Martin D.

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Martin D. Goodkin
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Arts & Culture > Poetry & Prose > "Life Story"
 

"Life Story"






In 1956 I bought a book of poems by Tennessee Williams called “In the Winter of Cities” and have had it with me now for 61 years. When I sold the over 500 books I had in my collection this one stayed with me.


I was 30 years old when I bought that book and was on the edge of hitting bottom. In the book was a poem titled “Life Story” and it immediately stuck in my head and has ever since then.


Go ahead amateur psychologists—give it a shot! :O)


 




Poems by Tennessee Williams


Life Story - Poem by Tennessee Williams


After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all along,

and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms.


Tennessee Williams


 


 


posted on Mar 16, 2017 8:53 AM ()

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