Flash Back Friday: 3-19 “The Life”

This Flash Back Friday where I revisit and share a post from the past on this day brings us to a poem I originally penned in 2013, “The Life”. It was written using the glosa poetry form where you take a stanza from another poet and use their lines to create a poem of your own. [There is a little more to it and you can read the rules here if interested: how to write a Glosa.] It is one of my favorite forms to use as I enjoy creating works that go in a different path from the source material.

My poem was based from the opening verse of the song “Moon Over Bourbon Street“, by Gordon Sumner. If the title seems familiar to some, but not the author’s name; it is because most of the world knows him by his stage name: Sting. Yes, that Sting, as in Sting and The Police.

There’s a moon over Bourbon Street tonight
I see faces as they pass beneath the pale lamplight
I’ve no choice but to follow that call
The bright lights, the people, and the moon and all

Gordon Sumner (Sting) / Moon Over Bourbon Street

Everyone seems to be in easy mode
The corner’s quiet on this autumn’s eve
Despite the first cuts of winter’s cold
It’s happy smiles folks give and receive
Setting a mood that makes me bold
And my protector has me in his sight
On the off chance all is not as should be
And he may have to come rescue me
But I know everything’s going to be all right
There’s a moon over Bourbon Street tonight

Casting a cool light on this patch of street
I start to flirt with some and have my say
But walking in the sun is a different deceit
The base rules change in the light of day
I’m not acknowledged by all whom I meet
I know they know who I am, as they nod so polite
Those men pretending they don’t know my name
And the wives who avert their head just the same
Knowing their husbands are just faces in my night
I see faces as they pass beneath the pale lamplight

Yes, I’m paid for the need of my company
And more often than not, paid quite well
I aim to please after all you see
But I remember when things weren’t so swell
At the beginning of this life for me
Like babies, before I could run, I had to crawl
Now I choose just how my night is spent
But the truth of lies lay evident
When my pockets hold no cash at all
I’ve no choice but to follow that call

For all the company I have I am still alone
And I watch time shorten the length of my employ
I was young when I started and now I’m grown
I slowly prepare for when I’m past giving joy
But tonight, tonight my love’s my own
On nights like this I’m standing ten feet tall
Pretending I’m just like any other in the park
Out on the town for another evening’s lark
Just another guy walking in the leaves of fall
The bright lights, the people, and the moon and all

The story goes that the inspiration for the song was reading Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. However, it was the haunting visual of a person walking alone at night under street lamps in the lyrics that took flight in my mind. This above poem was the result. No vampires in this night.

In yesterday’s slice I briefly mentioned how my being a little cheeky while on the phone is what made me memorable and saved me some grief when getting my first vaccination dose. When the guy I spoke to on the phone saw me in person, his expression was one I’ve seen often. The quickly hidden surprise that the intelligent and funny woman on the phone is one with purple hair, who wore a Sherlock Holmes tee-shirt, jeans and rainbow mandala printed combat boots, also had a melanin enriched complexion. While the back-handed assumption it conveys annoys me, I am also always amused at shaking that assumption on their part.

It made me happy to discover this particular piece is what came up as my Flashback Friday as it also shook an assumption. I remember the first time I posted this, I had taken a couple of the readers by surprise with the second to the last line. One reader admitted to having his preconceived stereotype of the storyteller’s gender ‘jolted’. I liked that. Did I catch you off guard with that reveal as well?

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8 thoughts on “Flash Back Friday: 3-19 “The Life”

  1. Oh my gosh, what a poet you are. (I want to try a Glosa; unlike you I will never share it, I’m sure.) I was struck by the reveal, loved to have my expectations countered. I happen to be reading a novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak with a main character who is an unapologetic woman of the night. It is serendipity that I can add your stunning imagery and mood to my reading. Thanks for this, truly.

  2. Truthfully, you did catch me off guard. Not what I expected. Just goes to show how so many of us have preconceived notions about people. Even knowing better, they are still there. Your poetry hits so many levels. The moon casts its light on the people passing just as a spotlight illuminates an actor on a stage.

  3. Raivenne, first of all, this is a FASCINATING structure for poetry. It reminds me of the Golden Shovel format – completely amped up, though. I am going to have to give this a try! As for your poem itself, it’s beautiful. Here’s what I love so much about it. At first glance, we might read a poem and see it as a world of its own, complete and whole. And then what you do with each line is you expand each and every one into even more vivid, luxurious detail. The way you do that is MAGIC.

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