Breakup Diorama, Decor, Mind
Comment 1

[BREAK-UP DIORAMA I] Bedroom / ‘Visions of Johanna’

What, pray tell, is this? Read the Museum Plaque Introduction»

Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet ?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it
Bob Dylan, ‘Visions of Johanna‘ (Blonde On Blonde)


[Figure i: Overview. She remembers that last night here, which was not the last night here, not by a long shot, but that last of the long lonely nights waiting for Godot, or him, as it was. It was the night she had decided. And when such a thing has been decided it was decided. It was over. She just needed to say the words. And when she did, he shrugged. It was decided. She just needed to say the words.]

Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.


[Figure ii: The bed. She bought the duvet cover first. Few even know what a duvet cover is, but she stalked them, hoping to cop a feel of the fabric and a peek at a sale tag. Macy’s should’ve filed a restraining order. This Calvin Klein ‘spread was marked down from $400 to $125. Still spendy, but it never collected cat hair—and it set the tone for a color scheme. She sprung a lady boner for color schemes. So when she left for good, she left the duvet cover. How could she separate the color scheme from its source? It seemed cruel. Unusual. But leaving it behind hurt more. The duvet cover proved to be too intimate, too close to her, too skin-like. So she took it back. She realized no one else cares this deeply about color schemes. Then she realized it could now sleep with any gorgeous color scheme it wanted. So long as it was on her bed.]

Louise she’s all right she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.


[Figure iii: Surprise?! She painted and redecorated his room while he was away on a gig, about six months into the relationship. She just wanted one room in his house that she felt comfortable in. She spent $500 total (including the duvet cover). It seemed excessive, and against her cheap code, but it also felt worth it. For instance, the mirror that once hung in his Studio matched the color scheme perfectly. That’s fate, right? He did seem surprised, even pleasantly so, and humored her descriptions of each decor whats-it. They then tried to make love but his roommate got annoyed. Small victories.]

Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me


[Figure v: Hats off. He wore a lot of hats. She often wore his hats. They had exactly the same sized head. Big. He played gigs and he played games and he stayed out late and late and late chasing some combination of the two. In the end, she stopped sitting at so many gigs and she stopped staying out so very late and she quit playing most of the games (including their standbys, Scrabble and foosball). They both knew deep down this meant something was seriously wrong with something. The nights wore on forever.]

He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall
How can I explain?

Oh, it’s so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn


[Figure iv: Two robes hanging. She now wonders if she forced the whole story, like she forced that bedroom into being right for her. Even possibly against the real will of the person it belonged to. Even possibly against the knowledge of her real desires. It’s easy to buy two overpriced antique-looking hooks from Anthropologie, hang two vintage robes on them, and exist for years on that thread. Slowly unraveling.]

Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles

See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees”

Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel


[Figure vi: The unsexy Cs. When she first saw his room, the Cs ruled. Not the naughty-bit ones you’d hope for, that typically get bleeped out on network television, but the ones you might find on an episode of Hoarders. Cats and clothes. Clothes all over the floor. Clothes in plastic bins with no tops on them atop spartan metal shelving units. With cats in them. She and he spent an evening sorting through the oversized, outdated, and tragically 80s, eventually reducing his clothing pile by half, while keeping the cats. She got a huge hamper for $20 at Ross Dress For Less that still smelled like sweet cedar 5 years later. His dad helped him design and build the dresser. She and he then painted it, dubbing it garcon boudoir. The cats still slept in there, but more contained. She bought the flyover mirrors during the put-a-bird-on-it craze. She filled her life with reflective surfaces. Fly away, birds.]

The peddler now speaks to the countess who’s pretending to care for him
Saying, “Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him”
But like Louise always says
“Ya can’t look at much, can ya man “
As she, herself prepares for him


[Figure vii: The window. She picked out a fabric to match the duvet cover that had a texture to it that would be interesting to look at when light shone through it. Then her mom sewed the rectangular curtains. The curtain rods were $20 each but Umbra spring loaded, and that seemed dude bedroom appropriate. Though she knew he and she might not last, she always thought that if and when they broke up, all this decor stuff would be her gift to him. No strings. It gave her such pleasure. And what did it really mean? Until it came to symbolize all that she left behind, at such personal cost, and became a springboard for him to move on. Everything seemed so different from the outside looking in.]

And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes everything’s been returned which was owed
While my conscience explodes


[Figure viii: Two, growing apart. He never really liked Bob Dylan, even when he reluctantly grew to tolerate Bob Dylan. Especially the absurd lyrics, and the harmonica (god the harmonica). They grated his ear. But she somehow still unearths some bizarre blazing truth in even Dylan’s strangest turns of phrase. Especially during the breakup, the harmonica solos spoke directly to her soul. In the end, they each played music the other one couldn’t stand to listen to. They just needed to turn each other off.]

The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain.

1 Comment

  1. Reader says

    Very good post. From a possibly lesser, more didactic, poet:

    I’m going to break the cycle
    I’m going to shake up the system
    I’m gonna destroy my ego
    I’m gonna avoid my the cliché
    I’m gonna suspend my senses
    I’m gonna delay my pleasure

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