Posted with permission & courtesy of Poet, Marian Haddad, on the special occasion of Michael Jackson’s birthday.
By the Time the Sun Had Shrunk
for Michael Joseph Jackson 1958-2009
by Marian Haddad
From “The Haunted Palace”
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.
But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
And, round about his home, the glory
That blushed and bloomed
And travelers now within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows, see
Vast forms that move fantastically.”
Edgar A. Poe
Maybe, Michael, you are dancing your steps circle-wide—
the rhythm of your feet beating out the sound in your percussive
heart—you become rhythm and maybe,
you are circling in joyful footwork, hands raised up,
looking super-skyward, shouting in, around, and to
the universe—music is joy, you Roderick, you lover of visual art and
Tchaikovsky, you in that big house, full of the gilded and the gold
—but darkness inside, all the candelabras, once lit,
have gone out—hearkening to the death watches in the wall—
Michael, now, you—or Roderick—or both—or every character who
makes a life loving art, perhaps finds themselves dancing, finally, out
of these earthly bodies that grow tired as an open eye
that cannot shut, the blue film of exhaustion—now you
are timeless, back into—that perpetual youthful body, the one where
your broad-shoulders count the rhythms out, your wild fantasias,
the easily recognizable beauties, of music science
—the wild improvisations — an atmosphere of their own
and instead of holding vigils for the dead
we hear your high-pitched invitation into
your song, making your way, “mama se” . . . around Saturn
—around and between stars, all the ravens off your tired back,
that perpetual public eye making its way into
your house . . . what they mistake for madness, trying to break
you down—the hellish tattoo of the heart—dark as midnight
—the Universe of Stars . . . a spherical space, interspersed,
unequably—you received more than most—why
we loved you, you borrowed angel—coming down from some sky
to give us electric heart, to show us how music looks as it dances
—is played— in and out of a body, you playing your own body
like that, not an inactive limb stood inert as you counted the rhythms out,
you said you were only a vessel—I say, maybe
you were Mercury, itself . . . the planet nearest the Sun . . .
the wild audacity of your perfect triumph.
Recent Notes from Marian Haddad
Written August 25, 2009
10:39 p.m. CST
A juxtaposition between Michael Jackson and Roderick, EAP’s character
Appears in POEtry and PrOsE, a collection of pieces by various author and poets, edited by H. Palmer Hall, Pecan Grove Press, commemorating E.A. Poe’s 200th birthday.
I used these excerpts for a long epigraph to start a poem of mine, entitled AFTER THE SUN HAD SHRUNK, the title also taken from Poe via “Eureka”. H. Palmer Hall had asked me to write a piece to contribute to a short anthology he was editing at Pecan Grove Press, to honor Poe. I re-opened my favorites, The Tell-Tale Heart, Fall of the House of Usher, Eureka and others, and I highlighted an inordinate number of lines and jotted down others.
This was shortly after Michael Jackson had died and I was ensconced in research on the trajectory of his art and the essence of his person, juxtaposing the percussive in his work to Ludwig van Beethoven’s. In that confluence, my new and extensive research on Michael and my delving neck-deep again into Poe, the fruit that came—-was an extended metaphor on the ecstatic that Michael gave and the sacrifices he willingly or unwillingly made that ate up his life, the cost of that global and lifelong fame.
I saw Michael in Roderick Usher, who is, I always believed, Poe. Palmer had asked contributors to use or reference Poe imagery or Poe-like imagery. I culled from the three pieces I mentioned above, though I read many, many others and noted lines from them through the week. After having hundreds and hundreds of lines I loved, and not knowing where to begin, so many possibilities, I took all the notes and the fat book with highlighted lines and notes in the margins, and sat with much too much material for one piece, and what happened that night was a mysterious process.
It was late, it was quiet, it was dim-lit, and my deadline was noon the next day. It was rather miraculous what occurred. I felt it, the poem progressing, and it knew, it seemed, precisely where it wanted to go, and it went there, and I watched, though, of course, I was the one who stitched it together and asked which lines of Poe’s wanted to be engaged and what I might build around them. One of the most memorable and singular processes I have ever experienced in writing a poem. The process of art so often surprises.
Marian Haddad, M.F.A, is a poet, essayist, visiting writer, manuscript and publishing consultant, private writing mentor, creative writing workshop instructor, public speaker, and artistic-event coordinator.
Marian Haddad radio interview with KPVL89.1Radio and her in-depth discussion of Michael Jackson immense talent, genius and influence in the world.
Marian’s facebook Honoring the Music, Genius & Art Spirit of MJ the Beethoven of Our Time
Wildflower. Stone. a poetry page of Marian Haddad