It’s a refrain from a song about war, the most powerful line I’ve heard or read about war, a soldier speaking from a place of fear ‘I might get home if I can live through today’, the narrator is in danger in a hostile place. It’s from the song ‘Dad’s gonna kill me’, that’s Baghdad he’s referring to. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, it was used on a tv show, Sons of Anarchy, the background song to a bloody street fight, the makers of the show were careful to ensure that bullets were fired loudly over the line ‘at least we’re winning on the Fox Evening News’. I’ve got nothing interesting to say about war, though I think about it a lot, I can only really talk about words. Words amaze me, the four above are nothing, their arrangement is nothing special, no great music or sound or anything much there at all, simple and unadorned, not a metaphor in sight, but I’ve loved those words more than any I’ve read all year, not one poem I’ve read has made me think and feel in the way they have. I wish I’d written them. Weird really.
It makes me wonder about words, and about how some of them get you and others just don’t. I’ve got a theory about the poem (song, film, tv or anything else where words are power), and the theory is that if you invest those genres with a human quality that separate those that work from those that don’t, it’s charisma. That amazing quality that hardly anyone possesses and I think sadly that few poems really possess in their entirety, maybe a line or two here and there at best. But when you read a charismatic poem you really know about it because it hits you, it moves you and it stays with you (irrespective of style or content). A charismatic person is someone who makes you feel that their attention is on you, that you matter more than they do. It seems that many poems do the exact opposite, so maybe it’s the poems that become about the reader in some way rather than about the poet, that have the best chance of exerting any kind of charismatic force over us. Easier said than done!