was an illusion.
For other people don’t need me, it seems.
Those who’ve disappeared or slipped away slowly
may now number in the hundreds. 

Andrea, Ariadne, Tom, Dan, Sondra, William, Marissa … 

But why did we do those things –
the phone calls, the letters, the lunches,
the matchmaking, the offering of the shoulder,
the borrowing, the returning, the sharing
of most painful truths and epiphanies,
the tears, the hugs, the catharses.
       
“All that’s been swept out with the garbage,”
muttered Schigolch in Lulu’s London garret.
“Babs” didn’t know squat!

And if you ask, these people have their excuses, sure.
The bland and evasive: We moved away, my job changed,
I got married and had a kid.
But, if you can get a few drinks into them:
He was too forward, too backward, too needy,
he’s stuck and refuses to move on,
I wrote a book and I don’t have time anymore.
Etcetera …

We did those things – all of us! We needed support.
Platonic love’s a most welcome narcotic.
Interests dovetailed for a while; quid pro quo.

Don’t kid yourself.
They’d have kicked you off the Titanic’s lifeboat
if it came to that.

Authorship

  • by Mark Abel (b. 1948), "The Nature of Friendship", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor] , Mark Abel

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.