Nothing to Say

Author’s note: Carly Simon asks in the song Angel from Montgomery (written by John Prine): “How the hell can a person go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, and have nothing to say?” The situation described by those lines is rather sad. But it occurs to me that there are many reasons why one might have “nothing to say.” This poem is an exploration of some of those reasons.

When the cubicle is empty,
There’s nothing to say.
When it’s too hard to speak
You may think
I’ve got nothing to say.

When what I want to say, I don’t want to discuss;
Or the time or place don’t fit the content,
I’ll stay my tongue,
And I’ll think,
“I’ve got nothing to say.”

When my head fills with warnings:
A seizure may be imminent!
To avoid a repeat
I’ll have to retreat;
Catch my breath,
Guard my driving privilege.

When saddened by news
Or burdensome views,
Unless you’re my spouse
Or have lived in the same house,
I’m a startled field mouse.

When I want to slow
The gushing blood flow
From the mark of Cupid’s arrow,
For reasons above,
Hand in black glove
Covers my mouth.

When a loved one is leaving,
My sighs are my lungs heaving,
I want to shout “don’t go”
Until my voice fills the sky;
But the sorrow I feel
Drains my brain
Until my words
Are no longer therein contained.

And when I just want to sit—
The landscape moon lit—
Enjoy the view for a bit,
Silence is a hit
If you’re in it.

©2015 H.K. Longmore

2 responses to “Nothing to Say

  1. Carly did not write that song. John Prine did.

    • Right you are, William. I’ll have to rewrite that author’s note. I find it amusing how many songs from the 50’s through the late 70’s (and maybe more?) were written by one artist and subsequently performed by others, muddying the waters about the original lyricist or composer. For example, a coworker and I were discussing who wrote The Gambler. He thought it was Kenny Rogers, I thought it was Johnny Cash. It turned out we were both wrong. It was Don Schlitz, who had released a recording of it, but his never did as well as Rogers’ version. Rogers and Cash each released an album in 1978 featuring The Gambler (Nov and Dec, respectively).

      My only exposure to Angel from Montgomery was through someone who was a huge fan of Carly Simon, and told details about events in Carly’s life that “explained why she wrote those lyrics.” Perhaps she identified with the lyrics and that is why she chose to record the song?

      Thanks for the correction.

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