Monday, July 24, 2006

On Top of the World

Here I sit on top of the world
Exhausted from my climb
I gave music to the angels
inspired a siren's sorrowful song
I moved men a mile to make way
so I could spill myself on the asphalt
I picked myself up and staggered on my way
Where I waged war on the stupidity
of our endless adolescent conceit

What's more I gave my time
my dollars and my calories
to whoever needed enough to ask

I helped intelligent white men make money
I helped the rest trickle down
I connected gardeners to politicians
I put my hands in the ground
I pulled out the great Canadian novel
And was fashionably late for dancing
that very same night

Then came the dance of lovers,
and I had a lot left to give
I bet 50 on the Colts
blew more on supplies and loans
and used the rest on a bottle
for a homeless Buddhist

I made more friends than Jesus
and they'll never be content
I played them my song
on a capo I made myself
They asked me what's for dinner
I threw a party for my friend the Pope
he was 4 hours late

I dove into a warm lake
and swam until my lungs broke
was swept into the ocean
where I resuscitated all the fish
absorbed the mercury into myself
and introduced democracy
I was featured on the TV
when I made my own documentary
about the experience

The sun was in my eyes
as I wrote these lines
the lines were on my face
when I was 15 years old
Now I'm sitting on top of the world
my heart racing at the sensation
that swirls all around me
as my eyes blur and my head spins
you took me higher than before
It's 9 o’clock in the morning
and I don't wanna work no more

Let's lay here in the cold moonlight
watch the stars 24 hours a day
We'll warm each other on the cold snow
Exhaustion will never leave us
but our stamina will stand the test
While we lie here on top of each other
As we're sittin' on top of the world


The poem starts as a monologue where the reader gets the feeling that the poet has resolved to tell them a great deal about his life. There is extensive use of the first person pronoun“I” in the first third of this poem. Not a tangential use; the “I” bombards us with great effectiveness, constantly enumerating the accomplishments and views of the poet. This is not a persona we are learning about, but the poet himself, as we are, again, reminded by the use “I” over 20 times.

However, we are in for a surprise. In a wonderful turn of events, in the ninth line of the seventh verse we are let in on another secret. Right there at the start of the line is the second person pronoun “you”. It is not us that the poet has been addressing! The poem has turned into a drama, set at a specific time and with specific actors, and we are now the audience of this play. The entire feeling and complexity of the poem turns at that one line. Surprised at the twist, we are easily reeled in and caught in the very same “morning glow” that has engulfed the poet as the poem ends.

Part II--Some things I liked

Verse 2
The use of “my time”, “my dollars”, “my calories”; all things spent.
Unfortunately it is the last that we all have too much of, and seem not to be able to get rid of as easily as the others!

Verse 3
The botanical metaphor of growing the novel juxtaposed with “gardeners to politicians”.

“…helped white men make money”; “helped the rest trickle down”
Ah, very clever play on words...the “rest” being “non-white” who “trickle down” as the man becomes rich.

Verse 7
“…in the morning”: The coming of dawn, a good sign for the reappearance of day and life.

Verse 8
“…warm each other”: I can feel the youthful fires of love melting snow.

Verse 7 and 8
The use of “sun” and “moonlight”: The direction of the poem changes just as the world constantly is changing between light and dark.
Whilst I cannot dissect as eloquently as the very lucid Anon, I will say that wherever I chopped this open, I liked what I saw inside.
indeed, it is more a love poem than anything else. seems to be a theme in my life of late, hope it stays that way. anon, you could make a career as a poetry critic if this were not the age of television.

ultra, your chopping, coming as it does from a fellow chef, is much appreciated.
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