Poetry Mixtape 37: Digging in the Dirt

Continuing our live music autumn, we saw Peter Gabriel on Thursday night, performing the  So album (and other material) on his Back to Front tour. I have been a fan of Gabriel’s since the 70s, and although the years have changed his appearance, the passion and intensity of his voice have not changed at all.

Hearing him perform some of my favorite ballads –  most notably “Don’t Give Up”(with Kate Bush’s part amazingly sung by Jenny Abrahamson) and “Mercy Street” – moved me to the point of tears. Singing along with the third verse of “Solisbury Hill” (“today I don’t need a replacement/I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant/my heart going boom, boom, boom”), I felt completely free of the stress of my work day, happy and in the moment as the band skipped around the stage like schoolchildren.

Many thanks (as always) to my husband, who bought the tickets for my big 5-0 birthday this summer. Everything is more fun when we are together. (However, we were both a little irritated with the mostly-boring crowd, many of whom spent more time trying to record songs on their phones and iPads  – yes, iPads  – than they did actually watching the show.) So, for today’s appreciation of poems, I give you the lyrics to “Mercy Street,” based on Anne Sexton’s poem “45 Mercy Street.”

“Mercy Street”

looking down on empty streets, all she can see
are the dreams all made solid
are the dreams all made real

all of the buildings, all of those cars
were once just a dream
in somebody’s head

she pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam
she pictures a soul
with no leak at the seam

lets take the boat out
wait until darkness
let’s take the boat out
wait until darkness comes

nowhere in the corridors of pale green and grey
nowhere in the suburbs
in the cold light of day

there in the midst of it so alive and alone
words support like bone

dreaming of mercy st.
wear your inside out
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy’s arms again
dreaming of mercy st.
‘swear they moved that sign
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy’s arms

pulling out the papers from the drawers that slide smooth
tugging at the darkness, word upon word

confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box
to the priest-he’s the doctor
he can handle the shocks

dreaming of the tenderness-the tremble in the hips
of kissing Mary’s lips

dreaming of mercy st.
wear your insides out
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy’s arms again
dreaming of mercy st.
‘swear they moved that sign
looking for mercy
in your daddy’s arms

mercy, mercy, looking for mercy
mercy, mercy, looking for mercy

Anne, with her father is out in the boat
riding the water
riding the waves on the sea

*

If you want to write:

1. Choose a favorite poem and try to rewrite it as a song lyric (with a repeating chorus, etc.). Or, choose a favorite song and rewrite it as a poem that does not have a chorus.

OR

2. Use “Let’s take the boat out/wait until darkness” or “words support like bone” as a line in a new poem.

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6 thoughts on “Poetry Mixtape 37: Digging in the Dirt

  1. Such a sad, powerful song and poem. Strange to come across this today, because last night I was doing a writing exercise and one of the things that came up was a phrase evoking a very similar feeling/experience.

    This must be my cue. Time to go write.

  2. I’ve always quite liked “Come Talk to Me” myself. And although it’s completely removed from all his other work, Passion is still one of my all-time favorite albums. What I ended up with from reading your post was this Golem thing; make of it what you will!

  3. Pingback: tuesday’s poetry from prompt « naked.

  4. Pingback: Friday Freeforall « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

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