Testify

Right now, my favorite Crowe/Doyle song is Testify. That’s how I want to rhyme, the story unfolds naturally but it’s wonderfully catchy. I’ve been experimenting with narrative poetry for a few years now, and it’s opened my eyes to the importance of creating complex characters with charismatic voices and compelling stories. You want a fun story with a great climax, that doesn’t seem cheap or predictable. So many adventure stories are already taken. So instead of trying to come up with original stories, I tried telling the stories of my favorite movies, to study the craft of plot from example.

Testify should’ve been on the 3:10 to Yuma soundtrack, it’s not as black hearted as Ben Wade but it could almost be his theme song. This little piece of fan poetry about 3:10 to Yuma doesn’t have the lyrical qualities of ballad meter, but I’m proud of the way it illustrates Elaine Scarry’s scholarship on the experience of chronic pain, so I thought I’d share it. One take on originality is that it comes from close observation, rather than unique spin. That’s a skill I’m trying to develop by studying themes that stand out in my favorite movies.

The shin I’ve fitted to my knee
still digs against and into me
when it comes off, a phantom pain
I cannot shake but have to feign
an ignorance of perfectly,
or I admit my enemy.
The heat of it resides inside
my body like a furnace plied
by my own heart, but it is not
a part of me, no, I am shot
each time I feel it, so the trick
is not to murmur at the kick.
But the humiliating limp
betrays me. Hobbled like a wimp
I find slight empathy in stares,
its measure is restrained and wears
a mask of platitudes that shame
and dog me for having inflamed
a worthless sentiment. It breaks
my voice at times, and hidden aches
overwhelm me in privacy,
I have only complaints. I see
the world as wounding, for it
jostles my wound. The blinding split
between my conscious mind and flesh
that has done all its healing, fresh
in its complaints each day, denies
me clear reflection, vivid sight,
or perfect hearing. By what right
is this invisible? My wife
tires of belief in the knife
that still stands in the open wound.
She sees nothing there, as attuned
as she is to my feelings, doubt
is her experience of pain. Drought
she can see, poverty she feels.
Who can believe pain never heals?

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Filed under 3:10 to Yuma, Music, Poetry

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