Monthly Archives: February 2007

Stale Yellow

This morning my country’s on orange alert;
or maybe stale yellow, if you feel perverse:
the color of bullies, who’re cowards, in fact,
who put down in others convictions they lack.

The war is on terror, they’ll loudly proclaim;
but killing is killing, no matter the name.
Nobody learns nothing by point of a gun,
‘cept when to stay hidden, and which way to run.

Freedom’s a journey, not some point in time
when your way of living is the same as mine.
Truth is an ocean and peace is a verb;
How we each get there shows what we deserve.

This morning my country’s enmeshed in a war
financed by the rich, fought by the young and poor
who trust in their leaders and will pay the cost
regardless of who we say has won or lost.

The war is for freedom, those leaders will say;
the world is our oyster, let’s keep it that way.
But force just accelerates, it won’t evolve;
making more problems than it ever solves.

Freedom’s a journey, not some future point
when who we like has the run of the joint.
Truth is an ocean and peace is a verb;
How we each get there proves what we deserve.

This morning my country’s on orange alert;
or maybe stale yellow, which may be much worse.

22 FEB 2007

Stale Yellow (demo)

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What Really Matters

Could be bitter; what’s the point?
Each generation must anoint
its own legion of heroes to cut down.

Complaining they did not pick me
this time around seems to be
another way of sinking in the ground.

Between the cracks sometimes you fall;
you’re lucky to be seen at all.
So many live and die without a sound.

So what that no one knows my name,
that somehow I’ve eluded fame?
despite all that could be I’m still around.

What really matters, after all?
You get right up after you fall
without expecting some reward each time you do.

What really matters, in the end?
You find some truth, maybe a friend,
because the only thing left to become is you.

Could be bitter; what’s the use?
The world needs pointless self-abuse
like it needs one more song about the rain.

Insisting some conspiracy
must be to blame, and woe is me,
just sounds like an excuse for being lame.

Between the headlines that you read,
you find the news you really need
or else you don’t learn anything at all.

So what that no one sings my praise
then tires of it, in a few days?
The headlines make the other print so small.

What really matters, after all?
You get right up after you fall
without expecting some reward each time you do.

What really matters, in the end?
You find some truth, maybe a friend,
because the only thing left to become is you.

22 FEB 2007

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Burning Down

If you ain’t got your thing together, what is it that you want with mine?
If you ain’t got your thing together, what is it that you’ll do with mine?
We’re running ’round in circles, and you’re running out of time.

If you don’t know where you’re headed, why do you keep me hangin’ ’round?
If you’re not sure where you’re headed, why just keep me ‘hangin ’round?
Our time is growing shorter, and your candle’s burning down.

I don’t mind coming on for the ride, babe,
but I’ve got my own life left to lead;
and I don’t have the time to mess around here,
just ’cause you wanna waste your time on me.

If you don’t know who you’re looking for, why is it that you call my name?
If you don’t know who you’re looking for, why do you go and call my name?
Our candle’s growing shorter, and you’re burning out the flame.

If you don’t know what you want, girl, what makes you think that you want me?
If you don’t know what you want now, why in the world do you want me?
I’m tired of wasting precious time; our fire has become history.

I don’t mind just traveling along, babe,
but I’ve got problems of my own;
and I don’t have the time to sit and wait here,
’cause you don’t want to be alone.

If you don’t know what it is, girl, how do you know you’ll find it here?
If you don’t know what it is, girl, how do you know I’ve got it here?
We’re running ’round in circles, baby, and our time is drawing near.

If you ain’t got your thing together, baby, what you gonna do with mine?
If you ain’t got your thing together, why should I trust you with mine?
We’re running ’round in circles, darling, and just running out of time.

1996

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Do Unto Others

I was minding my own business, at the bar nursing a drink,
when a big old boy slid onto the next stool;
he ordered a cheap, cold one for a buck fifty, I think,
then turned to me and said, “I’m no one’s fool.”

Now, I’m of the opinion that a bar in a small town
is no place for a liberal point of view;
and so I simply grunted in a noncommital way
and tried to figure out what I could do.

He wanted conversation, so I gathered from his tone,
on politics in general, and the war;
he waxed on philosophic while I tried hard not to moan
for nearly two full hours, maybe more.

The gist of his opinion, if you want to call it that,
was that world was too big for its jeans,
and those old fashioned values he prized were being left flat.
I finally had to ask him what’d he mean.

He said, “I said it once before, my mama didn’t raise no fool:
the answer’s pretty simple, seems to me.
It’s only application of that saw from Sunday School,
that’s what America needs to be free:”

Do unto others; make it a pre-emptive strike.
That way they won’t talk back and make you do things you don’t like.
Apply the golden rule and we can keep the world in line;
and freedom’s light will continue to shine.

Do unto others; pay it forward, so to speak.
If they say something you don’t like, just knock ’em in next week.
Apply the golden rule before they sneak one in on you;
Now that’s what this great country ought to do.

I’d had about enough of this, as you can understand,
when he slid his bar stool back and took his feet;
He said, “nice talking to you, I can see you’re a good man.”
I nodded to the barman — whiskey, neat.

The good old boy departed, and I lifted up my glass
to toast his shadow as it slipped away.
It was obvious in our debate, I’d simply been outclassed;
or overcome with silence, you might say.

I said to the bartender, who was an old friend of mine:
“I wonder where they come from, these great fools.”
He said, with a big grin, “They wander in here all the time,
from hunting, chasing skirts or buying tools.”

They all say …

Do unto others; stop that terror in its tracks.
That way no one will argue, and we can all just relax.
Apply the golden rule and we can keep the world in line;
and freedom’s light will continue to shine.

Do unto others; pay it forward, so to speak.
If they say something you don’t like, just knock ’em in next week.
Apply the golden rule before they sneak one in on you;
Now that’s what this great country ought to do.

14 FEB 2007

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The Camp Meeting

“This town needs a revival,” I heard some sure person say
at the supermarket just the other night.
I thought about replying, but instead just walked away;
no point in telling people that they’re right.

There’s at least 50 churches in the just under two miles
between the store my driveway, I think.
It may be old time religion is now coming back in style,
but the water isn’t what we want to drink.

We know we’re headed straight for self destruction;
hell, any fool with half a mind knows that:
we’re dumbing down our children’s school instruction,
and becoming lazy, mean and fat.

“I put my faith in Jesus,” I heard an old-timer say
while co-signing a check down at the bank.
I thought about a comment, but instead just said, “good day;”
sarcasm would have likely drawn a blank.

This town is full of lawyers, and their practices are booked
from now until the final judgment comes
with people suing people, calling other people crooks;
attorney’s fees are quite a tidy sum.

We know we’re headed straight for immolation;
hell, any fool could see the flames by now:
we’re reveling in ignorance and mental masturbation
and evolving into our own sacred cow.

“This town needs a revival,” with a sad shake of the head,
the lady at the market firmly spoke.
I thought about replying, but kept my mouth shut instead;
you can’t fix something you can’t see is broke.

There’s at least 10 or 20 in each church’s parking lot
on Sundays between nine a.m. and noon;
by early afternoon the sermons all have been forgot:
but at least we’re all humming the same tune.

We know we’re headed straight for real damnation;
hell, only a blind fool would disagree:
and all that we can do is suffer through the situation
watching it play-by-play on the TV

We know we’re headed straight down to perdition;
hell, any fool could see the end is near.
It’s lucky that we’re not to blame for this sad world’s condition;
let’s praise the Lord and have another beer.

14 FEB 2007

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Heaven or Las Vegas

for Elvis Presley

Well, the coroner he figured
no one’s hand was on the trigger,
so there really wasn’t anyone to blame.
Call him a victim of his fame;
we know what killed him, just the same.

Never mind his fiercest critics
called him his own Chappaquidick.
We convinced him he was well enough to drive;
went along just for the ride:
we each committed regicide.

Whether it’s heaven or Las Vegas,
chances are you’ll never win;
playing the house is big gamble:
the odds are always pretty slim.
Pauper or king it doesn’t matter
in the end, which one you choose:
whether it’s heaven or Las Vegas,
either way you’re bound to lose.

A symbol of our generation:
vanity, and the frustration
of becoming bigger than what came before.
We stood screaming at the door,
always wanting from him more.

And we locked him in a palace,
made his microphone a chalice,
and his youth a trophy case for rock and roll.
Never mind the tears, the burden on his soul.
And we blamed him when he went out of control.

The choice was heaven or Las Vegas;
both are illusions based on sin;
playing the house is big gamble:
the odds are always pretty slim.
Pauper or king it doesn’t matter
in the end, which one you choose:
whether it’s heaven or Las Vegas,
either way you’re bound to lose.

Well, the coroner he figured
no one’s hand was on the trigger,
just another case of privilege gone too far:
one more supernova that we call a star
to avoid looking at who we really are.

13 FEB 2007

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Out into the Rain

Standing at the window, staring out into the rain,
past the point of caring who or what may be the blame.
Innocent and guilty sometimes are one and the same;
we don’t make the rules, and yet we still must play the game.

Standing on the corner waiting for the downtown bus
sometime after midnight, by the frequency of trucks.
The hour makes no difference when the minutes turn to rust;
no one’s left the light on or is waiting up for us.

Standing at the streetlight for the green light to come on,
each moment takes us by surprise and then is too soon gone.
You start out as a knight or queen, but end up just a pawn,
a jockey left out in the dark on someone else’s lawn.

Standing in the doorway, with so many words unsaid,
each one an ultimatum or a summons to the dead.
In print they seem so black and white, aloud they turn to red,
lines intended to inspire that fade to gray instead.

Standing at the window staring out into the night,
past the point of knowing between what is wrong and right.
Doesn’t really matter which side of the cause you fight,
justice isn’t really blind, she’s just hidden from sight.

11 FEB 2007

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