All posts by Keelin Billue

Chicago-based writer by way of Alabama, New Orleans, and Nashville. Writes primarily about music, sports (sort of), and the topics that piss people off at work and family holidays.

“Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines” by Pablo Neruda, read by Tom O’Bedlam

I wanted to share one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, the amazing Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda (seriously, read his Wiki).

A former boyfriend gifted me with 20 Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada which, in retrospect, was a pretty thoughtful gift from an 18/19 year old boy. I’m not sure how my heart didn’t explode, and I hope the youths are still sharing these kinds of beautiful gifts. Anyway, the gift of Neruda has stood the test of time both physically and mentally. I often revisit Neruda even though reading him takes a specific level of vulnerability.

I recently stumbled upon this very sentimental video with a velvety reading of Poema 20 a.k.a “Tonight I can Write”, and I had to share it:

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, “The night is starry
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.”

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.
(Trans. W.S. Merwin)


The original:
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Escribir, por ejemplo: “La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos”.

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oir la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos
árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis
brazos,
mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.

Great American Drunk: George Jones, ‘The Possum’

There is nothing like a good drunk story, and luckily, there is no shortage of drunk celebrities to provide those.

Enter the rich-voiced country singer and songwriter George Jones. Known as ‘The Possum’ because of his beady little eyes and long nose, he was so devastated by alcoholism, he was in and out of medical treatment the majority of his life. Additionally, he was often so sauced he wouldn’t show up for concerts which earned him the name: ‘No Show Jones’.

One of my favorite George Jones song is “The Race is On”. Here is an early live performance where The Possum is very obviously hammered.

Even hammered, he sounds great. I think I’ve pointed out in another post that Charley Crockett also does a great cover of “The Race is On”, but I still prefer the original. Even this drunk version.

While we have no shortage of vids of drunken celebrities now, pre-Internet and smart device society made it more difficult to have access to these exploits. However, that are plenty of tales of The Possum’s drunkness as well as videos like the one I posted below.

While The Possum’s exploits are entertaining, reading about the length of his alcoholism and the issues it caused for himself and those who worked with him and loved him is heartbreaking.

Here is a short list of more infamous drunken or drugged up George Jones incidents:

  • Drove a lawnmower to the liquor store (more than once) after his car keys were taken away.
  • Flipped over a table at after future wife Tammy Wynette‘s second husband called Tammy Wynette a “son of a bitch” (I actually don’t know if he was drunk during this, but it’s a pretty crazy story, regardless).
  • Checked into a neurological unit of a hospital to get treatment for drinking problems
  • Was committed to a psych unit (in a strait jacket) more than once delusions caused by alcoholism
  • Allegedly shot at Tammy Wynette with a shot gun and beat her (alleged by Tammy Wynette)
  • Shot at a friend and almost hit them while drunk
  • Started doing cocaine
  • Missed shows; garnered lawsuits
  • Didn’t pay child support
  • Was homeless and living in a car
  • Lost weight to the point he was under 100 lbs.
  • Wrecked his finances
  • Wrecked multiple vehicles
  • His daughter got kidnapped because of his issues with drug dealers
  • In 1999, had his last drunken car crash and pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. If you’re not counting at home…that’s at least roughly 34 years of being an alcoholic.

After that list, Mississippi girl Tammy Wynette is going to get her own post on this blog because she seems like the kind of person who makes me want to believe in heaven. She was down here as an Earth Angel, cleaning up some stuff and doing her own suffering, before God called her up, rather early at age 55, to the big leagues.

So after all of this, I feel like I would dislike George Jones. However, he appeared to be a very troubled man with many vices that needed serious help and at times, couldn’t be helped. Luckily, he appears to have cleaned up for over a decade before passing away in at the surprisingly ripe old age 81 in April 2013.

There is plenty more I could write about the man as he is a legend and, from what it appears, despite being afflicted with a terrible disease, had plenty of good intentions and a good heart. By all accounts, I’ve read he was sheepish and self-deprecating when it came to recounting his issues with drugs and alcohol. He certainly left us with some entertaining stories as well as cautionary tales (why not both?).

“For women who are ‘difficult’ to love.” by Warsan Shire

I wanted to share something a little different today.

Specifically, I want to share a poem by Warsan Shire. She is a contemporary poet and a fantastic poet in general. Her spoken word poem “For women who are ‘difficult’ to love.” is one that a friend shared a few years ago and has stayed with me over the years. There are several fan-made videos that try to capture the feel of Warsan’s spoken word recording, but this is my favorite:

There are many poems and songs about heartbreak, but there are few that capture the feeling of simply being too much.


There are a lot of other contemporary poets I have been following lately. Here is the short list:

Rudy Francisco
Neil Hilborn
Ross Gay
Porsha Olayiwola
Olivia Gatwood

It is truly refreshing to hear an intersectional set of generational peers speak with conviction after the past few months and years.

“Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” and “Love is Not Enough” by Wet

In 2013 and 2014, I was working in music and constantly being introduced to a slew of music– it was literally my job. Perhaps it was the timing, but many of my favorite performers from that time period are indie pop and indie rock bands: Dum Dum Girls, War Paint, and Wet.

Over time, Wet’s tracks from their self-tiled extended play and the tracks from their 2016 full length album Don’t You have stood the test of time. The track I posted above is called “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”, and the lyrics are as you’d expect: I’ve reached the end of the rope, and I don’t want to be your girl no more. This song will serve as your bff for the message you need to deliver.


On paper, the lyrics might sound aggressive or like they could placed into a fast pace pop anthem. However, Wet has a very relaxing sound with lots of synth and harmonies that feel like they might bring me to tears at times. If I didn’t know the lyrics, they almost sound holy at times.

I loved the single in 2014, but I remember thinking “How can they possibly replicate this brilliance into so many songs?”. Spoiler: they did.

“Love is Not Enough” is another release by Wet. I am not sure what your reaction will be, but this song touches me so deeply, I can only listen to it so often.

The lyrics have an intended meaning that I overlook because every time I hear this song, it reminds me of an article by Mark Manson titled “Love is Not Enough“. The song fits the sentiment of the article if you’ve ever been on the downward trending side of love not being enough.

However, “Love is Not Enough”, the song, also says “Don’t let them tell you, love is not enough.” Like many things in life, there are gray areas or situational differences. In what situation and when is love not enough for or is it enough for?

As a practical person in the business of compartmentalizing, I think, on the day-to-day, love is not enough. Maybe people who read this will think I am a total Debby Downer. Put away your pitchforks, boys. This day-to-day existence is way more special and honorable than what we think of as romantic love. If someone is willing to return to the nest and take part in your active aging, farting, burping, and other joys of being a biological lifeform with an overactive piece of slowly failing CPU, that’s truly a testament to a bond.

However, in the greater sense of life [the big moments], I do think we see and feel love is very much enough, and it is up to us on how we leverage that to set people free.

No ‘But’s for Black America

EDITOR’S NOTE (2 June 2020): I am adding some resources for #Blackout Tuesday. I love the idea of raising awareness and showing your support for PoC via social media. However, this is not a one day fight. For this to work, we have to do things. Post that you did them. Don’t post. I don’t care! Just do them. FIND RESOURCES HERE.


I am having difficulty eloquently conveying my thoughts or expressing them with enough gravitas during this time in the U.S. Additionally, I am white and don’t really want to speak over PoC voices.

George Floyd, a black man who was unemployed as a result of COVID-19, was murdered by a police officer as other police officers looked on. All over a counterfeit $20 bill. He cried out for his mama as he died. If that doesn’t make you think something has to change, I can pull a list of thousands of other people who have been murdered by current and former police.

No one– whether they are good, bad, a criminal, a saint, or otherwise– should receive a death sentence at the hands of the police. End of the story.

Could you be black in America? I don’t think many of us that aren’t would last long at all.

This conversation should be a mic drop. America has played this game of dominoes with black Americans for 400 years, and no one should be shocked or surprised this is occurring. There will be many innocent bystanders, and I hope people will consider that a lot of the rioting and looting is at the hands of outside actors, possibly actors who are against the main cause. Don’t take it out on People of Color. Take it out on who you vote for as they are ultimately the ones that can fix this.

Legislative action came swiftly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the riots that followed. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can expect that level of action as we have a large Christmas ham and goons in office. But this will be a time for great patience, withholding of judgement, and sympathy as we push forward to lend a hand to friends who need support most right now.

Please….whatever you do, don’t forget to vote.

“Welcome to Hard Times” by Charley Crockett

While I’m losing my shows, there is a slew of new alt country coming out the last few months. Orville Peck released a new single a few weeks ago with another release planned this week. Emily Nenni, whose song “I Owe You Nuthin'” I discussed in a previous post, also released a new album.

Now we can add 😍Charley Crockett😍 to the list of performers with new music with his new single “Welcome to Hard Times”, which is honestly vibes for the whole world right now.

Charley, as I mentioned in my post discussing intersectionality in country music, knows hard times. Just a little over a year ago he had heart surgery to replace a valve used to correct a congenital heart defect. Before that he was leading quite an exciting life in general.

I was reading this article about the new single and album, and Charley said something that really stood out to me:

“This record is for the folks who feel like everything is fixed,” Crockett says of the new album, “If you think you’re playing a rigged game, you’re right. If it seems like all the cards are marked in advance, they are. But you still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded.”

You still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded, indeed. I think in these times for the world and for me personally, those are words to walk with. It doesn’t matter what hand we’re dealt, the world keeps turning and we can keep walking or, as Charley put it, roll the dice knowing failure is ahead. Then try again.

Charley’s musing reminds me of something my favorite Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Trials and failures are inevitable. In both times of reward and challenge, we should expect trials and failures and, better yet, welcome them.

P.S. This new WordPress editor is my latest trial and so far, failure. 🙂 Pardon any errors while I am re-learning the editor.