My mom and uncle both have the initials T.S. Last name Elliott. My grandfather’s favorite poet, I guess.
When I first started trying to read classics again after a long vacation from high school English and what I considered at the time to be boring, stuffy authors, I bought a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot. Two of my favorite people in the world are named after him, and I’d not read a single one of his poems. I highlighted this passage from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
For I have known them all already, known them all–
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room
So how should I presume?
The imagery of him measuring out his life in coffee spoons is powerful. I picture him standing before his morning coffee, lamenting. Words probably pouring through his head, trying to find the perfect way to say, “This is what life is like.”
The same way I do. The same way we all probably do in the privacy of our minds. Some of us are just crazy enough to sit down at a computer or notebook with our day’s coffee and try to capture those fleeting thoughts.
Slippery little fuckers.
My mom quoted it back to me recently in something she’s writing, and I started writing a list of mundane things I’ve measured my life with. Not a bad exercise if you’re looking for one today.
I tried to write a poem, and it sucks. I wish I could successfully capture the cadence of poetry, but I just can’t quite get there.
An example of my shitty, response poetry:
Around line three
this thought occurred to me
My dear T.S., with your poems so long
I’m beginning to think this is not really a love song.
Patients etherised upon the table,
One-night cheap hotels
of insidious intent.
Well that part sounds familiar…
All the women come and go
and we’re not talking of Michelangelo
But, we’re pretty good at complaining about that bitch Karen from work
I know that isn’t it.
that isn’t what you meant at all.
So how would I presume.
Oh yes, I’ve measured my life with coffee spoons
and the same fifteen pounds and calories consumed
I’ve measured life in success
In calendar years
in births, deaths, and countless tears
It all seems meaningless after close inspection
Should I live long enough to witness greatness at all
it would seem easier to then embrace its flicker
and when the eternal Footman shows up for me with a coat and his snicker
…would I really feel afraid?
Or would I feel relief at warnings I’ve heeded
Relieved we’re going somewhere a coat is needed?
And now the people come and go,
and say their favorite ninja turtle
And I know, that isn’t it
That isn’t what you meant at all.
More of this garbage exists in My Documents, but that’s all I’m posting today.
I guess my question today is, what are you measuring out your days with?
Likes, follows, and stats? Weeks pregnant, weeks or months your baby has been here on this earth (you get to switch back to years at age two I’ve discovered). Calories consumed? Miles logged? Resolutions you’ve already discarded? Birthdays? Hours sleep? 3 hour blocks of newborn time? Loves gained and lost? Queries submitted and rejected? Days until the weekend? Sunrises and sunsets you’ve seen or missed?
How do you feel about these measures?
Let’s hear it.