Apr. 25, 2003

I Love You Sweatheart

by Thomas Lux

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"I Love You Sweatheart," by Thomas Lux from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995 (Houghton Mifflin Co.).

I Love You Sweatheart

A man risked his life to write the words.
A man hung upside down (an idiot friend
holding his legs?) with spray paint
to write the words on a girder fifty feet above
a highway. And his beloved,
the next morning driving to work…?
His words are not (meant to be) so unique.
Does she recognize his handwriting?
Did he hint to her at her doorstep the night before
of "something special, darling, tomorrow"?
And did he call her at work
expecting her to faint with delight
at his celebration of her, his passion, his risk?
She will know I love her now,
the world will know my love for her!
A man risked his life to write the words.
Love is like this at the bone, we hope, love
is like this, Sweetheart, all sore and dumb
and dangerous, ignited, blessed - always,
regardless, no exceptions,
always in blazing matters like these: blessed.

Literary Notes:

On this day in 1953, American scientist James Watson and British geneticist Francis Crick proposed the double helix chemical structure for deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. Their finding revolutionized the study of genetics by mapping out the basic biological building blocks of human beings. The two strands of the DNA double helix separate during cell division and reproduce identical counterparts, allowing the basic DNA sequence to remain the same. In the mid 1980s, the government started the Human Genome Project, an ambitious effort to map out the basic DNA sequence of the human genome. Scientists have discovered the genetic causes of many medical problems, including cancer and heart disease; anthropologists have traced the migrations of the human species around the globe using DNA; and since each person has a different DNA sequence, "DNA fingerprinting" can be used to identify people and has often been used in criminal court cases.

It's the birthday of Oliver Cromwell, born in Hutingdonshire, England in 1599. He was a devout Puritan and lived a relatively quiet life for his first forty years, taking part only in local politics. But in 1642, he became a lieutenant-general for the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, despite having no previous military experience. He was a shrewd officer and a natural leader, and soon held a lot of clout among his peers in the war. He earned the nickname "Ironsides." He played an important role in the execution of Charles I in 1649, and then left for Ireland to quell a Catholic revolt. He massacred thousands of peasants and forced thousands more from their homes to the barren west coast, calling the invasion "a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches." In 1653, he became lord protector of the Commonwealth, becoming the only person to ever have been the head of state of a republican Great Britain. Under his five-year rule, England saw unprecedented religious toleration, military success, and foreign diplomacy.

It's the birthday of Howard Garis, born in Binghamton, New York in 1873, creator of the pink-nosed elderly gentleman rabbit character named Uncle Wiggily. He published an Uncle Wiggily story in the Newark News six days a week for 37 years. In addition to the Uncle Wiggily series, he wrote about 500 books for young adults.

It's the birthday of American novelist Padgett Powell, born in Gainesville, Florida in 1952. He's the author of several short stories and five novels, including Edisto (1984) and Aliens of Affection (1998).

It's the birthday of the "First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald, born in Newport News, Virginia in 1918. She is widely considered to be the greatest jazz singer ever, and one of the best singers in all of twentieth century music. Ella Fitzgerald loved to sing and dance as a child and when she was sixteen she entered a contest at the Apollo Theater, at that time no more than a hip local club in Harlem. She had a dance routine worked out and walked on stage wearing ragged clothes and men's boots, but she froze up. The director said, "Well, you're out here, do something!" So she tried to sing. She won the contest and soon became a celebrity across all of New York. She had to deal with racial prejudice her entire career, especially in the South. Marilyn Monroe was one of Ella's biggest fans. She said, "I owe Marilyn a real debt. It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the '50s. Marilyn personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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