A Work In Progress Works on Works In Progress

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Yesterday my friend Bob K posted a link to my Facebook timeline, and captioned it “Gary’s Anthem.” It was a YouTube video of a man with a magnificent voice, dressed as a clown and calling himself “Puddles Pity Party,” singing a pickup ploy posing as a lament, entitled “Humdrum Blues.” I enjoyed the video but wished to set my readership straight on what my anthem would be like, if I had one, which I didn’t, but now I do, because I wrote one on the spot. It is playfully titled “We Are the Work,” riffing off the 20th-Century anthem “We Are the World.” Between the two asterisk-segments below are a prefatory ditty and the anthem, which comprised my Facebook comment-response to Bob.

*****

Fella’s got a hella set a pipes,
And ducks in rows, however he may slant them,
But I’ve got past my litany of gripes,
And so herewith present my REAL anthem…

We Are the Work

I’ve learned to put my pants on
Both legs at a time
Nothing to it
You can do it
Sit and scootch and rhyme

But you’ll remain frustrated
And frowned on and anointless
No mystery
Life’s blistery
When focused on the pointless

So let us grab utensils
And eke our tools of choice
And unberserk
And DO THE WORK
That gives a soul a voice

To feed the fire within us
Takes fuel in double-rations
So stoke that flame
No need for fame
Just grist and grits and passions

(chorus)
Tell that story dance that step
You’ll be rich as Imhotep
Be a sacred glorifier
You will take your high much higher

With brush or verse or banjo
With chisel, app or Net
We’ll work the room
We’ll shirk the doom
They ain’t seen NOTHIN yet!!!

*****

I AM my work, and it is I, which means it has something going for it, sometimes something astonishing, but is subject to my worst flaws of hurry-up-impulse, cheapskatism, and not knowing when to quit. The two sketches above are good examples. I was watching the DVD of the thriller THE COMMUTER, index cards at the ready to practice portraiture. The two results were disappointing in different ways, but I signed and dated them anyway, because a) the provenance is established when I do this; b) I’m prolific enough to often not remember when I did something; and c) doing this keeps me (not always, though) from making something SO God-awful that I must throw it away and disown it.

Friends, I hope the Work you do today fills you with pride and joy, with just enough of a touch of dissatisfaction to compel you to surpass yourself next try. Cheers!!

5 comments
  1. Love this poem for the amazing command of the language, its rhythm and beautiful rhymes. So interesting you have found inspiration in the song “We Are the World” which has crossed the whole world. I think your new anthem could also be a new song version. Have you tried to find someone to put music and voice to it? This poem is essentially, no doubt, a homage to work when it is our passion “That gives a soul a voice”, when we feel realised as in the third and four stanzas, when each person uses their own means and utensils (I love the last stanza where you include all kinds of tools to pay tribute to all kinds of work). Sadly, this is not always so as there are many people who do not like their jobs but need to earn money doing whatever is available. In those cases, even though they work, they feel as in the second stanza: They ” remain frustrated”, and “frowned on and anointless”. The increasing robotization makes work “life’s blistery” for many and so that kind of work itself becomes “pointless” and those people also remain “focused on the pointless” until they are able to find new work if they can. Again, a very nice poem. Thank you for sharing your lovely work that is done with passion and authenticity.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughtful take on my words. You see so much of what I was trying to do when I wrote them–for instance, I wanted those tools/utensils I named to represent as full a spectrum of creative endeavor as possible. It is quite gratifying to have an intention so well perceived!

      As for setting “We Are the Work” to music, it’s nice to think that it might be worthy of the effort, but it might be too soon to decide. It was written on impulse and quickly, taking about 15 minutes. It seems metrical and fresh now, but a rereading in two weeks or so may, as has happened with past work, reveal flaws that may or may not benefit from a rewrite. That said, and having just heard “Faithful Companion” in your own confident and musical voice, I welcome you to give setting it to music yourself, and singing it, a go. I love collaborations! πŸ™‚

      • Thank you again, I am really flattered by your wonderful feedback. So encouraging! Yes, we always find flaws in our work. I am never fully satisfied with what I modestly do. I am glad you also liked the voice of the recording. I remember a writer friend of mine telling me “Faithful Companion” should be read at an open mic. I have already participated in some: in San Francisco while visiting the Bay Area on vacation and in Barcelona. Singing and playing music is something I should learn first. Anyway, let us keep in touch and follow our blogs! 🌈 😊

  2. ELLE said:

    Amazing work here! It’s so clear how passionate you feel about the effort of our own handiwork. Great piece.

  3. Thank you, Elle! Your kind words bring me a smile. And your own numbered work reveals both passion and progression. You’re on a good track!

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