Library of Cultural References

  • Library: Cultural References in Poetry

I Met A Woman In A Joni Mitchell Song

[2007]

This Joni Mitchell inspired poem was found on the internet.

She's in People's Parties off Court and Spark.
The reference isn't that flattering. But, hey,

she's in a Joni Mitchell song. She brought it up
at the AGM of our Film Co-op.

The Director wanted to create some ambience
so put on some raw blues - Slim Lightning -

before the meeting began proper. To get a buzz
going and encourage mingling, I guess. Suddenly,

out of nowhere, she says - I just found this note
that was Junior Wells asking me to come and

live with him. I'd completely forgotten about
that time of my life.
I'm naturally nosey, so asked -

Did he write a song about you? She said - No, but Joni
Mitchell did
...Yeah, that's how it all got started.

She & Joni knew each other way back when in Toronto.
When Joni was poor she'd stay with this woman.

And when this woman was poor she'd stay with Joni.
They had an arrangement. And then one day it was clear

Joni was never going to be poor again.
NB: I can't use this woman's real name.

Not just because you'll google the song, but 'cause I know things
about her. We met in another life she doesn't remember.

When I was a Government Man. With a laminated ID
on a rope around my neck, a clipboard

and a few simple questions.
I didn't mean to become a lightning rod

for everyone's problems with authority.
But there's a lot of paranoia out there.

What with SPAM and identity fraud and cold-calling tele-marketers
who won't let you get a word in edgeways

while you're trying to eat your dinner, and change the baby
and blob out in front of the telly after a long day.

So you end up hanging up on them. And feeling bad
for some poor out-sourced young woman in India

trying to put herself through university. As if I don't feel bad enough
about the poor of India already. And we just wanted the information

to help decide how many firemen should be at the station
and whether there's enough bus stops in your area. That's all. Honest.

...Anyway, this woman in a Joni Mitchell song was no problem.
She opened right up right away. Told me she was a bankrupt.

Everyone knows everything about me - she said. I lost everything,
all my money, and maybe some other people's too. I have to declare

that whenever I do business now...It's one of my conditions.

She's a BM in the lingo - a Building Manager.

A Gatekeeper that you want to butter up
so you can get a foot in the door of all the other hold-outs.

The ones who're too lazy/anarchic/rich to answer
a few simple questions to help their country decide

what's best for them. But, like I said, this woman, she doesn't recall
me coming to her building. I'm out of context - Thank God.

But I remember her. I have a steel trap
mind and the memory of a cheese grater.

She was more of your standard sieve. I mean
how could anyone ever forget that Junior Wells

asked you to shack up with him?! Still, it was the Sixties...
But you want to know the really sad thing?

The sad thing is she'll never be at an AGM and blurt out
so that everyone can hear above the music

Hey, I'm in a David Geary poem.
I'd totally forgot that part of my life.

About this author (from the Contributors page of TURBINE 07):

David Geary is a big Joni Mitchell fan. His favourite album is Blue. His favourite Joni song is Furry Sings the Blues. Joni's cover art for the gatefold sleeve of The Hissing of Summer Lawns is some of the best ever. However, David Crosby described Joni as 'about as humble as Mussolini'. She has described contemporary music as 'appallingly sick, with boring chord movements and bad acting'. And slagged off Sting, Alanis Morrisette and Sheryl Crow. David Geary doesn't think this is helping.

David will be the writer in residence at Victoria University for 2008. He thinks Herbie Hancock's new album of Joni covers, River - The Joni Letters, could become the soundtrack of the year. Herbie is a Nichiren Buddhist. David has flirted with this path and occasionally chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to quiet his monkey brain.

(Contributed by Laura Oppermann)

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