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Black Dog Blues

by Alan Jackson

“Writing a Sestina” appears
in this issue.

Hand me down those walking atheist blues,
take me to a time and place that softens like an unfocussed dream,
help me shake the dread of age’s decrepitude and certain pain
and the final nothingness that lurks for mine and me.
But the rational intrudes and harsh reality bites me back,
how much easier it must be to just believe. Wish I could fake it.

Oh like others to convince myself that I too can see it.
The saintly face in the sacred shroud or the subtle blues
of Bernadette’s Madonna on their cave back.
Wish I could catch the tail of their waking dream,
and patch some over the open wound that is me
when darkness and depression reign and all around is pain.

Why can’t deliverance shine through my window pane?
Is the saving light too brilliant for an unrepentant sinner to take it,
perhaps some things are just not for the likes of me?
When times are hard, and meaning loses me, I’ll sing those blues;
convince myself that life’s a half remembered dream,
until the black dog mood drags me weeping back.

Still, no stricture or priestly rules to hold me back.
Don’t need no holy writ, scroll, book, or Paean
to tell me how to think and what to dream.
No one tells me who to hate, or how much better it
is in their heaven than you can conceive. Or that their vengeful God blews
a forgiving zephyr across all mankind, except that is for me.

Freedom has its costs and it all can seem too much for me,
but unbidden these sly thoughts keep coming back.
Man — not God beats his fellow men a range of blacks and blues,
Man — not God enslaves brother and sister in a world of hurt and pain
and takes God’s glorious name in vain to try to justify it.
How could I want a slice of such a sick sad sorry dream?

Four and twenty virgins could be mine says a bomber’s dream,
they wait plump in heaven, recumbent, panting just for me
all it needs to reach such heights, they really make it
clear is to take out some pagan infidels. Oh, and don’t come back.
What kind of hurt and crippled God rejoices in such innocent’s pain.
I’ll pass on the virgins, thanks matey. I’m busy singing those atheist blues

So as much as it pains me to admit, I’m not as godless as I’d wish.
Just a dreamer without a dream, the blues I sing is for all lost dreams;
it’s a prayer to the child of man to go back to nature’s state of grace.

Copyright © 2006 by Alan Jackson

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