Some of my earliest memories are of vacations with my parents, either to stay at that house right behind the Thomas Donut Shop in Panama City Beach or to stay with my Aunt and Uncle up in Gatlinburg. They owned an auto parts store in town.
On those trips, we listened to Kenny Rogers and Neil Diamond and Willie Nelson. “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain” moved me even as a kid. Old country songs remind me often of some of the best things about good poetry and often veer into the country of poetry. They talk about normal things and help you see them differently.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote “Ozymandias” – which we all had to read at some point – said, “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”
I like that quote. Most people appreciate a poem every now and then if only for that reason. It helps us see beauty in something we might have missed. Poetry helps us with perspective. A poem’s value might be gauged by how well it changes the way we see something we already knew was there but did not see it for what it was.
Like a beat up guitar.
Willie Nelson’s Guitar
It’s hard to write a poem
about Willie Nelson’s guitar.
It’s not like flowers and starlit nights
or my wife’s curves and smiles.
No, his guitar is beaten up
and has a hole in the wrong place.
It’s covered in scratches and
looks like it’s been around forever.
It’s not like the beautiful body
I saw hanging in a store once –
perfect red, and silver shown –
I can’t even play, much less own.
It’s ugly and brown and black
and looks like it could fall apart
but really nothing sounds better
than Willie Nelson’s guitar.