It’s Me, Pearl. An Ode to Janis Joplin
It’s never me, it’s you,
except that it’s always me,
it has never not been me,
it has never not been some glaring inadequacy
when at my best, it was me, unintentionally,
making everyone else feel bad,
about whatever they weren’t,
because my own inadequacies were not enough
to be responsible for.
when at my worst, who would want this mess,
this confession of tears and human need?
it is some chasm I cannot cross,
some place in me that is never safe
that doesn’t trust love,
the love I long for,
because that hurt broke me,
because love was all, love is all
that makes all else worth while,
some piece of my heart,
that dies in every moment of not having a friend,
because it is me
because I expect something not quite so
and I don’t know how they do it,
pretending like they do, imaginary real friends
would be easier, they seem to say.
It is me,
because I see through things and cannot help it,
and it is me because
I would rather be alone and lonely for the right reasons,
than in a crowd for the wrong reasons.
it is me.
but you were always free,
otherwise what point would there be in it
if you stayed.
This poem was inspired by a story Patti Smith tells about Janis Joplin in the memoir, “Just Kids.” Janis spent the evening chatting this fellow up, thinking it was going rather well, only to have him go off with another. Apparently it wasn’t the first time that such a thing happened and Janis’ attitude about it was along the lines of that was kind of her luck, though obviously it still stung, the loneliness of it was palpable. The moral of that story might be don’t ever be too hard on yourself, sometimes even the biggest rock star in the world can’t get a beau.