“Listening to Paul Simon” by Dorianne Laux

Such a brave generation.
We marched onto the streets
in our T-shirts and jeans, holding
the hand of the stranger next to us
with a trust I can’t summon now,
our voices raised in song.
Our rooms were lit by candlelight,
wax dripping onto the table, then
onto the floor, leaving dusty
starbursts we would pop off
with the edge of a butter knife
when it was time to move.
But before we packed and drove
into the middle of our lives
we watched the leaves outside
the window shift in the wind
and listened to Paul Simon,
his cindery voice, then fell back
into our solitude, leveled our eyes
on the American horizon
that promised us everything
and knew it was never true:
smoke and blinders, insubstantial
as fingerprints on glass.
It isn’t easy to give up hope,
to escape a dream. We shed
our clothes and cut our hair,
our former beauty piled at our feet.
And still the music lived inside us,
whole worlds unmaking us
in the dark, so that sleeping and waking
we heard the train’s distant whistle,
steel trestles shivering
across the land that was still ours
in our bones and hearts, its lone headlamp
searching the weedy stockyards,
the damp, gray rags of fog.

-Dorianne Laux, via Serving House Journal. Originally published in Two Weeks: A Digital Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.


“Peace Like a River” by Paul Simon

6 thoughts on ““Listening to Paul Simon” by Dorianne Laux

  1. Julie Nicholson

    She captured the essence of what it was like to be young at that time with Paul as part of our external, and then internal, soundtrack. The use of bits of lines from his songs was done deftly especially emerging from a field of words that were also evocative of Mr. Simon’s songs without being copies. I loved the line “our former beauty piled at out fee.” I loved the whole damn poem!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment is a poem in itself, Julie, thank you. “field of words…” lovely.
      Laux is a magical wordsmith. I love all of her damn poems:) She especially writes grief as if she sees straight into its cold cold heart. She’s my favorite poet, and your glowing comment made me so very happy. Thank you.


  2. And then Graceland, when “losing love was like a window in your heart, everyone sees you’re blown apart, everyone sees the wind blow.” What a gift to have him singing our lives and writing such perfect songs for us..

    Liked by 1 person

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