She Thinks I Don’t Have Any Original Ideas

She Thinks I Don’t Have Any Original Ideas
Brandon Edward North

You’ve been listening to The Beatles a lot lately,
and after hearing every studio album, you say
“I really can’t believe that ‘Helter Skelter’ was them!”
You know when I flash a smirk that I’m thinking about
how you’re a ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret?’ person
rather than a ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ one.

“Hey, you know I like some serious stuff, too,” you say.
I reply that outside of Shakespeare and some classic novels,
you’re still way behind me in your appreciation of art;
you roll your eyes and adopt an incredulous voice
to tell me that I “always make too great a judgment about
people with too little an amount of information.”

Recollections of reading King Arthur then come to me—
you’d said that Guinevere and Lancelot never had sex
but I was sure they did and I told you to scan the pages.
You found Le Morte d’Arthur and read several tales aloud
before we learned that their secret passion was consummated
and started a feud between Arthur and his closest knight.

Something had felt awfully familiar about those stories,
and when your boyfriend came into the living room,
I’d considered that perhaps my mother had told me them.
As he and I began to joke like brothers, you joined in
while I kept looking over at your golden curls
to make sure I hadn’t seen a crown covering them.

But now it’s late, so I tell you ‘bye’ at the door.
I hear you turn the lock, and think of a Kerouac quote
as I walk out into the solitary winter-night air.
He’d wrote that if you “offer them what they secretly want,
they immediately become panic-stricken,” and so I stride
across the concrete like I’d been on the road myself.

I get in my truck and put in a Velvet Underground CD.
When I reach the highway, a ballad comes on,
it’s singer crooning in a melodiously ambiguous voice;
and as I hear the line, “the fact that you are married
only proves you’re my best friend,” I recall people saying:
“Hey, you sound like Lou Reed—I dig it, man.”

No one ever seems to think the future will come—
It pisses me off when I’m exactly right about it
and no one I love listens to me when it’s the present.
When I warn them about the pitfalls on their path
and quote Robert Frost to make certain they know
“how way leads onto way,” they think I want to sound smart.

They tell me that I quote people too much.
I suppose they think I couldn’t possibly
know their soul better than they know it themselves—
even pagans like you always forget my Whitmanian belief
that everything is part of the larger whole
and I don’t consider my own to be apart from theirs.

You say that “people have to make their own mistakes—”
but streetlights illuminate all the roads I’m taking
and I wonder why I wasn’t blessed with dull perception.
Introducing Howl, William Carlos Williams said that
“poets are damned, but they are not blind,” and it must be true
because I can’t prevent tragedies a mile away—even for myself.

At home, I turn my iPod on as I get into bed;
the breathy yelp of The Smiths’ postmodern crooner
comes into my ears, channeling Kerouac himself.
He moans over the band that “pretty girls make graves”
and I’m certain now that you’ve said I can sing better
someone will soon say how much I sound like Morrissey too.

about the author
Brandon Edward North is a poet from Dayton, Ohio and recently graduated from Wright State University with a B.A. in English. He is currently applying to MFA programs around the country, and thanks Mock Turtle for the great hospitality they continue to show to his work. His poems can be found in other issues of Mock Turtle and in issues of Wright State’s Fogdog Review.