Suitable for Mornings
Amy Winehouse wails on the diner’s stereo.
It is early, almost light, and you sip coffee
at your favorite diner, a rural version of Nighthawks,
No one else is here. You. The cook. The waitress.
A covering of snow, a thin reminder of winter waits outside.
But you are in no hurry. It is warm here
and you have no need of crowds. You are content
to let your mind wander inward as the music fills the room.
You have at long last become friends with yourself,
at peace with yourself. Able to look in mirrors
and recognize the man looking back, age, wrinkles,
scars and all.
When you were young, your father played the blues.
A huge angled speaker, mono hi-fi, hung on the wall.
Old people’s music you called it.
And perhaps you were right. Today it is your favorite.
It is a music lush with emotions, sung to and not at you,
dangerous music, raw with truth. Suitable for mornings,
suitable for late nights and bourbon. You sip your coffee,
content to feel raw in the morning, for raw is real.
It cuts through pretense and you have come to learn
bleeding is better, honest healing is better
than any facade you could concoct,
but the prying out of feelings has been hard.
Who would have thought it? What should be easier
than emotions? But that is not what you were taught by example.
Your father never let his out until hopelessly drunk,
and then only in dribs and drabs before he slept.
Your mother felt each of hers, but kept them captive
to protect us, a hopeless task. Mostly, you were lost
between feelings you dare not express, so stuffed that you,
in time, lost the ability to name; more effective
than both of your parents in nailing those suckers down.
And the rest of your life? Spent muddling, doing emotions poorly,
a mess of a man, dressed in a good suit. looking so relentlessly forward,
you never saw the trail of tears behind you.
You are different now. Broken and rebuilt, and better for it.
Not prettier. Not nearly as consistent. More human.
Far more compassionate. Sometimes, evidently, breaking things
is the only way to restoration.
Let the blues play. Your soul sings with them, but
they are not, to you, songs of sadness, but survival.
About this poem.
A lot going on in these few lines…
When I arrived at my favorite diner, they were playing Amy Winehouse, who continues to be one of my favorite artists. And that set me off on a reverie that turned into this poem.
If you are not familiar with Nighthawks, it is one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite artists, Edward Hopper. You can see it here.
I write poetry best early in the day, before the day has engaged my mind, when I can lust release whatever is in there most effectively with fewer filters. That is part of the reason for the title.
Obviously, this is not one of my photographs. (Most on this blog, are.) I wish I could attribute it, but the internet attributes it to half a dozen different people, any one of which may or may not be the original photographer.