Taking Notes

by Sam Rasnake

        When the lights shut off
        And it's my turn to settle down
        My main concern
        Promise that you will sing about me

                             — Kendrick Lamar, “Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst”


Promise that you will write about me

Promise that you will write about me

Promise me — promise me

Promise my words you won't forget my hand —

writing its story — my hand wrapped

against the pain I didn't even know was there —

deep in the tendons and bone — Promise

my voice that screams when no one's there,

no one to listen, no one to witness, no one

to give me their tears — I'm thirsty


Promise, promise that you will — Won't you? —

wrapped against the wound of too much

empty page and not enough story to leave behind,

and that is my aggravation — Pity that it's not more real,

not more human, not more necessary — If I didn't say

another word — no dreams would be lost — Nobody changes

who they are — I'm a blip on the blip of a blip — That's all —

Nothing more — That's my aggravation — too nothing

for the something — Promise me — I am thirsty —


Promise me — Please — that you won't forget the old with

the new — I'll be gone, yes, so promise you will write

about me, that you will bring the words that aren't tired yet —

bring words that can say something new — Promise me

my obituary telling won't be the end of it — I'm tired of

breathing, don't you know — If I only had a cup of water,

then my thirst would go away, would disappear — just

like my eyes, my voice, my hand — Promise that —

Promise that you — Promise that you will remember

all the unfortunate hurt and dream — that you'll write

about me even if the words are nothing since even

nothing is something — What's not said — What's

not written — Even the empty has its shape


Promise that you will say — when you write — all the truth

I never could — Promise me — Promise a mellow jazz

in the air to the empty chairs, to the empty hallway

where no one walks — Let the jazz play — Let John Coltrane

squeeze his unexplainable into my ear — when you read

the words to give me shape — words that Frankenstein all my

notions that are long gone — the kind of gone which can never

be filled no matter how much is said because the words are

always about, they never are — they're about the thing and not

the thing — but promise me any way — I'm thirsty — I'm tired —

No more running — No more pop, pop, pop on the keys


Promise that you will — no matter what, no matter where, no matter how

big the dark space between here and then — Promise me — That's all

I'm asking — a promise for a lost cause, my lost cause — Me —

I am the cause — I am the lost — There's no saving the silence —

no way to find when it's too far gone — And it is


Promise that you'll dream about me — that you'll say to the future, the one

which can never be — He was — Promise me — your pinkie, your

heart, your Mother in the grave — Promise me you'll dream

and write it down — then burn it at midnight —

Any midnight will do — If you don't write it,

it didn't happen — If you don't ,

write, I wasn't there — So

write it, then — Promise me


Promise you will write down this wrong — Write it, Elizabeth said — my

wrong — my bad — my sad eye which never closes — never

unsees — Promise you'll leave all the answers — even the ones

you don't have and never did — Promise me — I'm thirsty —

I don't care what you did or did not — don't care what

you thought or should not — There's no time

like a future past to save your soul —

It's real if you feel it — if you speak it


Promise that you will — There's no time — that

you will write about me, then

turn off the lights,

let the darkness finish,

let the music play on — play on — play on —