Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bluebirds

A four year old boy and his caged
parakeet enjoyed the back yard sun -
the blue bird chirped freedom's song,
the melody regaled the child; an itch
willed the cage open. "Birdie
flies away, Mommy!
" His glee
erupted. "Oh, no, it can't
survive on it's own,
" she
cautioned. The boy's little legs
churned after the bird, standing
perched on the warm sidewalk.
The boy bent down and reached
out, but the blue wings flitted
the parakeet just beyond reach.
Again. "If I step on it, birdie
can't fly away," he pensively
considered. Splat. Cradling
the lifeless bird in his hands,
the boy bubbled, "Look,
Mommy, I saved birdie!"

A little while later, the boy
turned 18 and attended college,
where he met her - long, brown
hair, always barefoot, soft
voiced, in blue jeans and
blue work shirt - a calm
dove. Picnicking in the rose
garden, hearkening to bootlegs -
Springfield, especially "Bluebird,"
the line "Do you think she loves
you / Do you think at all" always
drew fidgety facial portraits
out of the notes in the sky
between them. His Venice
Beach hippie pad, awaited
her arrival one summer day,
but his phone failed to call
in time; an accidental motorist
suffocated her mortal flame.

On a February afternoon,
the boy became a 37 year
old man, as he tended his
garden planter. A parakeet
with shimmering blue
feathers, alit at his feet
and hopped right into
his cupped palm. Perched
on his head and shoulders
they spent years together,
though occasional business
trips took the man away.
One December, a friend
asked to stay at the man's
home. When the man
returned, he found
the blue bird entombed
in a small box, which
he buried in the garden.

As the boy's 56 year old
back bends with time's
passing pain, and organs
fail one after another,
the blues of his loneliness
elicit new words for
those Bluebird lines,
"Did I say I love you,
Did I love at all?"

The lines "Do you think she loves you / Do you think at all" are from Bluebird copyright 1968, Stephen Stills, and appear without anyone's permission.

4 comments:

DubbleX said...

just wanted to thank you for all the nice comments, they mean a lot to me.

Michelle said...

I feel very melancholy when I read this.

janjoplin said...

I agree with Michelle this is hauntingly sad yet lovely.

Shoreline Driftwood said...

I must first admit that all the events in this poem actually did occur, and pretty much just exactly as exposition in the poem reveals. However, I wouldn't just write the poem about the events, and string them together like this unless there was a purpose, an intended meaning. In the first stanza, the boy receives a teaching from his mother. Mother represents society, the child represents the individual reacting to society. The bird represents lifestyle - a chosen life path - of natural free will expressed. In other words, society tells us that we cannot live our lives completely free to do as we please, because to try that route would result in failure (the mother claims the bird will die on its own) - a devolution of society into anarchy. This is conventional wisdom. The child, trying to please the mother (the individual, in seeking to adapt to cultural influences) kills the bird (destroys their hope for true freedom by learning to obey, follow rules).

In the second stanza, the boy ages. This indicates evolution at work. He is college age. Hence, this is educated humanity with which we are dealing. The boy (teenager now) is still the individual. The song, "Bluebird," is intended to represent an evolution of society's consciousness and conscience. The young woman is used to represent the bird in this stanza, hence, she represents a free lifestyle on a higher arc - aiming to use one's individuality to express freedom in a manner aimed at liberating not just the self but the broad mass of society, the Woodstock Generation ideal. The two lines quoted from "Bluebird" explain the tightrope the individual tries to walk. Can the individual find a way to join with society and help society evolve to a higher level? The answer is revealed as the ideal is killed by a quirk of fate - happenstance within conformity does not give rise to carrying society on the back of a single human to rise to a new arc.

The third stanza again presents us with additional evolution as the boy is now a man. The man, in this stanza, represents the individual in a commercial setting, in business. The friend, in this instance represents society, also carried to the higher arc of evolution, in a business sense, demanding something of the individual (not that my friend demanded anything from me, but I use it here as exhibiting society demanding the individual conform to social norms and a consumerist lifestyle), a place to stay. The bird, again, represents the idea of the individual expressing their nature in a free manner. The garden represents the fruits of labor. The man gives society what it wants as he pursues commercial ventures. By doing so, he alienates himself from his true self - from this will for freedom. So, as you can see, in this stanza, the fruits of one's labor contain the dead remains of one's aspirations for freedom and autonomy because one cannot compromise and conform to society and still retain the absolute essence of who the individual is, or was when they came into the world.

The fourth stanza reveals another evolution. This is the stage of reflection, introspection, and understanding gained by fusing knowledge (learning from school) with wisdom (the experience in the marketplace). Because we harken back to revised lines from the lines used from "Bluebird" in stanza two, those lines represent the the higher aspiration, the desire for freedom which also liberates the society. The society is represented by the failing organs. The bird is the blues of his loneliness. In other words, his failure to truly connecet with his Higher Self, in the end, leaves him cut off from his Higher Self, or only half of what he might have been, only reaching half of his potential. But the question posed in the revised lines reveals that the only real worth in living may have been ignored because he conformed in order to sustain his living.

Anyway, that is what I meant to convey in the poem, in addition to revealing something about the life I led and a few incidents in it which profoundly affected me and the manner in which I lived my life.