Shine like it does

It’s times like this in the quiet of the night that I get to thinking about why it is that I’m compelled to write. What animal stalks the jungles of my insides? What hollow place am I endlessly trying to fill or express? And to that, I never find the answer.

I want to say that I’m one of those people who have a story to tell and feel compelled to tell it. But that’s a lie. I have no story. Oh, bits of story, certainly. But no living, brewing, bubbling plot full characters. I’m one of those bizarre creatures that can only fully express itself in half-expressions. In poetry. But … why?

What is it about poetry that shapes the soul? What is it about poetry that lends itself to music, to art, to lovers’ sighs as the moon slips behind the clouds? We cannot give voice to the transparent, ethereal stuff of thought. Not truly. Every time I have tried to do so, every time I have been given a poem most beautiful, seen the vision of it, when I try to write it, it’s hollow and empty. Each time that happens I know I’m a failure. I know I’ll never capture that essence. But still the Muse, the clever wench, steals in and fills me with compulsion.

In these hours I get to thinking about the writers that have touched me and influenced me. Tonight I’m thinking of the late Michael Hutchence, that most charismatic and wondrous lead singer for INXS before his death in 1997. Why am I thinking of Michael? I don’t know. He’s just there – a force in my soul. A voice forever echoing with words that have touched me and even saved me from myself. That’s the kind of shaping of the soul I’m talking about. Poetry does it – elegantly, softly, starkly.

In November of 1997, I had no TV or radio in my little apartment. I was living with my newborn son on $32 disposable income and eating crackers, tea and Mr. Noodle soup-in-a-cup. No one’s fault but my own. I made the decisions. But I didn’t reckon in post partum psychosis – a deadly and sickly phantom that steals your reason and your joy. Anyway, I was in a bad way. These words … these words saved my mind, my heart and my life:

The nature of your tragedy
Is chained around your neck
Do you lead or are you lead
Are you sure that you don’t care

There are reasons here to give your life
And follow in your way
The passion lives to keep your faith
Though all are different, all are great

Climbing as we fall
We dare to hold on to our fate
And steal away our destiny
To catch ourselves
With quiet grace

INXS fans will recognize those words from the song, The Stairs. They were my lifeline – who can explain why. And that last verse … Look you, how softly it holds its head up. How gently it takes you by the hand and wipes away your tears. Well, Michael gave us those words – gave them to me. His talent and his voice delivered them to my heart, although maybe his own heart had forgotten them by November of 1997.

I love many songs and many poems but only few actually belong in my core, down past the marrow of my bones where matter turns to light. Few touch me from the writer’s soul to my own. But when that happens, it never lets go. And maybe that’s why I write. Because if my silly, little words actually reach that place in another human soul, we will touch in ways the body cannot imagine.

Or maybe I just have excessive verbiage. Which is to say, excessive excess of words. LOL.

Anyway here are two INXS songs that I love. Even if you don’t know the melody, I hope you enjoy the beautiful phrasing – from my heart of light to yours.

“The Stairs”

In a room above a busy street
The echoes of a life
The fragments and the accidents
Separated by incidents

Listen to by the walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs

Listen to by the walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

The nature of your tragedy
Is chained around your neck
Do you lead or are you lead
Are you sure that you don’t care

There are reasons here to give your life
And follow in your way
The passion lives to keep your faith
Though all are different, all are great

Climbing as we fall
We dare to hold on to our fate
And steal away our destiny
To catch ourselves
With quiet grace

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs

Listen to by the walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs

“Mystify”

All veils and misty
Streets of blue
Almond looks
That chill divine
Some silken moment
Goes on forever
And we’re leaving broken hearts behind

Mystify
Mystify me
Mystify
Mystify me

I need perfection
Some twisted selection
That tangles me
To keep me alive

In all that exists
None have your beauty
I see your face
I will survive

Eternally wild with the power
To make every moment come alive
All those stars that shine upon you
Will kiss you every night

All veils and misty
Streets of blue
Almond looks
That chill divine
Some silken moment
Goes on forever
And we’re leaving
Yeah we’re leaving broken hearts behind

You’re eternally wild with the power
To make every moment come alive
All those stars that shine upon you
And they’ll kiss you every night

“I need perfection / Some twisted selection / That tangles me / To keep me alive
In all that exists / None have your beauty / I see your face / I will survive”

… wow, I doubt I’ll be able to tell you where this takes me, but it’s certainly down deep …

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4 thoughts on “Shine like it does

  1. merrill says:

    i used to hold this as a Truth – that WORDS were much too crude, too precise, too vague, to ever truly represent anything IMPORTANT. from them we cannot define a dream, a kiss, caress, a dream. BUT, FROM THEM we can craft a NET. and with that net we can — sometimes — capture for a moment something of what we want to convey. OTHERS (even our own selves in later days) cannot see what we have caught. BUT they can see the shape, the form of the net we used. and from that, from the SHAPE of it, they — we — can …. DEDUCE …..

  2. merrill says:

    and for sharing those lyrics and their meaning to you, the darkness of the need that they answered … for sharing that, not just with me but with the UNIVERSE here (when i can at this time only hide my deeper thoughts behind a door to which only two of us hold a key …) i can only say THANKYOU and wish i could reach these arms across all the miles between us and hold you ….. today is our 16th wedding anniversary – but i don’t think pam would mind 🙂

  3. merrill says:

    do you have those INXS tracks as mp3 ….?

  4. ~lara says:

    Oh Martin! Thanks love. I felt that hug. And I hope you had a lovely anniversary. 🙂

    I’m afraid I don’t have any of the tracks as mp3. I can ask my brother if he knows where I can get them.

    It’s always made me sadder than I can express how at the time Michael seems to have been in darkness, his words were carrying me to light. I wrote a couple of poems for him and in ’99-’00 I got up enough courage to mail them to his dad. I never expected an answer but Kell sent me a Christmas card with a very beautiful message in it. He was a special man; one I wish I had known better.

    Kell said my words about Michael had touched him and for whatever reason, I took that as one omen to open up my writing. The day I received Kell’s card, I saw my high school English teacher who had always encouraged me to write. Omen number two. I entered the Arien story in the contest at Fingolfin.com. I never thought to share that story with anyone but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

    So strange what connections we make …

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