Tag Archives: Dar Williams

“Kansas Just Wants to Be Kansas”: Everyday Magic, Day 887

“Southern California Wants to Be Western New York” is the title and subject of one of Dar Williams’ songs about what happens when the left coast suffers from yearning for a post-industrial crisis. On January 4, I got to read this poem along with other poems I wrote that riff off songs from Dar’s “Mortal City” album. Given that one of my most ardent fans (my son Daniel) said I should share this on my blog, here we are, and here’s a video of this incredible song.

Kansas Just Wants to Be Kansas

Southern California may want to be western New York,

but Kansas just wants to be Kansas, large and hidden in plain sight.

Too bad the earthquakes have migrated north, fracking us out of bed

to land on ground not used to shimmying. Too bad about the politics too,

shocked out of their long stay of sensibility, and smelling like

the aftermath of tragedy. Yeah, Kansas just wants to be Kansas,

weather-weary and not taking any prisoners, ready for whatever

the sky between the Rockies and the rivers storms together

past, present and future in the sweet smell of rain and heat lightning.

Kansas doesn’t want to be San Diego, swanky and silk in its

Mediterranean rags. We’re just not a picturesque Vermont town

ambling down the side of a mountain, or Texas where the heat is as intense

as the chutzpah. Kansas certainly doesn’t ever want to be Iowa,

all dressed up in its big-box statehood but with brighter ribboning interstates.

We just want to continue to be your friendly waitress at 2 a.m.,

able to carry six different slices of pie cascading down one arm,

and in the other hand, a pot of coffee, fully-loaded, ready to serve you

something that makes you forget about the desire to be what you’re not,

and remember the beauty of the wind, an old train that arrives

ahead of schedule to say, “yes, you’re finally home.”

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“I Will Not Be Afraid of Women” and Other Dar Williams Inspired Poetry: Everyday Magic, Day 886

xrm4tiidlrvud8m074mkTonight, I have the delight of opening for one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Dar Williams, in her performance at the Lawrence Arts Center. To get ready, I wrote a bunch of new poems, all inspired by Dar’s lyrics from songs on her Mortal City album since her current tour is a 20th anniversary celebration of that groundbreaking album (“Iowa,” “The Christians and the Pagans” and lots of other Dar classics are on it).  While I’ve spent the last month writing these poems, the one I’m sharing here — dedicated to my sister-friends — came in a rush while taking a break from revising other poems). If you’re in Lawrence, come on down tonight to the arts center at 8 p.m. and join us! This poem steals lyrics (italicized) from two songs — “As Cool as I Am” and “Iowa.”

I Will Not Be Afraid of Women

 

Because I learned early and often that when it comes

to all those falls from great and gruesome heights,

there is no one like a sister, and it’s worth driving all night,

ten miles above the limit, and with no seatbelt,

to sit at her table and drink her tea while she agrees

that we’re here to dance out of the lines even if it means

we singe our hair in ways we can’t remember the next morning.

I will not be afraid to go to her, and to her, and her, and her

my whole life: the ones who hold my stories

like Christmas ornaments, careful not to drop the glass ones

or make fun of the ones made by my children’s baby hands so long ago.

I will hold her 3 a.m. phone call, when she says,

“it’s all broken or it’s all better,” and when I call,

she’ll remind me why we’re lucky in this life,

sistering me away from hoarding the horizon, and toward

the new song we’ll write, then sing over and over until we’re sure

it always existed, just like this friendship, and this one, and this one—

each made of of cedar and wind in the long walk at dusk,

lukewarm coffee we drink anyway because it makes us laugh,

or a long nap on her couch in the middle of a December day

when I didn’t know where else to go, so I went to her

with my tattered heart and shining breath, to say, “please,

gather me up,” and she did. I will never be afraid of the mirror

she is or holds up, and the real life beyond that mirror

where we get in her car and drive for the love of motion.