Tuesday, November 23, 2021

First Boy I Loved

 Here are some of the lyrics to a song by Judy Collins :

First boy I loved,
Time has come I will sing you
This sad goodbye song,
When I was seventeen, I used to know you
Well, I haven't seen you, many is the short year
And the last time I seen you
You said you'd joined the Church of Jesus
Well me, I remember your long red hair falling in our faces
As you kissed me
And I want you to know, I just had to go
I want you to know, we just had to grow
And you're probably married now
House and car and all
And you turned into a grownup male stranger...

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Robin Williamson
First Boy I Loved lyrics © Warner-tamerlane Publishing Corp.

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I received word this morning from his wife that Jim died yesterday, November 22, 2021.

Over the years, I have included references to him in at least three poems:

Hymn to Longwood Gardens


How is it that I was born five miles from you,

born to walk your three hundred acres for twelve years?


Now, thirty years later,

in the satiny iced lawns of February,

I dream of your sumptuous beds

of lavender

glowing luminous in  summer twilight,

your solitary fountain

stumbled upon in  deep shade,

of thrush revealing her speckled breast in the mulch

behind the Italian water gardens.


I dream of my first love

plucking my hand into his,

a young, thin, fine, freckled hand,

the first holding of hands

as we entered the garden

for a fountain display

on a starlit July evening.


In those days, you were free.

Now, you have flourished,

and your entrance fee is costly.

and this one:




At the intersection of throat and breath,

my voice clots.

At the intersection of verse and prose, grunts

a beating drum

I can feel in my gut

between stomach and spine.


In the town of my childhood,

at the intersection of High and Gay streets,

a store sold me black marble copybooks.

At the intersection of Union and Wayne, a red convertible turned toward me.

From a window near the corner of Market and Everhart,

I could see him coming a block away.


At the intersection of Barclay and Vineyard lane,

where July met the garbage strike,

the rats ran the streets.


At the intersection of Bull and Rutledge,

a woman stepped off the curb

on her way to the river.

At the intersection of Franklin and Center hill,

the sirens met the soldiers.

At the intersection of Laurel and Eastern,

I fell in love with geography.



At the intersection of sense and syntax,

I visit the house of silence.

Where paradox crosses paraphrase,

I write.



 and this one:

  To Live By Mistakes and Perfumes



Sound of July crickets blends with

Trumpet, echo chamber,

 Electric guitar, soft cymbals, clarinets,

harmony of the Fortunes singing

“Now just like you I sit and wonder why

You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mine.

And it don’t seem so long ago….

That we were walking and we were talking

The way that lovers do…”

Parked in your father’s enormous Cadillac

In the moonlight

By the children’s playground on Nields Street.

Why did we love that song?


Today I notice that

My ghost smells like Shalimar,

honey and cinnamon, with a hint of gardenia,

a shade of wisteria,

disturbing the cold March air,

knife of aroma

where the spring peepers croak.






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