Self Portrait began in a poetry writing marathon online in which several of us were writing back and forth to each other in a conversational way, as though sharing our experiences and how we came to be who we are. I was attempting to contrast self-presentation versus I am, social standing versus compassion, relatives versus family, and religion versus God.

The ending; "I can see your face" is from my favorite C.S. Lewis book: Till We Have Faces. The book is a retelling of an ancient myth. Lewis's take was that life is a class on how to see God. For the believing and grateful, the class is quick, for the unbelieving and ungrateful it is long and painful.

The song is one of my own personal favorites.


first or second capo

  G                    C        G               D7
I was dressed—dressed to a T, whatever the heck that might mean.

G                  C         G         D7    G
To me it means, no one could see who I really was.

C                       G             C                          G         D7       G
I looked like a smart, pensive child, lost in a crowd of so much style,and wishful thinking.


G             C                      G             D7
I was laughing—mirth like a drunk. It didn’t mean I had no funk,

G                    C           G      D7     G
It meant I couldn’t let you know how I really felt.

C                          G         C                    G        D7        G
So I laughed, added to the sound of other giddy grievers ‘round, denying my wounds.


G                C                 G              D7
I was seeing—like ne’er before— the truth, like an awaited shore

G                    C               G     D7    G
After months of dry death at sea, I drank in the sight.

C                            G         C                       G          D7        G
My legs had forgott’n how to stand. I learned there who I was again, and, oh! the relief.


G                  C                 G           D7
I was crying—wept like a God whose creation had gone to laud

G        C                G     D7       G
Another created being. I just couldn’t stop

C                     G           C                        G         D7       G
And dry my tears for all the pain over the loss —something gained; alone, but awake.


G              C                      G                D7
I was singing, sang from my soul, like lightening leads thunder to roll

G                      C            G    D7     G
Filling cold air with resonance: one passionate call.

C                 G                     C                         G          D7         G
Burning from the heat of the blast, but glad—glad to shout it at last: I can see your face!


G       C                       C       D7     G
Ah-ah, oh-oh! Ah-ah, oh-oh! Ah-ah, oh, ah-oh, ah-oh!