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
I’ve always been obsessed, thematically, with silence, journeys, and the contexts in which real “life-changing” epiphanies occur. It seems to me that one of these places is on the road touring (and it seems to be backed up by what I’ve read of folks who spend a LOT of time on the road). You either figure yourself out, or lose yourself, somewhere out on the interstate.
The title is an acknowledgment of Kris Kristofferson as a motivating force for me as a songwriter. It’s a Dylan-like off-the-cuff expression, yet intended as an homage to a type of singer-songwriter that really no longer exists.
In the back of the bus
watching cigarette butts in the ashtray
as the lights from the middle
of nowhere recede in the night
There’s a song on radio, softly it’s playing,
while some local preacher continues his praying
but forgiveness comes slow
to those who believe they are right
In the back of his mind
thoughts collide with the words that he’s forming
as the melody reaches
a sleeping form in the next row
There’s a song on radio, maybe he wrote it,
Maybe the next time the gun won’t be loaded
but memory serves only those
who believe it is so
In the back of his head
his eyes turn to observe through the window
As the fly-over country he’s crossing
slips under the road
There’s a song on the radio, sales figures pending,
It’s all about paying for years of pretending
but time sure ain’t money,
you never get more than you owe
In the back of the guidebook
it mentions a beautiful cavern
As the ice ages ravaged,
it found itself left underground
There’s a song on the radio, selling its wonders,
And out in the night there’s a brief clap of thunder
But hearing a warning is not much
like heeding its sound
In the back of the bus
with the strings of his guitar still humming
As the slow dawn approaches
and opens a wearying eye
There’s a song on the radio, worn out and faded
From one more lost cowboy who thought that he made it
But thoughts are the last thing you need
when you’re trying to get by
Stage lights just prove
that you came from the shadows.
They’re never a permanent high.
Posted in Opinions, Poems, Songs
Tagged America, epiphany, influences, inspiration, Kris Kristofferson, Lefty Frizzell, nature, songwriting, touring, transportation, travel
Stop all the clocks! The hours must halt
their slow and steady marching on;
let all lay fallow in default
until this fickle mood is gone.
Stop all the movement of the sun
and stars against a sombre sky;
let fall in finish what’s begun
until this darkened thought goes by.
Stop wishing, stop your work commute,
leave off that endless exercise
until that dream that convolutes
and busies us lays down and dies.
Stop forward motion! Stop retreat!
Let all momentum slow and cease;
pretend, for once, the world’s complete,
and does not need to be policed.
Stop watching! Look for no more signs
revealing subtle Divine thought
Let that watch halt; do not rewind
its mechanism. Let it rot.
Stop all the clocks! Keep time no more
inside each minute’s careful cage;
let structure collapse on the floor,
and words escape the page.
Stop reading! Let the lines of text
begin to swim and blur to black;
throw out your plan for what is next.
That moment’s gone. It won’t be back.
24 JUN 2005
What is secret song that the whole world
hums underneath its breath, too soft to hear
unless you sit in silence, in the dark
and listen as intently as you can?
And when you hear it once, why it is so
that its refrain eludes your memory’s grasp?
Does it vibrate on some harmonic scale
that with its very echo self-destructs?
The melody, so simple and so pure,
seems to be shifting constantly in flux
so that each phrase is new; no line repeats,
nor lends itself to rote and mindless chant.
The rhythm pulses static long enough
to catch your heartbeat’s diastolic thump,
but suddenly it swells in pregnant pause
to fill all time in but a moment’s breath.
I have heard music played beyond my ken,
so wild and free it stretched my sonic grasp
to breaking; and then all the pieces slipped
back to their assigned cells of time and space.
Long past that last note’s echo I will know
what symphony the universe conducts;
and in that gaping chasm, my small voice
awaits the cue to loose its single note.
What secret song is known to the whole world,
yet takes a lifetime’s listening to hear?
The sound of living, one breath at a time,
and finding sacred every sip of air.
20 APR 2005
Fumbling to ecstacy
One nerve cell at a time
Approaching some nirvana
Piecemeal, by the inch, sublime
At the end of fingertips
Extended like a drawl
Until the whole skin breathes in
each moment’s alcohol
From the toes along the chakras
glowing honeyed fire
as the entire body vibrates
with divine desire
Waiting, the anticipation
as the space grows close,
is almost as good as getting —
well, not quite almost.
13 JAN 2005
Listen! It murmurs softly underneath
the constant ebb and flow of dulling noise
like brackish water seeps into a clear
crystal pond, its briny fingers reaching
from a sea that constantly must expand.
In that muffled shape of sound sheathed
like a dull dagger in a blanket of chamois,
the tones so low that only the spine hears,
cries a single plaintive voice beseeching
us to find a prop against which to stand.
Listen! It whispers, between its clenched teeth
like a sandpaper rasp on corduroy,
as if its own sound were too much to bear.
There are no words to this shadow’s teaching,
and very few attempt to understand.
15 AUG 2003
How does one, not having enlightenment (or grace or whatever you like to call it) recognize that someone else is enlightened? How does someone without the benefit of having seen Nirvana (or the face of God or the underlying principle of the universe whatever you like to call it) know that someone else HAS seen it? How does someone who has never seen Niagara Falls understand the description given by someone who has seen it, has felt the spray of the mist, heard the roar of the tumulting waters?
Is it any wonder that a prophet is never accepted in their home town?