Today was a …. “Meh” kind of day. Last night’s sleep was interrupted repeatedly by dogs, and today just was one of those less-than days. Rudeness begot irritation, and it’s like watching a snowball roll down a really big hill. You simply know it’s going to get bigger as it moves ahead, and you feel your powerlessness. There were a couple things in particular that crept under my skin, there were a couple other things that made me laugh heartily, but the undercurrent was always an anchor pulling downward, and if a fork in the road presented itself, I chose the path more irritated.We all have those days….
One of my favorite singer-songwriters, all the way from childhood, is John Prine. I’ve written about him before, but my devotion to him never wavers. His songs run the gamut, from sarcastic yet cheerful, to plumbing the depths of a depressed mind or situation. So, given the greyness of the day, the general sense of malaise, I wasn’t all that surprised to find myself belting out my go-to song of his on my commute home. I even turned down the radio, so I could hear my voice resonate around me, to be undistracted in my ennui. And, as always, I heard my dad, reminding me of the lesson in the song. “For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter. You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there” (and I see his eyebrow raise as he looks at me, knowing I know the words by heart, just as he does, knowing that I handle things the way he does, knowing that I need to remember I have a choice…) “wrapped up in a trap of your very own chain of sorrow…”
So, I guess I need a hacksaw tonight.
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
My heart’s in the ice house come hill or come valley
Like a long ago Sunday when I walked through the alley
On a cold winter’s morning to a church house
just to shovel some snow.
I heard sirens on the train track howl naked gettin’ nuder,
An altar boy’s been hit by a local commuter
just from walking with his back turned
to the train that was coming so slow.
You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
throw your hands in the air, say “What does it matter?”
but it don’t do no good to get angry,
so help me I know
For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
wrapped up in a trap of your very own
chain of sorrow.
I been brought down to zero, pulled out and put back there.
I sat on a park bench, kissed the girl with the black hair
and my head shouted down to my heart
“You better look out below!”
Hey, it ain’t such a long drop don’t stammer don’t stutter
from the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter
and you carry those bruises to remind you wherever you go.
(P.S. When I was a little kid? I thought the words “Howl naked, gettin’ nuder” were absolutely SCANDALOUS and fabulous all at once. Now I just think they’re brilliant.)