Tag Archives: John Lennon

My Student Asks If Flannery O’Connor Is My Wife

This happened back when I taught middle-school. The student in questions was a nice girl who was completely serious. There was no reason for her to know who Flannery was (unlike in the poem, I explained to the student who she was and assured her that she was not my wife). The John Lennon question threw me a bit more because why on Earth would I have a poster of myself in my classroom? Or a poster of myself anywhere?

My Student Asks If Flannery O’Connor Is My Wife

I have three postcards of her—two photographs,
one painting—and my student ambles over to my desk
and asks in all sincerity, “It that your wife?”
I study Flannery for a bit, in the first postcard, where
she stares into the camera with a half-smile, her blue
eyes intelligent and humorous behind her glasses,
the curl of her hair just visible on the side of her head.
The image is just a touch out of focus, lending Flannery
a ghostly air, as if she just floated in some time after
her death and someone snapped one last photo.

I glance at the three framed pictures of my desk
that show me, my wife, and my two children—color
pictures, obviously recently taken, our faces full of life,
in full focus, a split-second of captured happiness.
“Yes, Flannery is my wife,” I say. “She’s a bit older,
but we’re quite happy. She stays in Andalusia most
of the year, and I see her when I can. We read each
other stories and drink tea and watch the peacocks.”
My student nods, completely satisfied, and turns
to the poster of John Lennon on the wall. “And that’s you?”

Anniversary Song

A little rock n’ roll, a little death….

Anniversary Song

When I closed the shades,
I didn’t expect you’d die,
but die you did–

die, die, my darling,
you sang to yourself,
the sheet music of pain
scattered about your apartment
and the lot of us illiterate
to its language, the one girl
who might have helped,
who had a good ear for it–

could pick out a tune of agony
and reproduce it with panache–

her head was up somewhere
in the good clouds and didn’t bother
looking down or around,
the music of the spheres proving
too much for her, commanding
her attention with a secret hush-hush
show heaven had been talking about for ages…

…but you went, didn’t you?
Urged the drummer to launch
into “When the Levee Breaks,”
confusing the angelic host but getting
the demonic hoard up and moving quite nicely,
all together now, all you need is hate. Hate, hate, hate…

You once prayed to John Lennon to save you,
but Lennon couldn’t save himself,
couldn’t even so much as float a fucking feather
across the room, so he’s out of the deity-running.
Who else did you pray to? Blue Oyster Cult, as best I remember,
who weren’t so much down with suicide as they were
about making money and smoking a metric ton of weed,
getting high as an elephant’s eye and floating
down the River Styx without oars and hoping for the best.