Get Happy

Here are the original poems that form the basis for the script of
Get Happy:

rooms
from a line in the mind

He waits inside the house
hunched over his desk
scratching at paper

lays his arm beside the page
and sticks the needle in

They’ve read each other’s work
as if it were their own
written words that the other
has not yet remembered

She listens for a tonal shift
the beat of a new language
he is not yet ready to hear

There is a room in the house
he does not visit
described only in coded messages
set in formal structures

Outside the window
a field of books scattered in the rain

she walks toward the gate
light converging through a prism

He invites her into his study
in the house where every room is empty

you’ll hear her voice
in random words he speaks

He finds himself writing where everyone can see
typing for the whole neighbourhood to hear
bodies press so close
someone else’s fingers strike the keys

She sits down to finish his line
while he gets up to dust the room

She begins a longer poem

He cleans the rest of the house

Their dance continues
rules changing as they play

They consider each other slowly

optic nerves relax

erotic noises calm

They turn to face each other

laughing at their own reflections

bowing to gravity
from Dancing with Gravity

she is half the world when she bends, hair falling to the ground, face obscured

she is a hemisphere mapped in five lines, arching over emptiness, holding nothing

she is a sketch of an idea, the anatomy of a watermark, anonymity on blank paper

she is without choreography, without lights or stage, with only her whispered music

there she was, there she will be: her whole body bowing to gravity, not yet in motion

Elizabeth’s Song

I’ve been hurt enough to write a blues song
but never as deep in the blues as you
an off-duty waitress still at the bar
and me just another guy in the queue

I knew right away that I’d seen your smile
when you served me here before
and we both know the singers who come here to play
and all the words of their heartbreak folklore

and now your sweet mouth is red from drinking
and when I ask you why you just stare
a delicate hand on your tender heart
shy silence lost in a tangle of hair

we’re holding hands but you don’t look at me
I’m warming you with compliments, not flattery
but you look down into your glass of claret
like it’s the last rose from his bouquet

Write Me a Letter

Write me a letter and let me know that you’re with someone else and we’re always going to be good friends and great dance partners – our heads together in the dark with our eyes closed listening to the music we make up ourselves; remind me that when we’re together our worlds overlap like wonderfully round and full circles in a Venn diagram of proximate but not intimate happiness; remind me how we’ve always had a crush on each other and that we always will; remind me that that is what makes our friendship hum in it’s own time and space; make this clear to me so that I don’t fall, so I can stay on this broad plateau of joy and amazement that I could be so lucky, to be so happy-go-lucky when I’m with you; remind me not to fall over the edge, to stay in this open and sunny and musically live place where I’ve had enough tequila to be intoxicated but not so much that when I kiss you it’s only because you’re so lovable and not because I’m in love; remind me that when we dance behind an old house on Spadina with the car door open so we can hear Bob Dylan singing Beyond the Horizon like we’re in a low-down version of a Gene Kelly/Ann Miller movie that it’s our comedy not a romantic comedy.

The Mirthless Men

There isn’t a straight-man left in Canada.

Everybody’s a comedian
and not a single one is wise.

Where’s a funny-man’s comic foil –
the set-up man whose sly question
makes a stand-up joker look so sharp?

Have we sold out local humour
for the laugh track on some channel
that’s glad to deride a poor man’s hope,
mistaking someone else’s reflex hee-haw
for the redemption of a hard-earned laugh?

In the silent era before spoken word
humour was not on the side of the empire;
it did not stir up our deepest fears without reason.
The screen was black and white but the stories weren’t.
Who will bring the good news from that vaudeville
where humour found good people in their bones?
What a joy for me, what happiness for you,
when an eyebrow raised invokes a smile.

adapted from Psalm #14
from the series momentum

Talkin’ Song

The night travels with you
as you walk
Water running down familiar streets
Cars playing their part
in the dark jazz
Lights reflecting in the rain
like lost notes in the air
You carry the streets with you
Tucked inside your coat
Faraway and right beside you
Lost, then found,
Lost, then found all over again
Pull your coat tighter
Don’t run for the bus
Don’t stop walking
Keep the night right near you
Like an old friend
Like a bad memory
Keep going down the hill
Looking for a lost love
Listening for notes you haven’t heard yet
Keep walking
Deeper into the music

Nicholas Power

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About Gesture Press

Publisher of solicited poetry and related writing
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