surinenglish

Erasing the benchmarks

Long ago, in the days before mobile phones, ordinary people could often be seen pottering about aimlessly or simply sitting and staring blankly into space. This rather quaint pastime was known as daydreaming and, to this day, I like to indulge as often as possible. Unfortunately, nowadays it can be quite disturbing for members of the general public to witness somebody not staring constantly at a handheld screen.

"Look! Look! He walks among us! The Bloke Without Phone! Run for the hills!"

One fine autumn day in Vancouver, Canada, twenty (very) odd years ago, I was pootling through town daydreaming, when I spied three or four verses of poetry scrawled on a bus stop bench in very small writing. Upon further squinting, I discovered it to be exquisitely beautiful, a yearning paean to love, loss and regret. "Lillian don't leave me.." it began and as I hotfooted it to my flat to fetch pen and paper, I imagined Lillian going to work that way each day, mulling over the possibility of remaining with the talented poet after all, in spite of his smelly feet and dandruff.

Then, disaster. In what must go down as the most efficient street cleaning service in history, I returned to find that the verses had been removed from the bench by over-zealous staff in the mere half hour I'd been absent. I was genuinely and deeply disappointed.

Being unable to remember anything more than the first line of the piece, I decided a few days later that the only saving grace might be to use that as inspiration for a song composition. Sometimes people will ask if I have a favourite lyric among all the wildly unsuccessful songs I've written. This one would be among the top three or four, I think, though it doesn't hold a candle to the original on the bus stop bench.

Anyway, I hope you like it.

Lillian don't leave me / Say you'll stand beside me / Fighting all the things I'm running from / Surely, somewhere in this silence /Somewhere deep inside them / Everybody knows what's going on.

Lillian don't tell me / There's a whole world waiting for me / And all I've got to do is ride my luck / God might say he loves a trier / But what if He's a liar / And the best a boy can do is give it up?

Did you lie awake? / Did you lie awake all summer?/ It's a little late to believe in star-crossed lovers / Did you lie awake? / Like I lay awake all summer long.

Lillian, I'm sorry / There's nothing left here for me / I only ever wanted to be free / But freedom got so lonely / It was only half the story / I put a poem on the street for you and me.