Monthly Archives: April 2006

Almost Famous

To be respected by your family,
those you like and know,
is often not enough acclaim
to satisfy; and so
we seek to become famous
in this lifetime or the next,
a bigger fish than all the rest
and so command respect.

As the sphere of your influence
expands, you gain some perks:
you get your way more often
and can boss around more jerks,
perhaps a bigger house or car,
more money in the bank,
a longer list of so-called friends
who think you owe them thanks.

From strangers, you gain envy;
from criminals, their lust;
and at some point, the tiny circle
that you know and trust
continues to diminish, until
they grow tired and leave,
exhausted from competing
with the users you believe
would be there if your fortunes
were one morning found reversed,
who only stroke your ego
as a way to line their purse.

I wanted to be famous once.
I thought it would be great
to live as if my word was law,
to die and lay in state
while mourners passed through teary-eyed,
my name upon their lips:
the mind, the face that changed the world,
that launched a thousand ships.

But now, I wonder at the point
of seeking such applause;
and seek instead a smaller crowd
of friends and kin, because
the bottom line is this, you know:
you get what we call fame
when people you don’t know or like
pretend to know your name.

30 APR 2006

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Midlife Chrysler

Some dreams are meant to fade away with age;
starting another chapter means you’ve got to turn the page.
What seemed the promised land back in your youth
becomes a lawn to mow, and it’s the truth:
it’s hard when you start watching from the side
when you remember how it felt to ride

It don’t get good mileage, doesn’t have too much appeal
The tires are going bald, there’s a loose screw behind the wheel
When we’re on the street I’m sure that people stop and stare
Don’t where we’re headed, but I hope that we get there
We keep getting old, but not much wiser
Welcome to my Midlife Chrysler.

Sometimes its hard to try and act your age;
just ’cause you’re getting old, doesn’t mean that you can’t rage.
But battles won or lost don’t make a war,
when you’ve got more to lose now than before:
Yet it’s hard to let that feeling slip away
when the balance of your life is yesterday.

It don’t get good mileage, doesn’t have too much appeal
The tires are going bald, there’s a loose screw behind the wheel
When we’re on the street I’m sure that people stop and stare
Don’t where we’re headed, but I hope that we get there
We keep getting old, but not much wiser
Back in the shop … my Midlife Chrysler.

You may call it vintage, but it’s not the same as wine;
Past a certain point, you end up tinkering all the time.
Then the parts start wearing out that are hard to replace
and all that mileage shows up on your face.

You can’t put a wild beast in a cage;
and there behind the curtain, you’re still standing on the stage.
The pace is slower, but the view is grand;
we can watch the young fools, hand in hand.
This ol’ ride’s still rolling, and there’s room enough for two
No telling what this crazy heap can do…

It don’t get good mileage, doesn’t have too much appeal
The tires are going bald, there’s a loose screw behind the wheel
When we’re on the street I’m sure that people stop and stare
Don’t where we’re headed, but I hope that we get there
Sure we’re getting old, but somewhat wiser …
Hop on in my Midlife Chrysler.

28 APR 2006

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The Undertow

Halfway up to Shreveport
driving to outrun the storm
I knew somehow there’d be no going back.
There was no sign yet of water
and the breeze was soft and warm
but the skyline in the rearview mirror was black.
We had a hunch that morning we should go;
thinking that we’d just be gone a day or so.

We spent all day Monday
with an eye on the TV,
watching as the worst seemed to go by.
Listening to the talking heads
outside on Bourbon Street
who kept the cameras pointed at the sky.
But when we heard the levees busted through
we didn’t need a photograph, we knew

All those years of living were a span of borrowed time,
and it really doesn’t matter which was yours and which was mine.
It don’t make no difference where you want to lay the blame
’cause the score ends up with both sides at zero
if you don’t watch the undertow.

We drove back to Natchitoches
to sleep at a hotel,
the lobby filled with countless refugees,
each one of us in limbo
under some strange kind of spell
thinking life should offer up some guarantee.
But it never really happens quite that way;
all you really ever have is just today.

And the headlines in the paper
went from bad to even worse:
seems the uglier, the more it lingered on.
With the worst part the denial
from those safe and dryly perched
that the place we thought was home was really gone.
It took a while before the truth sunk in:
that we had no choice but to begin again.

All your years of living are a span of borrowed time,
and it really doesn’t matter what is yours and which is mine.
It don’t make no difference where you want to lay the blame
’cause what’s up ends up in pieces down below
if you don’t watch the undertow.

28 APR 2006

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This is the oyster

This is the oyster; why seek for the pearl?
There’s no escape plan for leaving this world
in my religion: no hereafter gold,
no burning embers, no cold of Sheol.

This is the medicine; why seek a pill
to flee reality, thinking you will
by any action change the universe,
except, perhaps, to make it a bit worse
with senseless struggle against so-called fate,
hedging your bets hoping it’s not too late.

This is the path you’re on; why second guess?
No point in leaving this life in a mess,
hoping salvation will come undeserved,
praying the universe doesn’t throw curves.

There is just oyster; that one grain of sand
turned to a pearl in the palm of your hand
is just some excrement to soothe the pain
of the endless ocean. Time and again
it waits at the shoreline to carry us out,
waits while we ponder, apostize and doubt.

This is the world that is; why seek one more?
Who knows what waits beyond the tide’s great roar?
This is your heaven, or this is your hell.
It too will pass away, after a spell.

24 APR 2006

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Dear Coca-Cola

Dear Coca-Cola:

Please take a minute to review your situation. I realize that it must seem important to keep up with the Joneses (and I mean that figuratively; I don’t seriously believe the Jones Soda company is any significant threat to you), but REALLY. There are now so many different Coca-Cola products on the market (the latest being Coca-Cola Blak, which by the way tastes like a badly mixed Kahlua and Coke) that it is getting nearly impossible to walk into a convenience store and exit carrying a Coke and a pack of cigarettes. Not that it’s your business about the cigarettes, but …

I should think that your experience with “New” Coke (and admit it, you blew it there and in some tizzy over celebrity endorsements for Pepsi you listened to somebody who probably should have been committed and “changed” the Coke formula) would have taught you something. Keeping up with the Joneses did not help you there — and in fact, probably started Michael Jackson’s downward spiral thanks to his endorsement of your competitor’s product. Stick to what you’re good at. Stick to what works. Plain Coke works. Real Coke drinkers (who are your audience anyway) drink it. And isn’t that what you want, anyway? A devoted power base for whom if asked “Is Pepsi OK?” will say “Hell, no.” and drink tap water before substituting anything for a Coke. Those real Coke drinkers don’t need lime, cherry or vanilla varieties. Most of ’em don’t need Diet, Caffeine Free, Caffeine Free Diet, etc. either. Haven’t you noticed? Like the substance that used to be an ingredient in your formula, what you have is STILL pretty damned addictive. So don’t mess with it; don’t gussy it up, don’t change the packaging, the formula or the varieties. They’re simply not necessary. And here’s why:

Coca-Cola, not any other brand of carbonate beverage, is asked for nationwide. When someone requests a soda, soft drink, soda pop, a cold drink or a pop, chances are they mean Coca-Cola. Hell, sometimes ANY kind of soft drink is referred to as a “Coke”. Perhaps that’s because with the exception of Big Shot Rootbeer (which is only available in and around the New Orleans area anyway), and perhaps Verner’s Ginger Ale (likewise geographically limited, albeit to the Midwest rather than Midsouth) Coca-Cola is the most consistently satisfying carbonated beverage ever created. It also, with the aforementioned Big Shot Rootbeer again excepted, is the most logical, statistically preferable additive to any number of alcohol based cocktails. Who asks for an “Rum and RC” or “Jack and Pepsi”? A Bacardi and Tab? Get real.

So think about it, Coca-Cola. Focus on what you’re good at, and forget the short-term, fancy-pants fads and those “Coke drinkers” who think Coke isn’t good enough as is. They are NOT Coke drinkers.

A Lifelong Coca-Cola Drinker (except for that short stretch of years, when due to the proximity of the Pepsi bottling plant to my grandmother’s house in rural Ohio, I was forced to swill things like Teem).

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Speaking in Tongues

Speak to me in ancient tongues
as if in my subconscious mind
the threads of some genetic past

can be rewound around a lingo
neither you nor I now know;
or better yet, just make it up

as you go on. For heaven’s sake,
don’t let the conversation drag;
it wouldn’t do now to let on

that it’s just nonsense. Go on, spew,
and we’ll agree, the two of us,
that it’s either a fragment from

some yellowed scroll of Babylon,
or else the language demons use
when they’ve got naught but bullshit, too.

24 APR 2006

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On the Professional Diarist

There must be something more to it,
some sense behind the scenes,
a glimpse of meaning not quite shared,
or else my mind’s not keen
enough to understand the point
of merely keeping track
of each new day’s minutiae;
the long hours looking back
on what appears so trivial
would seem to waste, in turn,
great spans of time recording it;
who has such time to burn?

And why think such small moments
are something to be shared,
imagining some audience
is out there, and will care?
I wonder, in a thousand years,
will my old grocery list
of little peeves and daily notes
stand out from the great mist
and find interpretation
as the cipher that unlocks
the soul of this time that we’re in,
or if it’s just a crock.

23 APR 2006

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