Thursday, November 15, 2012

Woody Guthrie’s Last Love Letter From The Insane Asylum

            I spend too much time staring at the damn tree outside my window. I should get a cat or something. But I don’t. Can’t, of course. I’m mired with insignificant ways to go through my life. You are almost my only sunshine. Marjorie. I am almost if not wholly not insane at all. This here land of starched white linens is not my own.
            Marjorie, the sound your name makes soothes and slides sticky like jam on my tongue. Trembling’s about all I’m good for these days. A refugee, finally, at last, if the dust of my past still can’t get me. Maybe? Lord, lord, lord…knows? Maybe.
            The slowest rolling trains, out of time or mind, blow smoke into my weary head, here as I get couch cushions and soft pillows for my troubles from the too-kind nurses. Kindly. I must put that in for them. Nicer than ever watching my train go by. Go by. And get gone at last, here, soon, perhaps, some old freight carrying nothing but empty cars, like some Danville girl, right? Maybe. Hat on the back of her head, you know? Marjorie. You do. You just do.
            My mind is not right. Whatever devils wrestle inside me, whatever they’ve done to what I was, it streaks the glory from my veins, and at last, at last, I am toppled by lonesome valleys and bedridden with sooty ghosts. The river’s moan is too far gone. I watch the tree-branch shadows dance their leaves along the wall like some outlandish cartoon and try not to pray.
            I’m dragged between drowning in hate for you and floating mindless on the sea of your love. I’m punched restless. Are you sad at all to not have my hobo ways as part of your life now? Have I train-hopped my way too lonely and far away from your station? Well, me? Got no home in this world. You know me. Maybe we all just end up going down the road feeling bad. Feeling so bad, they used to call it the blues. Now? I just don’t know. I just don’t.
            A worse world coming, and I keep asking, asking why. Over and over. Never been so chained to being free. This here nerve-jangling machine kills what’s left of me. Not fire. Not automobiles. Maybe a curse broken, then, at least. Bigger things on the horizon? Nope. I’m digging my own grave, downright resplendent in a white flannel suit. The stew of me has got so thin that even a senator could see through it.
            The other folks here who’ve been committed and the likes, they lie and weep and howl all the daylong and nights too. Some are strapped to their beds. Me? I miss my sweet Marjorie and try to behave, whispering red-river lullabies to the way you used to wrinkle your eyes in the mirror.            
            Yesterday I swung my arm and punched a nun who’d come by to bring me some comfort. It was unfortunate. My limbs twirl about on their own. There’s nothing I can do about it. I flail away. I mumble. I drool. Most times are gray at best here, and dusty too. And there isn’t even a cigarette or any coffee around for miles. The wind blows cold.
            I’m going to end up, and, you know, maybe I already have, just like mom. Oil? Nope. Just the grease. You know how that goes. They here think I’m all filled up with delusions. Grand ones at that. I’m lonesome for my harmonica, playing it upside down as always, the crunch of gravel under my boots, the sound of a railroad whistle, campfire smoke and a little dancing late at night. My tongue that used to lick and lock and roll every last syllable around like a polished marble, even sitting in the back of a pickup, well, now it’s no longer strong enough to fight its way out of a lunch sack. Gone. Everything just goes. That’s all it does.
            Are you sad with what these autumn days bring? The raked dirt, the burning piles of dead leaves. And my hours now are so much less than golden, like cracked concrete stairs leading nowhere, and a smile doing much the same. The splash and lapping of waves, hillsides ravaged by sunset’s red and orange fire, the stink of vinegar. I am nowhere near anywhere.
            Your footsteps. I miss your footsteps on the dirt floor, on the ceramic tiles of my dreams, and the way your voice would sing, “I love you, just a little bit,” in the dark. And how much I hate you for being everywhere except here. And for the best? Whose? Hell, if you were here I’d only choke you or throw you from a high window. Mistakes mount, and I’m leveled with regret, and what’ve we got but this tiny pinch of hope? I am forgetful and too angry to speak, mostly.
            I love you, dearly.
            How’s Arlo and the rest of the brood? Don’t let that kid’s hair get too long and scraggly. Please. People might stare.
            My hobbies here are odd. I wish airplanes to curious overtures while the pimpled clouds hang like laundry and drift on. The windows get stained with my spit as I sit and stare out and out. My penmanship’s sinking, crashing too, and bent and scratchy, and what’ve I got left but when my fingers so smooth then when they slept through what I remember of your hair? And I find the vibrato music of saws in the middle of the night calling me away, and I am not so strange in broken mirrors now. I won’t hurt you, at least. I won’t hurt anymore here in some land that’s no longer my own. And, and…well, America’s anything but blessed by God, right? The nurses please with tiny white pills to ease me away from what my heart’s now too afraid to sing. I am sick with blessings. I am worn by too many and loved by too few. I am sick of the tremors and the hollow screech of my whining voice. I miss you terribly. Your little body leaning into mine. The lilting halt and plush wonder of your voice. Swimming blind in the nape of your neck. The way I used to hold your bad-luck hand and cross your delicate fingers. I cannot stand the thought of you.
            I am classier than you’d ever believe. I still have that flashy silverfish stickpin you gave me. It resides regally in the lapel of my best suit. Well, well, look at me here on the other side of private property, digging up pastures of plenty, and worried about some gal named Gas Ilene. But, you know me, still filthy and revolting as ever underneath. 
            Dear Marjorie. My Trinket. Did I start this right? Is it some farewell gone wrong before it’s begun? The road, you and I, lost and stranded on some godforsaken highway in all that dust, in all that barren country that just goes and goes. Me? The loneliest hard-traveling hunter around, and nobody here cares about the moon’s waning shapes. The dark creeps all over, and you know what? I’d give anything and everything just to listen to you whistle or laugh again. So, there. Take that.
            Fondest misgivings.
            The saddest music strums through me. I can’t stay awake for much now. The twinkle of some tacky lights and tinsel strung around the banisters keeps me safe as I struggle down rickety stairs in the dimness that is here, and that is becoming who I am too. Dim. Lumpy. Off key. Done for. And now somebody’s gone and stole my hat.
            Forgive me. Forgive yourself. All I can do now is flutter and shake. The bottom of the world is calling my name. My rambling’s all over. Tie my horse to the cemetery gates, well beyond the West Texas plains. So, so long, and good to know you, too. My soul. My soul. My soul, it just never gets its rest.
            Yours for never and then some, and ever, and then a whole lot more too,