Monthly Archives: November 2017

Rehearsals, Practices, And Dry Runs

I have ended my world
countless times in my head,

so often and so completely
that to walk into the sunshine
of a November day 
feels the same as crawling
through the heat of July: 

the former is the aftermath,
the world become a table
swept clean in anger;
the latter is a memory of 
a solo holocaust,
and of how I burned.

In my head I’ve ended my world
so many times in so many ways
that I can tell you how to use
any of fifteen easily acquired items
from kitchen or bath to bring about
your personal apocalypse
without even consulting a list.

It has become so normal,
I barely bother with being alive any more.

So when the world feels like it does today,
when it feels like I needn’t work hard
to end my world –when it feels like
all I have to do is speak out loud
of who I am and what I believe,

or just silently be myself
while someone in anger and fear

puts the gun or knife
or bomb or fire to me
for that alone — 

I see it as the next turn
in the game I’ve played
over and over for most of my life
and I can say that
whatever the way forward,
whether it leaves me dead or alive
I’ve been there before,

and I can work with it.

To Sit By The River

Given the nature of
martyrdom and how it
leaves a piercing where
a person once was,
I shall choose instead
to sit by the river and 
be whole. 

Given the nature of
soldiering and how in
the fog of war a soldier
moves from aiming at
an enemy to simply 
trying not to be one,
I shall choose instead
to sit by the river and
be whole.

Given the nature of
being here and part of
the Machine Of The End,
no matter how much one
tries to step away from
it and make it stop,
I shall choose instead
to sit by the river and,

unable to be whole,
at least become still
and less present for
my role as a cog. 

Three Chords And the Truth

The problem with
three chords and the truth
is always that third chord

When the first one
lays it right out there
where anyone can see it

and the second one 
simply points
at what the first one did

why do you need one more
when all it does
is nods at the first two

and brings you
right back
to them again

Maybe it’s in
the nature of truth
that we find the answer

that it’s not as much about
how three chords fill the void
better than one or two

than it is about
which three chords you choose
to carry which truths

You reach out endlessly
for the right ones
with two or three fingers

on keys or strings
and end up hearing either outright lies
or mere cartoons of that truth

and then you reach out again
and this time you find
a truth you weren’t expecting

which you follow and
there you go with those chords
and that truth 

but the one you started with
gets away and one day
you come back to it

and stare at it and say
was this ever true
You puzzle out three new chords

and try to answer that
until one day that truth
blares out of a car radio

flying in on three chords
you never even considered
and it’s a hit and you shake your head

at how simple it should have been
to do this and then
you crank it up

regretting nothing
of how this mystery passed you by
as you shout and you sing 

and try to figure out
that third chord
that was the key you never found

A Pop Song

I wanna write a pop song
For half the world to love
Wanna write a pop song
The other half can loathe

Wanna write a pop song
That lifts an easy load
A pop song
A pop song
That takes a simple road

No one cares for pop songs
The way they used to
When the words and music shook the earth
Out from under you

Wanna write one like a fast machine
That rolls out over the air
Runs over all that came before it
Feels like it was always there

Wanna write a pop song
Like the ones that came before
A pop song
A pop song
Like no one’s heard before

Wanna write a pop song
Don’t care if it doesn’t sell
A pop song 
A pop song
From one hit wonder hell

A pop song like a small machine
That floats across your ears
Sticks there till the next one comes
Then disappears for years

Although no one cares for pop songs
The way they used to
Words and music that shook the earth
Out from under you

Maybe that’s just me
Maybe I’m just old and tired
Maybe some still feel this way
Maybe some still get inspired

By a pop song

The Settler

Curtain up.
A lone figure stands 
stage left. 

At once, you
begin classifying: 
Male. White.
Fat. Old. 
Badly dressed,
and so on.

Maybe you’re wrong?
Who cares?
What you don’t know can’t
hurt you as long as you
are just watching, after all.

What you don’t know
shouldn’t trouble you.
You paid to get here.
You paid for the privilege
of deciding plot and character, 
set and theme…

The scene turns.
You see that it was all done
with complicated lighting:

he’s not white;
those clothes
are better than you thought;
you’re clearly projecting discomfort 
where there is none —
he seems completely at ease,
looking right at you without a word.

You’re pissed off — after all
you pay the players’s to play,
and if they aren’t playing 
what you paid for or thought 
you were paying for,
that has to be on them.
That has to be a mistake.

They don’t seem to be playing.

No wonder
you’re shifting in your seat.

You are completely
unsettled after you thought
your settling was over
and done with

and there’s no indication
from the action on stage
when the curtain
will be coming down.


In a box
I made I keep
the work of 
my whole life: how
to be this divided
self, how to speak of it,
how to stay alive
this way. I keep
my races and my bad
brain in there and
the sticky moods and
how I don’t want to look
at any of it very often.

In my self-made box
I keep stars and 
scars and every ink-bitten
mistake and triumph and
triumph over a mistake.
Sometimes I have to
crush down what I put in 
before but it’s all in there,
I promise. Well, 

someone kicked it
and a side split. Someone
kicked my self-box and
now it’s not holding

and when I come
out of it, when I spill
out of that opened
corner, what may come

might be the new stuff
up top or maybe the 
very oldest, that which has been
crushed down and down and
compacted for long years

and some of those triumphs
look now like mistakes
or are so pressed into
one another that 
they might ignite when exposed
to the new light and
I can’t tell you what
is going to happen, 

other than that 
what’s spilling out
is possibly ugly and 
if it burns it may burn
toxic and if the box
goes too we’ll both
see me for real
in the open at last.

Inside my self-box
late at night, early
in the morning, I stare
into the world through
the now-fractured corner
and it looks like
a slot canyon, a space
between walls or bars.
It looks straight
and narrow. 
it’s better in here
than out there.

Seated Before The Mess

After all these years
thrashing my way through
every possible situation
and screaming at the floors, walls,
doors, and windows
when I couldn’t do
what was needed,

you’d think I would
understand how little 
I’ve done that worked
when done at top volume 
and frantic action, yet when given
one more chance to be still and
possibly effective for once in my
increasingly mockable life

I fucked up and broke 
more than silence with clumsy
blows and motions.

Now, I could sit back
from the wreckage and 
excuse and stammer and 
point at how I got here and 
what I was trying to do,
what I intended to do, but

to be honest, 
it doesn’t matter
and never did.

So what now? 

The Five Seasons

One week from tonight
we’ll be deep into 
the Season Of What Else
Could Possibly Happen

We’ll be shaking our heads
and staring out the window
at something coming to pass
we never imagined

because our imaginations
have been limited
by the Season Of
It Can’t Happen Here

One year from tonight
we’ll be shaking our heads
at the Season Of
How Is This Happening

even as some folks
shake their heads at us
shaking our heads as if
anything happening is

unprecendented and
could not have been foreseen
As if all the seasons before this
were not the Seasons

Of How The Hell
Can You Not
Be Seeing What Is
Right Under Your Noses

and How Is It
That You Cannot See
Yourselves In Such 
A Mirror As This One

A Bowl Of Strawberries

Right now, 
somewhere not here,
there must be
a bowl of strawberries.
If they were here

I’d split them with you —

all I want is the tips.

You can have the rest
as long as

I can feel the
gentle rasp of each point
when I push my tongue
across them all
one by one

and then 
consume each tiny peak
slowly, individually.

can eat them as you wish:
forkfuls, spoonfuls,
handfuls at a time;

soak them down in nectar
or powder them with sugar
from crimson down to pink
before you begin;

they’re yours now,
do as you want, take
your own particular
pleasure in them;

I will as always
eat mine straight 
and pure without

slight bitter
under sweet,
sharp as the knowledge
that what I gave
was just as good
as what I held,

and both of us were satisfied.

Our Nation Is A Concert Hall

The acoustics in this place
are fabulous — drop a dime
and it reverberates like a 
cop’s Glock in an alley — 
snap your fingers
and the echoes celebrate
like snobs in a gallery of pretense —
say the word “No” and 
men for miles beyond
will hear its glassy clarity
and be able to ignore it
as if it were uttered directly
to them. The sight lines leave

much to be desired; every seat
has an obstructed view although
you can’t see that until you sit.
From every seat
every other seat looks better
(and then the whispers start and
groaning starts and muttering and
the acoustics kick back in and
you can’t even focus on what you came 
to see because you’re drowning
in sound). Whoever lights the stage 

washes everything in such a 
hot white glaze that desperation
and passion bleach into hokum
and mistaken identity — imagine 
artists looking so blue-white 
you and they are blinded — the tech crew 
stumbles over them as they scramble
to keep things on track — and when it comes

to the season, the schedule, the booking
policies — well, it’s hard to tell an opera
from a mosh pit these days so perhaps
all can be forgiven as long as the public
is happy and buying tickets and 
not hurling pounds of their own flesh
at the performers singing their hearts
right out of their chests while 
blinking up there in the brutal light
that makes the stage blood look like
sheet cake frosting smeared all over
after the wildest party in the entire wild history
of the whole entire damned and damning world.


Shelving for now
my overarching fantasy of becoming
a mastermind of some esoteric
discipline to be held in secret
until it becomes necessary
for survival; mothballing

my own need
to be of some use and
turning instead to
pupation ahead of
a destined transformation 
that may or may not happen: after all
cocoons and pupae may still die;
even at that penultimate moment
of incipient lives, nothing
promised is ever certain. Stepping

back from the personal edge
in this moment of grand, worldwide edge
to consider the folly 
of my belief in my own indispensability
and to marvel at how final 
it all feels and yet,
even so, I long
to break out and get free

of those larval virtues and vices
of my past; hoping that instead
when I do emerge, all those old marbles
will tumble out of my once-child hands
and all these games will end and then
whatever I am in that real instant
will be adequate at the least, more 
than enough at the most, ready to be
valued, to extend time, to ground
a future where before there had been
only a flight, a vision
of improbably perfect wings.

The Golem Song

This darkness
has pushed me to sing

because if I do not
it will drown me.

So I gurgling
sing the murk,

the murder,
thick burdens

laid upon
head and lungs.

I strangling sing
my fight to get above it

though I feel 
no hope

of light there and anticipate
no whisper beyond my own

to offer me
harmony. No, I am

Golem and I
don’t know who

raised me or why,
or how against all lore

and odds I am singing
when there seem

to be so few
to listen and by law

and story I should be
silent by now. I am

not, though. I am
not though it is dark

and these words
carry not even feeble light.

Still, I am  — and I flop about
and sing this glug of mud.

I must have been made
for some cause. Nothing

could be so cruel
as to have drawn me

thus forth
for nothing.

News Story with The Duende Project in it…

Hey all…this is a link to a story about a big special project my band was involved with.  I’ll let you read it for yourself for the details, and there’s a whole playlist of all the contributions you can listen to.  

We’re in there with covers of “Danger Zone” and a solo performance on guitar and vocal by yours truly on “Flashdance.”  

Hope you enjoy it.

The Great Cover Song Challenge

A Bouquet Of Lies

I wrote a bouquet of lies
and handed them out
at intersections.  People
seem to like them, so
I’m making more. 

People seem to like them.
I’m making more 
of that
than I should, 
perhaps. Perhaps I’m
made for this. Perhaps I’m
just a born liar.

A born liar, but perhaps
people like a born liar.
Better than a made one,
perhaps? Who gets made
into a liar, anyway?

Whoever gets made as a liar
ought to stop lying and
get away from what made them
lie. No one’s born to it; ask
any kid about anything. You’ll see.

You’ll see: if you ask a little kid
a question, they will tell the truth
with simple brutality.  We teach them
how to lie — first by polite silence,
then by lying to them all the time.

Then we lie there, all the time, 
knowing what we’ve done to our kids.
No wonder everyone seems to love
getting blooms from the bouquet of lies. 
It’s funereal out there. Here is something

to take the edge off. To make you feel
perhaps better, by knowing you aren’t alone
in the lying business. Here’s another
pretty one. I see you smiling as you 
take it from me. We know what’s at stake.

A Simple Plan

Engaged, enraged, and exhausted:
the first gets me out of bed;

the second keeps me upright and moving; 
the third lays me down

and also reminds me that
there will be an end to this someday.