Tag Archives: frustration

No Useful Illusions

What useful illusions we once had are gone:
that governments serve, that the lowliest pawns
with slow forward motion may yet become kings.
How quickly it seems that the simplest things

become complicated and mired in deceit,
and minor successes engulfed by defeat;
despite constant vigil and unending toil,
the fruits of one’s labors will wither and spoil.

And those who claim otherwise, believing luck
to be the foundation of bargains yet struck,
are lost to insanity greater than most:
that we are prized guests of some kind, noble host

who when we plead hunger, will provide the bread.
‘Tis more often shadows of crust, and instead
of a table of succulent dishes and wine,
more often takes form in less pleasant design.

What artifice leads us, in spite of these truths,
to believe in justice beyond tender youth
and strive for no purpose, for unseen reward,
each beyond the true means that they can afford,

to trust in a government built on such things
as man’s dignity and hope’s gossamer wings,
and think that the tightrope we cross at the top
of the tent has a net below for when we drop?

Illusion, illusion. There is little use
in hoping one’s neck out of reach of the noose;
and justice? Like vultures, the lynch mob rides in,
an anonymous mask for a number of sins.

04 DEC 2005

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Undertown

There’s nothing much that’s happening
here in Undertown
since they closed the old refinery
and sent those pink slips ’round;
Down at Cheaters they’re still drinking,
but the jukebox plays the sound of old frustrations.

It’s been fourteen years and odd days
I’ve been working here;
no advancement but the worry
and lost time etched in mirror,
watching everything around me
but my memories disappear down at the station.

And all the boys still thinking of winning,
but the girls just want to dance;
we’re all waiting for the times to change
so we can take our chance.
Me, I’m holding on to nothing
and it keeps bringing me down
See, there’s quite a lot of nothing to go round
here in Undertown.

Before the cops cracked down
on heavy drinking in the square
You could sit watching the girls
pretending that you weren’t there
With a sixer and a dime bag
and a half a pack of Kools, what did you care?

But Billy Dean got himself married
and you won’t see him around
And Carlton Healy got religion
when a crusade came to town

Me, I’ve got a wife and daughter
and just look like some old clown hanging down there

And all the boys think they’re important,
but the girls don’t go for that
We’re all waiting for some action,
sitting here and getting fat
Me, I’m holding out for something
and it keeps me coming ’round
Trying to get something from nothing in this town.

There’s nothing much that goes on
here in Undertown
Since they closed the swimming pool
when Eddie Franklin went and drowned
Down at Cheater’s they’re still drinking,
cursing fate but too far gone to try to blame it

It’s been fourteen years since I came back
and found another rut
The fa├žade keeps getting older
while it’s holding in its gut
And the paint is cracked and peeling,
but there’s still no telling what is going to change it

Yeah, all the boys think they mean business
but the girls know it’s a lie
We’re all wanting firewater
but the well has long run dry
Me, I’m holding on to anything
to keep from going down
See, there’s lot’s of time to lose it in this town.

1999

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Just One More Night

Leaning out the doorway with a joint in my hand
Holding up the wall so the illusion can stand
The ground it never comes up on you just the way you plan
But it’s all right, sometimes

Looking out the window through a crack in the glass
Waiting for the minutes in this hour to pass
Could be one more day and then I’m out on my ass
But it’s all right, just fine

It don’t get no easier with time
There’s just so much here to occupy my mind
While I’m waiting for the imminent decline
Without a fight … just one more night.

Giving it the gas so that the engine won’t stall
Waiting in a line to make a long distance call
Makes you stand up straighter when your back’s to the wall
But it’s all right by me

Hanging in a backroom filled with rusty old nails
Wishing in the one hand and it just never fails
Could be a train a’coming you can tell by the rails
But it’s all right, you’ll see

Standing on the corner as the traffic goes by
Watching as the debutantes dissemble and cry
The future’s never certain and you never know why
But it’s all right, yeah, all right

Working on the road gang and I’m standing in the ditch
Waiting for the light to change, my finger on the switch
One more opportunity to hang around and bitch
But it’s all right, no need to get uptight

It don’t get much easier with time
There’s just so much here to occupy my mind
While I’m trying to figure out the bottom line
You’ll see I’m right … it’s just one more night.

Summer 1998

And here’s the MP3 demo.

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Just Go Away

Doctor, I am feeling ill; I’ve eaten all my young,
touring the coast of Africa,
going through the longboats
with a fine-tooth comb.

I’m a debutante at the Ball of Confusion,
filling fishbowls with the Water of Life,
burning the candle at either end
end of a switchblade knife.

Why do you keep following me
to take my pain away?
Don’t give me, give me anything
Just go away; come back tomorrow.

Yesterday is so far gone; I’m somewhere in next week.
Hours melt like tiny raindrops,
running down the gutters
onto Lonely Street.

I’m a candidate for mass frustration,
filling canteens from the Fountain of Youth,
keeping my hair from turning gray
by pulling it out by the roots.

Why do you keep on bothering me?
Please take my pain away.
Don’t give me, give me anything;
Just go away; don’t come back tomorrow.

1985

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If I Were, When I Was, What I Am

If I were still a drinking man,
I’d say I need a shot;
but as my self-made realm is dry
I think I’d better not.

If I were still procuring weed,
I’d want to roll a joint;
but all I’ve left is seeds and stems —
I think you get the point.

If I were still alone and free,
I’d probably point my car
with nowhere as my destination;
but now I’d not get far.

If I had those proclivities
that helped me through my youth,
I’d more than likely make a mess
of things, to tell the truth.

Instead, I’ll sit and meditate,
reflecting on a week
that seemed to drag on endlessly
and sap my strength to speak.

Then in the morning, when I wake
I’ll not be worse for wear;
and be more glad for nothing planned
and money saved. So there.

If I were still the man I was,
I’d see myself, and laugh.
But then again, I’d rather be
a joke than epitaph.

21 JAN 2005

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Blues for Elijiah/Fallen Angels

For some reason, sitting out under the carport this morning in the rain made me think of a period during 1991 when I wrote about 30 songs in the course of 36 hours. It was a very strange Peter Gabriel meets Van Morrison kind of weekend … just me, the computer terminal and the digital piano.

Blues for Elijiah

Ravenous, we turned our backs on civilized pursuits
in suits of woven rags and skins, exposed to elemental change;
No human chatter breaking forth, no spewing after-thoughts
of imperfect internal combustion.

Blinded by the word of the immortal beast of broadcast,
scarlet-eyed, star-struck, in cathode-ray imposed myopia,
we foolishly believed that we had found the new Messiah
and we called to him by name, Blessed Technology.

Cloven-hooved, through clover fields, we chased the dream inconceivable
Thinking we could make believe and make it more believable

Turn away from your television
Turn away from your radio
There are more things in Earth and Heaven
Than you’ll ever know

Words are only words if they hold no other meaning
Symbolized interpretation of an unseen imagery:
The silence shouts out deafening; cover up your ears
or you might hear something important.

Hungry now, and rooting through the leftovers of history,
power ties no longer bind, yet cut off circulation.
Do you still believe that you have found the reasons for your presence?
Do you still hold fast to dreams that have no meaning?

Turn away from your newspaper
Turn away from your bulletin board
There are so many things escaping your attention
There are more rivers left to ford

With all your money, can you still pay attention?
Will all your bridges tumble into the sea?
With how much credit can you purchase my affection?
Will you be frightened if I love you for free?

Turn away from your television
Turn away from your radio
Listen to the music playing out in the courtyard
They’re playing verses you should know

Turn away from your radio
Turn away from your magazine
There are things happening that are much more important
There are still wonders you’ve not seen

26 JUL 91

Fallen Angels

A monster’s out walking the streets tonight
Devouring the city, cobblestone by cobblestone
A soul without mercy; and you know
pity is a lonely word, small and forgettable

Silent in mute screaming agony
Following the gutters down and out to the sea;
otherwise, without purpose, directionless,
void of apparent course.

Searching for fallen angels
Fitting them with dragons’ wings
‘Cause if this play falls on its face
We’ll have to think of something

The monster in his guise, so human,
licks his lips, mastiff-inspired,
the scent of life, animal
caged words, primitive and sophisticated.

Alone in schizophrenic company
Following the sound of life around the corner;
no intentions, only expectations
of disappointment in the shadows

Searching for fallen angels
Fitting them with dragons’ scales
‘Cause we’ll need more cannon fodder
When self-preserving instinct fails

A monster is stalking the city tonight
Devouring the pavement like lines
on a printed page, without mercy or pity,
which are lonely words, small and
easily forgotten

Searching for fallen angels
Fitting them with dragons’ hearts
‘Cause we’ll need all our energy
Once the floor show starts.

26 JUL 91

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Sometimes in Fits of Restless Pique

Sometimes in fits of restless pique
I lose the will to even speak;
and listening to voices lie
reduces me to tears. I cry

not for their souls in peril; no,
but for a world that makes it so
worthwhile to bend and shape the truth
this way and that, a mood to suit.

And weeping, once the phone is dead,
I sit and wonder, seeing red,
why those who have integrity
must bear the brunt of infamy

while tarred and feathered by those fools
who will not play by agreed rules,
but choose instead to twist and wreck
the facts. But then, in retrospect,

I pity anyone who must
rely on guile instead of trust
to count some coup against their foe
scoring them, one, everyone, zero.

06 DEC 2004

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