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  #1  
Unread 09-25-2019, 11:54 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Default Johnny Mathis, Me, and You

Johnny Mathis, Me, and You (revision 2)

When I was very, very young
I heard somewhere that one man’s voice
could make a bra clasp come apart
regardless of which song he’d sung,
like neither party had a choice.

And though I could not understand
the motive for the magic trick
it was easy to admire the art
of working vocal sleight-of-hand
to make a thing held fast unclick.

A few years later it was clear
what riches such a skill might bring,
and though I fumbled from the start
I hold some moments very dear.
I learned back then I could not sing,

but your voice left me feeling high
that time I heard you in a bar.
You sang your own song, "Perfect Tart."
You’ve had my love since then. Here’s why:
I’m happiest when where you are.

And we’ve been friends for decades now,
through marriages, through downs and ups.
We’ve both made choices less than smart.
We’ve asked each other when and how
and drunk from one another’s cups.

And I have sought for years a way
to charm you from your clothes with verse.
I’m still the ass behind that cart.
Two ironies: that singer’s gay;
my poems go from sad to worse.

Once this was going to be the rhyme
to make you come to me at last,
but I’ve no hex for bra or heart.
No, I’ve got only words and time:
today, tomorrow, and the past,

all we’ve ever really had—
just time and lines you’ve never seen,
trite doggerel about “love’s dart”
(I warned you: I have got it bad).
And “Chances Are”—what does that mean?





Johnny Mathis, Me, and You (revision 1)

When I was very, very young
I heard somewhere that one man’s voice
could make a bra clasp come apart
regardless of which song he’d sung,
like neither party had a choice.

And though I could not understand
a motive for the magic trick
it was easy to admire the art
of working vocal sleight-of-hand
to make a thing held fast unclick.

A few years later it came clear
what riches such a skill might bring,
and though I fumbled from the start
I hold some moments very dear.
I learned back then I could not sing,

but your voice left me feeling high
that time I heard you in a bar.
You sang you were a perfect tart.
You’ve had my love since then. Here’s why:
I’m happiest when where you are.

And we’ve been friends for decades now,
through marriages and downs and ups.
We’ve both made choices less than smart.
We’ve told each other why and how
and drunk from one another’s cups.

And I have sought for years a way
to charm you from your clothes with verse.
I’m still the ass behind that cart.
Two ironies: that singer’s gay;
my poems go from sad to worse.

Once this was going to be the rhyme
to make you come to me at last,
but I’ve no hex for bra or heart.
No, I’ve got only words and time:
today, tomorrow, and the past,

all we’ve ever really had—
just time and lines you’ve never seen,
trite doggerel about “love’s dart”
(I warned you: I have got it bad).
And “Chances Are”—what does that mean?






Johnny Mathis, Me, and You (original)

When I was very, very young
I heard somewhere that one man’s voice
could make a bra clasp come apart
regardless of which song he’d sung,
like neither party had a choice.

And though I did not understand
the motive for the magic trick
it was easy to admire the art
of working vocal sleight-of-hand
to make something held fast unclick.

A few years later it came clear
what riches such a skill might bring,
and though I fumbled from the start
I hold some moments very dear.
I learned back then I could not sing,

but your voice left me feeling high
that time I heard you in a bar.
You sang you were a perfect tart.
You’ve had my love since then. Here’s why:
I’m happiest when where you are,

and we’ve been friends for decades now,
through marriages and downs and ups.
We’ve both made choices less than smart,
and we’ve asked when and why and how
and drunk from one another’s cups.

And I have sought for years a way
to charm you from your clothes with verse.
I’m still the ass behind that cart.
Two ironies: that singer’s gay,
and my poems go from sad to worse.

Once this was going to be the rhyme
to make you come to me at last,
but I’ve no hex for bra or heart.
I’ve got only words and time:
today, tomorrow, and the past,

which are all we’ve ever really had—
just time and lines you’ve never seen,
trite doggerel about “love’s dart”
(I warned you: I have got it bad).
And “Chances Are”—what does that mean?

Last edited by Simon Hunt; 10-04-2019 at 10:20 AM. Reason: Revisin'
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  #2  
Unread 09-25-2019, 01:50 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Simon,

I like it - the wry tone sits neatly with the tight rhyming structure. I also like the slow release of news as we move through the piece.
It happens that I quite like Johnny Matthis as well. "Warm and Tender" I think is my favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhUO3ROVvQk
I would however vote for a title change. This one doesn't grab me...

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 09-26-2019, 09:59 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, John. I was waiting to say anything until more responses, but that hasn't happened yet. I appreciate your time and am glad you like it. I will think about the title.
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  #4  
Unread 09-26-2019, 01:10 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
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Two lines that make me stumble metrically:

S7L4: Iíve got only words and time:
S8L1: which are all weíve ever really had

My suggestion for the first: "I have no charm but words and time"
My suggestion for the second: "all we've ever really had"

In S6 I might suggest "Two ironies: that singerís gay; / my poems go from sad to worse."

Overall, I enjoy the ambling way this makes its point, the contrast between youthful naivete and older acceptance of the way things are.

Susan
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  #5  
Unread 09-26-2019, 05:23 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, Susan. I'm very glad it works for you, and I will consider your three suggestions. At first glance, I'm inclined to take the third one, in particular. It cracks me up, though, that when I try to vary my meter in response to accusations of iambic bongoing (and once, memorably, of thudding like a peg-legged pirate down an empty pier...) folks here always suggest repairing my variations. Ha!
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  #6  
Unread 09-27-2019, 11:00 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
Hi Simon, Like Susan, I too enjoyed the amble of this (an apt description for the rhythmic cadence of the language and imagery). It produces, mostly, a sense of resignation paired with declaration. A life-long love lust that has mellowed, but not yellowed. I really like that.
Tom Waits has a great song on the emotion contained in long-held love lust. I think that, sooner or later, we all harken back to a different era and look for ways to blow on the still-glowing embers, hoping for a flame. I remember my father doing it and being briefly buoyed by the notion that he might recapture and re-animate a memory of love and lust. It never happened. I remember it as being poignant.

S4L1 momentarily confused me. I thought the "you" to be Johnny Mathis.

In S4/5, I can't get this to read grammatically correct:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxHereís why:
Iím happiest when where you are,

and weíve been friends for decades now,
through marriages and downs and ups.


Should S4L5 instead read "Iím happiest when where you are," ("when" omitted)

The final line fits like a glove.
x
x
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  #7  
Unread 09-27-2019, 11:28 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, Jim. I appreciate your response here and am glad it mostly works for you. Another reader (not here) also thought the "you" might be Mathis. The title is supposed to fore-stall that, but maybe I need to tinker with it. As to the sentence you quibble with, it's supposed to work like this:

I'm happiest when [I am] where you are...

with the I am implied but omitted as in I am sleepiest when [I am] full of turkey--or something like that...

I LOVE Tom Waits and am about to investigate which song you're flagging to my attention.
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  #8  
Unread 09-27-2019, 04:42 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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A friend attended Johnny Mathis's concert in San Diego last Sunday. He'll be turning 84 on September 30th. She said, "He's still got it!"

In the following stanza, I would suggest a full stop after "smart" and making the next line "We've told each other why and how", which has a stronger pulse, and I think telling has more of a confessional vibe than asking.

and we’ve been friends for decades now,
through marriages and downs and ups.
We’ve both made choices less than smart,
and we’ve asked when and why and how
and drunk from one another’s cups.

It might also be worth considering ending the previous stanza with a full stop, and beginning this stanza with a capital letter. A period would let that revelation sink in a bit more effectively. Not ending the sentence and the stanza on that point, and simply rattling on as if that revelation it isn't particularly significant, is anticlimactic.
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  #9  
Unread 09-27-2019, 08:32 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, Julie. I have heard similar things about JM's recent concerts... I appreciate your specific suggestions here. I'm a little swamped for a few days, but I will soon post a revision incorporating some of your ideas and those of others here.
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Unread 09-28-2019, 07:55 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Modest revision posted, incorporating some of the suggestions thus far, as well as some changes inspired by other suggestions and some tinkering with wording and punctuation.

Thanks, friends.
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