Poetry for Life: Hero’s Poetry Journey, week 4
FEAT: Daisy Jones and The Six and Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard”
Over at Poetry for Life, we are traveling the Hero’s Poetry Journey, along the path of motherhood. Usually in this space, I write a motherhood haiku. But since this week’s poem by A.E. Stallings, “Listening to Peter and the Wolf with Jason, Aged 3,” is about music, I had to write something musically related.
One of my favorite novels of late is Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and The Six, about a fictional ’70s rock band. The book has been made into an Amazon series, and one Thursday morning, while listening to the song “Look at Us Now (Honeycomb),” I knew that, for me, the song is about more than the tumultuous relationship between Daisy and Billy. The song is also a perfect description of my journey of motherhood.
A bit of background: After getting clean and sober, Billy writes “Honeycomb” for his wife, Camila. He means for it to be about starting over. Daisy has no interest in singing a love song to Billy’s wife, so she rewrites it, making it more honest and complicated. It’s the band’s first #1 hit.
This May, in honor of Mother’s Day, I decided learn one of my favorite poems by heart: Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard.” The word “lanyard” is repeated nine times. I realized I could repeat the word “honeycomb,” which happens to be the name of the street I grew up on. Several of the lines in my poem are right out of the Honeycomb song, written by Blake Mills, Jason Boesal, Stephony Smith, Jonathan Rice, and Marcus Mumford. (Their lines are italicized below, and do not in appear in song order.) Thank you, kind folks, for helping me take a better, clearer, more sober look at us now.
The other day I was driving recklessly
through the dark streets of our town,
turning without a blinker,
waiting for stop signs to turn green,
when the algorithms gifted me the song
“Look at Us Now,” aka “Honeycomb.”
No guitar riff from any rock band, real or imagined,
could steer me into the truth more suddenly–
the truth that the song I turn up
is not that kind of a love story,
but a love story of honeycomb, our family.
I have touched smooth, hole-filled honeycomb,
have lugged it into our garden, for a border,
and prayed we could get it all back,
bury our regrets in this shallow soil
start a new life
surrounded by this honeycomb.
We let them down as parents
and offered only this honeycomb.
We talked redemption over breakfast,
preached salvation every Sunday —
meant it, really meant it —
but we can make a good thing bad
and sing in destructive harmony
about our solid home, our honeycomb.
The guitar sped up fast, the drums kicked in,
and the keyboardist banged out chords:
Here is your honecomb, they yelled,
and the bass wailed along:
Do you know who you are?
We unraveled a long time ago.
We lost and we couldn’t let it go.
But how, we asked can a honeycomb unravel?
And how, we ask now,
How did we get here?
How do we get out?
You’ve been crying in the dark
all of us – about our honeycomb –
this thing we’ve been doin
ain’t workin out, admit it to me.
We used to be something to see.
– Megan Willome (with a little help from the songwriters)
P.S. The series is so well done, except for the final episode, which in my opinion, ruins what may be my all-time favorite book ending. I highly recommend the audio version of the book, which has different actors for every member of the band and for the rock journalist writing their story.
“Megan Willome has captured the essence of crow in this delightful children’s collection. Not only do the poems introduce the reader to the unusual habits and nature of this bird, but also different forms of poetry as well.”
—Michelle Ortega, poet and children’s speech pathologist