Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Friedberger Friday (two days early)

Song lyrics don't work as poetry (a screenplay is not a movie), but damn, sometimes they almost do. Here is a song by Matthew Friedberger, one of the Fiery Furnaces. His sister Eleanor is the other Fiery Furnace. She does most of the singing. This is a song she sings.


BORNEO


I was so bored with my old life;
I was so bored with decent odds.

My new roommate left her debit card:
some sort of test for me. It's too hard.
Try to run an errand. Nervous sweat.
I rush back home and if I win I'll give her half. (I bet.)
Online casinos in the Caymans;
Legal disclaimer writ for layman's.

I moved back into New Canaan;
babysit my sister's kids; it's rainin'.
They fuss a bit while I put them to bed,
and grumpy, sitting on the couch, I get it in my head:
take Metro North. A silver candlestick.
To Aquaduct on LIRR. Pick.

I was so bored with my new life.
I felt like I knew all the odds.

I bet 'gainst myself I wouldn't wager
my boyfriend's mother's mansion (nothing major).
I stole the deed one night when she was drunk.
I drove onto the reservation with it in my trunk.
Sensors beep the threshold when I crossed it;
thirty thousand marker soon I lost it.

Baltimore inner harbor (sports) zone:
being courted. He's talking on his cell phone.
"Let me tell you why I think I love her:
She knows you always take the bye week dome home team to cover."
Go up to Pimlico and I choose.
It's no fun if it's fine when you lose.

I was so tired with all the angles;
I was so bored with losin' easy

So I gambled on going further a-field.
So I flew to Sydney and then to Bali and then to Jakarta
and called on my step-father's ex-business partner
Major Timmy Sastrosatomo
and he set me up as a silver smith/batik dabber
in a house once owned by the Princes of Mataran.
And he told me all his troubles.

We bribed a CFO at Semen Cibinong
to get them to buy a 40% stake
and we got a 5 million dollar order from Nieman Marcus,
which we filled about 10%;
but I did sell them my children's book
which I said was a South Sumatran
folk tale—which went like this:

I played cards for seven days straight,
was up $47 dollars late
evening as the sun went down I saw
the ace of diamonds up his sleeve—black velvet on his paw.
I fold, say goodbye politely.
They bark, you don't get off that lightly.

I dreamed of a casino way up in the hills of Borneo
where I lost with the giant flying squirrels and orangutans and great morman
         butterflies all day long.
'Til the bulldozers turned us into Whole Fruit Fruit Bar sticks and china markers.

*****

I saw some music reviewer compare the Friedbergers' lyrics to Kenneth Koch, and that reviewer mentioned another reviewer who compared them to John Ashbery. Maybe, sometimes. I don't know, those reviewers might have just picked those names because they were music reviewers not necessarily acquainted with as many poets as poetry reviewers might be. I don't know who I would compare them to.

Semen Cibinong is a real company by the way. Apparently they are "one of Indonesia’s largest cement manufacturers".