Sunday, September 04, 2011


I mentioned previously that Cecilia Langlois aka Geejay Arriola, an award-winning songwriter and singer, has decided to put one of my poems to music! What an honor! Well, I don't think she anticipated having to slog through all my books, though, before she chose a poem (heh). Anyway, she chose an old poem of mine (it classifies as a "baby poem" since I believe it's among the first 20 poems I ever wrote) from my first poetry book Beyond Life Sentences, a poem entitled "Immigrant."

What's interesting is that she asked permission, for purpose of making the text work more for her song-writing, to edit the poem. I'm going to show the poem below with the indicated edits. But what's intriguing to me is that, the way I see the poem now, her edits improve the poem as poem anyway. Certainly, if I were writing the poem today I might edit it her way whether or not one calls it a poem or song lyric ... (even as I recall how certain poets in the past call for the poem to sing!)

... and, in turn, this all leads me to wonder about the difference between poem and song lyric. Does there really need to be a difference...?

The faces of the elders
Bestow a haunting
On others reciprocating
With their own weariness,
Dropping gazes like debris.

Teeth are missing
Gums full of potholes.
Long ago, shoulders sagged
To crumbling ruins.

They sit by roadsides
Under trees whose shade
They treasure for costing

Splayed around their feet
Are the young whose faces,
Like babies anywhere,
Eagerly turn here,
Eagerly turn there,

Searching surroundings
For treasures invisible
But I also believed existed
When I still shared their innocence.

There is a country somewhere
On the opposite of where I stand
On this earth, a country
From where I departed
For a people I thought to save
Someday with my return.

But the old and the young
Are as different from me
As the wealthy of this universe:
They do not need much,
They need too much
They do not ask,
They must often plead
—While I know what it takes
To survive

And that survival meant
To move on from where a man
And a woman joined
Before the onset of weakness
To create me

Finally I know
At this peak of my wisdom
That to return bears
No relationship to survival

Which, instead has to do
With you whose path
Crossed mine
In a new land.

There is a country somewhere
Dying without a protest
From me defensively,
Selfishly seeking
Rebirth in your arms

Hm. I couldn't ... wouldn't ... write this poem today ...

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