All morning I was humming that song about the road to ruin.
After a late lunch I got going.
Nightfall, torchlight: what does it look like, ruin?
"sometimes, however, to be a 'ruined man' is itself a vocation". —T. S. Eliot
When he refastened the opalescent plastic buttons on her button-down shirt, he misaligned most of them. She had to do it again. What if somebody else near the back of the bus had seen?
I overheard Melissa say "I'm tired of everyone calling me Goody". I didn't know. Later that year, the Ramones began recording Road to Ruin. It had a new drummer, a lot more backup vocals, the same no-nonsense pace, the all-male sound.
Gossip in school makes a kind of electrical storm, or else a medium of exchange: once you share what you know, then you learn what you can.
The Ramones were not boys. The ruin of boy is man.
In junior high we drew on almost everything, incising, chiding, wielding ballpoint pens— the scratchy reptilian plastic seats with torn-out safety belts, the denim that made ladders up our jeans... small flowers, boxy video game protagonists, raindrops, capital letters, things that girls thought scandalous, boys thought obscene.
What else I heard I would not say,
wishing I were a girl, or had ever been a girl, or like a girl had secrets for some body to betray.
Road to Ruin had the Ramones' first cover, the Searchers' yearning "Needles and Pins", in which the boy says he "saw the face of love, and I knew I had to run away".
Coda to Rue
All languages differ, says the linguist Guy Deutscher, not in what you can, but in what you must express: for example, in English, whether he did it to her, or she did it with him.
"All of it brings home", says Emily White in Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut, "my own past in the Washington High cafeteria, where I looked around furtively, trying to find my two friends".
Like an old rocker who's wasted all his line-ups and his comebacks but can't let go, no way, and takes some rackety journeymen and kids back on the road to the Wild Wild East, the Road To Ruin Tour, far from jibes about The Elderly Brothers or Simply Remaindered or The Dewdrop Explodes; and weeks down the road, is found dead in a hotel room in downtown Vladivostok, his czarina-sized bed stacked with empty vodka bottles and the kind of Russian who knocks at your door in the small hours wearing nothing but a bad fur coat...
So wily Odysseus, tired of palaces, planned a last one-way adventure and sent out the press-gang...
So blind Homer rattled to his feet, pushing dementia away like a man who fends off a wild boar with a harp, to launch Odyssey II, the final sequel...
For Avril Lavigne
I used to be told just what to play, and how to play: I was wide-eyed for the halides, the emerald tides of applause, raccoon-eyed in the foreign sun. That's the thing about spotlights: it hurts when they leave you alone.
Now I feel old: at least nineteen, today. It gets hard to decide who to be: minx, brides- maid, pirate, tagger, ghost girl, in search of more fun than I cóuld be when I was my first name, blank as cut stone.
Dad, I want to say thanks for forcing me to practice every night after school. It's hard to postpone what you want for what you will want later, to put things off when you might change so much from each March to that May, but now I know you have to study so hard to sound free,
and if everyone thinks I'm fake, faux Goth, black lace and tennis shoes and butterflies drawn on denim in ballpoint, it is almost enough to know you still pay me attention. I will say that I'm crazy, I'm yours, I'm real, I'm lost, but the me
that I want to keep is the one that dictated the mix, the author of pink notebook storyboards, not the star turn: the planner in the mirror, the overhearer who once stood in line for so long, who wanted to learn the secrets, the customs, the costumes, the whole bag of tricks.
Exile variations 1-3
There was my father's old mouth-organ but on the way I dropped it.
There's a song. It wasn't always about twilight.
Here they say look at the river, how patiently it waits to throw off its shackles, wrap itself in birch.
They don't believe persistence of ice can be the lesson.
Pickle's sharp on the tongue but we won't talk about the old days.
In spring, the new pack of heritage seeds.
In autumn, tomatoes picked and stored still green.
Awkwardly solicitous, you are ruining it for almost everyone, so eager to leave or to have a good time.
"You didn't know what to want", she said, "until you saw how someone else could want it, and now you want it way too much".
And at the camp fire where you will make your debut—forever renewed, forever naive, or pretending (nobody can tell),
sticks burn to shadows, birch bark parallels a bra strap, Hephaestos flicks an Olympian cinder almost contentedly, stirring the new twigs down.