Farai un vers de dreit rein
—Guilhem IX (ca. 1070–1127)

I’ll make a song out of nothing at all.
It’s not about me or any living soul,
Nothing to do with lost youth or some doll
Or anything under the sun.
I dreamt it up last night behind the wheel
Waiting for the light to turn.

I have no clue how I came to be born.
I take no pleasure and I feel no pain.
I’m not a stranger and I’m not your friend.
What makes me tick is not my call—
Go ask the shadow that slipped on my skin
Out there beyond the pale.

I can’t be certain if I’m asleep or awake.
Somebody tell me and make it quick.
Sometimes it’s like my heart’s about to crack
From a wound with no name,
But you won’t hear a gripe out of this sad sack,
So help me Doubting Tom!

I’m sick to death and my nerves are shot,
But all I know is what I hear on the street.
I’m looking for a shrink who’ll set me straight,
But where to start?
If there’s a cure for what ails me—sweet.
If not, no big sweat.

I have a lover, but I don’t know her.
We’ve never even met. Why bother?
She’s done me no good, but no harm either
So far as I can tell—
She’s not a housewife or a homewrecker,
Call her what you will.

We’ve never hooked up, but I swear she’s the one.
I don’t get my hopes up, so she never lets me down.
When we’re not an item I get by just fine,
Don’t lose any sleep.
I’ve got another flame with charm to burn
And she’s just my type.

That’s my ditty—sweet nothings for no one.
I’ll inscribe it to a certain someone
Who’ll croon it to my silver-tongued twin
On the redeye to Lotusland
And back will come the key to my fortune
In an unknown hand.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 Number 8, on page 37
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