“I’m so hard to handle/I’m selfish and I’m sad.” — Joni Mitchell, from Wish I Had a River.

I’ve always identified with Joni Mitchell, or rather with the person gleaned or imagined from the lyrics of Joni Mitchell. Before Joni Mitchell, I read into the songs of other artists, trying to figure out what was meant by an obscure reference. How did it apply to my teenaged life? But with Joni Mitchell songs, there seemed to be no need for wondering. The stories she told were clear. It was easy to know what she meant.  Of course, now I know that what she “meant” was to tell a story from her own perspective, facts reimagined, people and places changed. That’s the fun of it. To make something truer than true. Or distort the world until it reflects what you need it to.

Still, at the bottom of it, beneath the words, the story, the melodies, there is the message being sent into the world:

“Help me, I think I’m falling.”

Or my own song: “fell and fell and fell into the loneliness.”

Today thoughts and feelings transmit themselves directly into the winter air. Don’t need a vessel to deliver them. Tears fall caused only by the wind. Looking at the sky, I think of the atmosphere, trapped by gravity. Still, nothing’s changed.

“It was just a false alarm.”

Do you drown it in whiskey? I’m still sending prayers up into the yellow tree tops. Watching leaves drift to the ground. Every year I lose a little. The answers come quiet and always the same. Don’t want, don’t want, don’twant. Like air escaped from a balloon. I surrender. What choice is there? A boxing match with the wind?

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