Jim Carroll was a poet, author, and musician, known in popular culture (mostly) for writing the memoir, The Basketball Diaries. Leonardo DiCaprio played the adolescent Carroll in the film adaptation. I found one of Carroll’s books of poetry, Living at the Movies, at a used bookstore. The book includes a poem that was featured in The Basketball Diaries, called Little Ode on St. Anne’s Day. It goes:
You’re growing up
and rain sort of remains
on the branches of a tree
that will someday rule the earth.
and that’s good
that there’s rain
It clears the month
of your sorry rainbow expressions
and clears the streets
of the silent armies…
so we can dance
Really, I don’t ever think about Jim Carroll that much.
Yet, for some reason, Little Ode on St. Anne’s Day is the only poem that I’ve ever memorized by heart, and I have unconsciously, almost arbitrarily brought Living at the Movies with me to every apartment I’ve lived at in the past five years. Maybe it’s the simple imagery and youthful confidence; maybe the poem just found me in the right place, at the right time. Rereading it now, I’m compelled to respond to Jim, for no particular reason:
If everything is wrong, everything is also right.
and you see the world through
everyone’s eyes but your own.
How would your city eyes have seen the suburbs,
old trees that learn the hard way they’ll never
rule the earth?
But that kid in the distance,
playing basketball alone, just might.