mississippi river road path north
I didn’t have time to post my log entry yesterday so I’m posting it now. A decent run. My legs were pretty sore after running for over 90 minutes on Saturday. Having heard Britney Spear’s “Toxic” on the radio and remembering how I had put it on a playlist from 2012, I decided to add it to a playlist I’m using now. As usual, I put the music on shuffle and here’s what came up:
I Sing the Body Electric/Fame
The Jeffersons/Ja’net Dubois
Love Song/Sara Bareilles
Let’s Go Crazy/Prince
Body Count/Justin Timberlake
The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)/Hair
She’s A Bad Mama Jama/Carl Carlton
Last week I mentioned listening to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Looking up the lyrics for it, I’m struck by how few of them I had ever actually understood or paid attention to. I never realized he sang, “search for the purple banana” or “We’re all excited/But we don’t know why/Maybe it’s cause/We’re all gonna die.” At the beginning of the song he speaks: “Electric word, life” which makes me think of the first song I heard during my run: “I Sing the Body Electric.” This song is from the movie Fame and takes its title, I assume, and nothing else from the Walt Whitman poem of the same name.
I like this idea of the body as electric. As something charged with meaning and energy, exciting, alive. To be celebrated. To be used. To be used to experience and express joy. I’ve been working on a poem the past few days that speaks to this celebration of the body electric, although I haven’t been framing it that way. Maybe I should. Something doesn’t seem quite right about the poem so far:
The Joy of Running
The joy of running is not
an all out sprint,
from the imaginary monsters on the playground.
And it’s not focused aggression
mind calculating better splits and faster races.
The joy of running is
the confident grace
of a body that knows its value
and celebrates movement’s magic
gliding easily through the world.
One foot striking the ground and then the other
feeling the grit on the path
but not the mechanics of the motion.
This poem is a reaction to, and perhaps rejection of, the idea that to run joyfully is to run like you did as kid: a total spaz. It’s inspired by my deep appreciation for confident, graceful bodies moving fluidly and with little effort. And it’s an attempt to put into words my thoughts, started in this entry, about magic and the mechanics of walking.
I like Leaves of Grass–the parts of it that I’ve read. I should really read the whole thing carefully. Just now, I read “I Sing the Body Electric.” Intense, especially the section on the bodies of slaves at the auction. He concludes the poem with this celebration of various body parts:
excerpt from I Sing the Body Electric
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!
The body electric as the soul. I want to think about that some more.