Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Death by Progress


Before I sat down to write this poem
I put on my cowgirl boots
and a straw hat
and a pink tutu bought at the vintage store
that was my favorite till it was closed down
to make room for more condos.
Some asshole built a castle on South Congress
overnight, it seems, which has nothing to do
with what I'm wearing and everything
to do with Austin's death by progress:
Farewell music town full of grit and legend
hello Disneyland.

Before I sat down to write this poem
I sipped a bit of Tito's graced with lime
and put on the album of an artist
nobody outside of here would recognize
in other words like most of the talent in this town
brilliant, unfettered, unknown.

All is not lost, I tell myself;
there are still moments when beauty glances out
an aging face reflected in vintage glass.
Afloat today on water so smooth and clear 
I could see the bottom 30 feet down
turtles rising for air then oaring away:
slow torpedoes aiming for sunken logs
their mossy shells belying any urgency.

Love lives here like it always has
weird, mad, wonderful love
bubbling up from the limestone
tattooed on the walls and bridges that make this place home:
Hi, how are you?
I love you so much.
Let's band together!
Love still tumbles in the too-crowded streets
from the doorways and open windows of rundown bars--
love of music, love of dance, love of love. 
You can screw up the two-step and no man will judge
most likely he will save you from yourself
take you in his arms and let you lean into him
for three or five minutes, the slow 
to medium tempo of eternity.

The hills around here are high on wine and Thoroughbreds
rich with the ghosts of Comanches and Rangers 
hunting each other down the cliffs and canyons,
heavy with that sweet summer heat so slow and lazy
one can almost forget what we're killing--
sucking up resources like we're god's only children
replacing them with junk and promises.
But ancient footprints left in river-bottoms
and fossils in the stones write that we are not the first
to have faced extinction in this place.

We are just the first to have faced it in this way:
by our own hands
on the wheels of our own fortune
selling ourselves piece by piece: 
the land, the music, the love
trading grit and legend for fake castles and pre-fab housing
water and trees for high-rises and hotels.

Someday someone will write a song about us
sung low like the devil's own blues 
a palindrome where end meets beginning;
I can hear it already, flung out wildly
and perfectly off-key, belted by a songstress
with a whiskey-and-cigarettes voice
who is just getting her start
in the last rundown bar in old Austin.



KB © 4/19/14




















Sent from my iPad

1 comment:

  1. Love the poem - especially, well all of it, but especially
    "...ancient footprints left in river-bottoms
    and fossils in the stones write that we are not the first
    to have faced extinction in this place.

    We are just the first to have faced it in this way:
    by our own hands
    on the wheels of our own fortune
    selling ourselves piece by piece: "

    And the last stanza.

    ReplyDelete