jamesetta on my mind
jamesetta hawkins, who for me is to the lovesong what
gwen brooks is to the sonnet, transposed her birth name
to etta james & in early 1960 supercharged the colored
clouds of fine auric substance in my desire; molded &
shaped my juvenescent feeling core singing the lines:
i heard church bells ring,in the echoing halls of my desire, those plaintive words
i heard a choir singing...
made metaphoric moisture & vapor rise, made sensate
particles collide,rub together, raising the charge to
hyperelevated levels. made my blues electric, bright &
clear;made heartbreak a necessary nemesis;taught me
that tears may be all one has when powerless:
all i could do was cry;her voice cried for me. made me love/hate the heartbreak
all i could do was cry…
feeling,hooked me on the drama, the memories & fantasies
that made the feeling worse. but this was what love was
about,wasn’t it? later that year she put to wax the magical
words i needed my beloved to say to me:
all i need is someone like uin the matrix of my desire, specialized structures were built,
my dearest darling, please love me too...
set &embedded; loss & need, two polar pillars stood in mutual
opposition, connected numbness, disbelief, separation, despair,
sadness & loneliness with clay-footed, flavor of the day love
objects, the embodied narcissistic essentials of well-being…
i don't want nobody if i can't have you& then came “at last”, that 1942 mack gordon/harry warren tune
oh i can't love nobody unless i'm loving you...
that etta breathed life into. this song was the promise & the prize
& her voice sealed the deal. i ached with 13 year old anticipation,
visualizing what my true love would look like, what it might feel
like to have a thrill to press my cheek to …
at last, my love has come along,in the magic theater of my desire, love donned its wizard robes,
my lonely days are over,
& life is like a song...
called for its transmuting wand, touched loss to make numbness
feel, make disbelief believe & separation whole again. gave
despair hope, made sadness glad & brought to loneliness an
exquisite, lingering humantouch. love transformed need into
self-efficacy & self-respect:
ohhh you smile, you smilebut it never lasted, etta. it was always so ephemeral &…
& then the spell was cast
& here we are in heaven,
for you are mine, at last!
temporary. u never sang of the outside fix that love could
be. u didn’t prepare me for the time when love stopped
working, stopped making me high;when i couldn’t stop
my mindless stumble thru a long life of ugly relationships,
no matter how hard i tried…
alone from night to night you'll find mebut u couldn’t could u? warn me, that is. yr life wasn’t that
too weak to break the chains that bind me.
i need no shackles to remind me,
i'm just a prisoner of love.
much different than mine. could it be that the reason yr
voice sings softly but unmistakeably in the background of
all my memories is that we are bound by the same addictions,
the same obsessions. is that why i hear yr voice so loud & clear.
i want a sunday kind of lovewell, we have grown old together, peaches, & since i’ve
a love to last past saturday night
i’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight
i want a sunday kind of love
known every type of love, been ground down thru the
mill of love, reviewed the wreckage, revisited the scenes,
i need u, etta, the one who has been with me longest,
to sing to me once more, tell me that its not my fault,
that i’ve beat myself up enough, & that i’ve finally
paid the cost.
tell me, baby please, that self-forgiveness really
is the greatest love.
© Joseph McNair;2009