Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, John Lennon

1995 was a year filled with John Lennon. Advertising media stormed the market and, miraculously, a never released Lennon song, "Free as a Bird" launched the new Beatles Anthology.

At the time, I was a junior in college and heavily into everything Beatles. To help solidify the personal connection I felt through Lennon's artistic angst, I discovered we are both Libra (born a week apart and, I, in the same year as Lennon's son, Sean, who was also born on his birthday). So, naturally, I named my cat "Winston" after Lennon's middle name and bought every album I could get my hands on, even vinyl was newly released and remastered. Looking back in time amuses as I pause to think about why 19 years old is so ripe for The Beatles... free minds, open hearts, awakening, peace. John's messages in his song writing and political activism were much more keen to my young brain than other Beatles, at the time.

As a lifelong poet, it turned out that 19 was also the perfect age to be this vessel of recycled energy that intakes information and then transforms it, pushing it back out to the world in a new way. In the two years since leaving high school and with a major in English, focusing on creative writing, classroom experiences lead me away from Romantic poets, rhyme scheme and meter. I found myself (smack!) at the end of the twentieth century writing free form and playing around with the visual appearance of words on a page and how the image could intertwine with the words to create a more encompassing meaning. I stopped writing unrequited love poems and began writing darker pieces that demanded social justice and which mocked authority. By 1997, nine of those poems had been published in several college literary journals.

Only fifteen years after his death, after just turning twenty, I wondered what would be if John Lennon were still living. I was driving home from Philly one night and lived in a place called Smithville which borders the South Jersey pine barrens. Moss Mill Rd. is a single lane road, excruciatingly dark at night and stretches 20 miles from Hammonton to Pomona through thick woods, which I frequently chose to take instead of the police-thick major highway where I could be more than bothered for smoking giant, smelly joints in my car. And on this night, December 28, 1995, I imagined a wonderful fantasy and wrote it down on paper. It's one of the nine that have been published and it goes like this:

Dear J.W.L,

Last night I was cruising down,
down that lengthy highway road
and I heard a voice rumble out,
"Any wish will be yours"

I kept driving, with a smile,
feeling depersonalized for a bit;
finally, I could Let it Be,
a great man'd be returning

I made the wish to be with you,
thirty years before this day
we'd been having a conversation;
a quantum leap into your eyes

I spoke all the right words,
thoughts I knew you had thought
but hadn't yet verbalized;
intrigued, we walked alone

The time came for me to vanish;
I handed you a thick envelope,
"Don't open this until Monday,
December eighth, nineteen eighty"

You looked puzzled, I only grimaced;
you asked me why
I said I could not say, the answers were inside;
I made you swear, you did

I kissed your cold cheek,
your arm touched my shoulder
moving down my arm, 'til our hands
briefly met- I was gone

Again, I found myself in my car
on that same, winding road;
parked the car, opened my door;
There you were, fifty-five years old

My wish came true
The world is a better place
The War is Over
Imagine that

Here I am, 15 years later, still wondering, as many whom felt an affinity to who we knew as John Lennon, what about the world would be different if he were living. Perhaps, there is too much belief in Lennon as some super hero who, truly, could bring the world together as One. That might be true, but then, isn't it wonderful to imagine? There's nothing wrong with attaining to Lennon's vision, which will live in many hearts for eternity.