Zapruder, Winter, Dylan, & Young
Easy-breezy into December second. Neil Young’s new live album from 1968 is being released today. But lately I’ve also been thinking a lot about Bob Dylan’s recent work, specifically his last three records. I’ve been thinking of the difference between Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I’m thinking of the difference in Biblical terms: Bob Dylan is Old Testament and Neil Young is New Testament. That’s what I’ll be thinking about for the rest of the day, I think.
To help me into that, here are two more poems I like very much. Poems about America and snow.
When you’d like to remember the notion of days,
turn to the barn
asleep on its hill,
a red shoulder holding the weight of clouds.
You could stand still for so many moments.
So little is over and over required,
letting the wind brush your crown.
The lathes of tobacco swing into autumn.
Swallows already discuss the winter.
I know you are tired of imagination.
All that clumsily grasping the sunlight.
Aren’t you tired of bodies too?
Whenever it rains, they fall from the sky
and darken your window.
Clutching each other they call out names
while you sit in the circle thrown by a lamp
and pretend they are leaves.
The potatoes cringe and bury their heads.
Do you see them?
They know where to return when hoofbeats come.
Like you they were not born with pride,
they were born with skins made of earth.
Their eyes are black, and they sing out of tune,
quietly, under the snow.
* * *
from The Continuing Adventures of Andrew, the Headless Talking Bear
Dead human bodies, in a sense,
being the snow-covered road you take to an island
where all the palm trees and postcards suggest
something’s coming to an end:
the world, dark as a Caravaggio
Christ being lowered from the cross
upside-down, at night, no sign of God
or light – and yet, something illuminates the faces,
something coming to an end, a candle,
for instance, we’re not allowed to see – “Ah!”
you say, disrupting my slide show. “But isn’t
the artist an orchid juxtaposed against
a black wall? Or am I in the wrong
century? Why’s it so quiet?