Sunday, November 15, 2009


Yesterday, during a long drive out of state, I composed the following lyrics in my head. I repeated at least the first two stanzas to myself, over and over, until I had gotten them just right; then I kept repeating them until I reached my destination, so that I wouldn't forget them before I wrote them down. I had made some mental notes on the remaining stanzas, so they came to me easily while I sat at a table at McDonald's, scribbling with a cheap pen and notepad picked up at a nearby Dollar General.

The lyrics have no personal significance. They don't reflect anything going on in my love life (which, you may as well know, is nonexistent). Nor was I thinking of a particular style of music when I wrote them, though I later decided that, with a pregnant pause in the middle of each line, they had the right kind of rhythm for a tango. More importantly, they have that elusive quality of "erotic sadness" that is absolutely essential to the tango.

So, here's the text. The music may come later. I'm not sure it's original, but if it turns out that I've (unwittingly) plagiarized somebody else's work, at least it won't be a very accurate job of plagiarism. I'm hoping that it doesn't resemble any other poem more closely than Noel Coward's "I am no good at love," but I'll trust you to tell me if I've copied my lyrics from an existing song.


I need to touch you so I'll know you're real
When sharpness of anger is all I can feel
When your silence thickens like plaster sets
The body remembers what the heart forgets

When my lightest touch sends you straight to sleep
When your whispered words run none too deep
We have seven joys for every eight regrets
But the body remembers what the heart forgets

The embers are glowing but there is no fire
I hear your name spoken but feel no desire
I'm mounting the stairs while you're counting debts
But the body remembers what the heart forgets

If the door will not open, then break it down
If smiling is futile, let frown kiss frown
Let the blunted blade meet the stone that whets
As the body remembers what the heart forgets

Be the cloak round my arms through the bitter night
Till darkness is sweetened by morning light
And we catch each other in memory's nets
For the body remembers what the heart forgets.

I need to touch you so I'll know you're real
To help me remember how it felt to feel
The heart like a planet both rises and sets
But the body remembers what the heart forgets.

1 comment:

Robbie F. said...

OK, from 5 days further on I see that it isn't so hot. I suppose I must have let the road noise convince me that I was hearing an orchestra in the background. Still, there are some musical touches in it. The words "remembers...forgets" in the last line of each stanza. "Sharpness...silence" in verse 1. "Whispered...regrets" in verse 2. "Embers...desire" in verse 3. Can't see a single redeeming syllable in verse 4, but verse 5 makes up for it with "bitter...sweetness" and the whole line "Till we catch each other in memory's nets." Verse 6 has a "planet" in it. So it's got some blood in it - maybe not as much as there is on it, but what can I do? It's only my first tango!