awoke from a dream last Wednesday
strangely refreshing and uplifting
resounding in music
the notes still reverberating on my heartstrings
it was the first dream of my brother
since his passing
it may be my first dream of him ever
he was laying in bed
contemplating his demise
don’t know if he was speaking before or after the fact
guess it really doesn’t matter
with one simple sentence
and just a hint of anger
“Life is stupid”, he said.
implying remorse and resentment
for still having so much to do
I backed away to give him his privacy
as I readied myself for work
he got up out of bed and found me
happy and smiling, a sparkle in his eyes and teeth
corroborated his contentment
he was walking around the house playing his guitar
it was acoustic and unplugged
but the sound was electric
he was playing a Mexican folksong
his ex-wife appeared, singing the refrain:
“Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores
por qué cantando se alegran
Cielito Lindo, los corazones” 1
his song struck a chord whose message was immediate:
“sing and don’t cry
for singing gladdens the heart”
his daughter’s seventeenth birthday is today
with a party this weekend
timing is often coincidental
but it seems to me
this message was for her
and everyone at the gathering
for those who would listen
Terence would tell us:
“Life is stupid...so sing and don’t cry”
© February 18, 2011
1 Cielito Lindo, a Mexican folksong
for many years they've come to schwenksville
crowding the streets to camp on the hill.
life is brought to the Old Pool farmfields;
pitch the tents and shrug off the suit shields.
they've come to sing these grasslands alive
guarding traditions that will survive
with guitars, violins, flutes and song.
while the beat dances to the crowd strong.
for many years city people leave
their orderly days to hear minstrels weave
tales of love and loss set to music
with strummings old, new, and exotic.
over the bridge that arcs a small creek
to the concert area and seek
a good spot for a blanket hoedown;
they come from uptown, downtown, hometown.
dress is casual, sunblock crucial;
campsites range from fancy to frugal.
hand claps, toe taps, knee slaps to the beat;
musicians drum, hum, strum in the heat.
for many years the keepers of song
have come to schwenksville to play along.
with stories in their mouths and a spark
in their hearts, that burns into the dark.
in the years ahead this tradition
will survive, that will be their mission.
simple melodies and rhythms play,
the spirit of folksong will not stray.
Each time I stand
jaded on the evening red corner
my heart leaps as Wordsworth's did;
For the chimneys' yellow-brick fading downhill to one point perspective — gentle grey wisps/carbon spectres escaping slow-coal-living-room-smoulder;
For the pulse of life and folksong through the wall of blue Skehans, the pleasure on my perked ear;
For distant London's red star lights, dotting soft fog from cranes and glass skyscrapers — panoramic 'Cityscape #1' beauty;
And for this permanent composition, a canvas of thought, sight, sounds and smells — the senses of my London.
"So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!"
New Cross Gate, London, July 2018
— The End —