Tag Archives: illusions

What’s My Name?

What’s my name?
You may have seen it in the papers
Saw the lines ’round my face
and you read about my latest capers

What’s my name?
It’s on everybody’s lips
Who’s hip, who’s tripped, who’s slipped,
who’s got a case of the vapors

What’s my name?
It’s on the cover of a magazine
And the headlines read “Is He Live or Dead?”
“Is it him you think you might have seen?”

What’s my name?
Maybe you just can’t remember
Because I’m not someone toting a gun,
or dating Miss September

It doesn’t matter if you can’t recall
Sometimes it’s safer in a faceless crowd
When I think of all the stupid things we believe
We may be learning, but we’re not too proud
To put it off until tomorrow.

What’s my name?
You may have read it in the Bible
A fine line on the sign of the times
between obscenity and revival

What’s my name?
It’s on a billboard ’round the corner
A poster child for the wild and wooly side
against which parents try to warn you

What’s my name?
Maybe I can’t even tell you
Except as part of a slogan for some new product
I’m trying to sell you

It doesn’t matter if you can’t decide
Sometimes it’s better if you just don’t know
When I think of all the stupid things we believe
We might be better off digging a hole…
I guess I’ll start that tomorrow.

Memphis, Summer 1992

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This Song

You won’t ever hear this song
It won’t be finished ’til you’re long gone
and you never liked country radio.
It doesn’t matter, then, I guess,
if what I say is more or less
an echo of unspoken “told you so’s.”

You told me that I’d never make it
Until I learned how not to fake it
and tried to be much kinder than I am.
Looks you’re right, I’m at rock bottom;
I’d call on friends, but I ain’t got ’em,
and if I did they wouldn’t give a damn.

You were right, and I was wrong
I was weak, and you were strong;
I didn’t trust my heart, just my fool head.
I was wrong, and you were right,
and so I’m here alone tonight
I don’t have you; I’ve got this song instead.

You won’t ever hear this song
so you’ll not get to sing along
and find you have the words all down by heart.
It doesn’t matter much, I guess,
that doesn’t make me miss you less,
or shorten this sad time we’ve been apart.

You told me that I’d lost all feeling
and tried too hard to stop revealing
the bitter man behind the plastic smile.
Looks like you’re right, I’m down to nothing;
might act real tough, but I’d be bluffing,
just trying not to break down all the while.

You were right, and I was wrong
I was weak, and you were strong;
I didn’t trust my heart, just my fool head.
I was wrong, and you were right,
and so I’m here alone tonight
I don’t have you; I’ve got this song instead.

It’s not likely you’ll hear this song
It won’t be finished ’til you’re gone
and you won’t buy my records anymore.
It doesn’t matter, then, I guess,
but still I’ll say it, more or less,
because that chance is all I’m living for.

15 JAN 2006

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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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The Aftermath

Ain’t no use in looking back;
your eyes will be fooled by the mirror.
What seemed once to be so small,
becomes too big and crystal clear

Ain’t no use in laying blame;
The line between who’s right and wrong
is blurred with every movement on:
The tide rolls in, and then it’s gone.

What good is simply hanging on
to dreams that fade and turn to dust?
We struggle forward ’cause we must,
like darkness crawling to the dawn.

What good is thinking might have beens,
or wishing for some different path?
They won’t help you to understand
or live on in the aftermath.

Ain’t no use in looking back;
let shadows take the past and go.
There’s not much point in memories
that only say I told you so.

Ain’t no use in wondering why;
some things aren’t meant to understand,
and reason’s never all you need
to carry on the best you can.

What good is crying for a dream
that’s faded and returned to dust?
You struggle forward ’cause you must,
like winter’s snow melts into green.

What good is mourning what you’ve lost
in shadows somewhere down the path?
You’ve got to try to start again
and rebuild in the aftermath.

There’s just no point in sad tears
for the wasted years,
the time spent building those castles of sand;
As the new morning nears
and the stormclouds clear
you work with what you’ve got at hand.

What good is trying to hang on
to dreams of what is dead and gone,
leaves turned to dust there on the lawn,
the memory of a faded song

What good is dwelling on the past?
Those days are gone, the die are cast.
You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt
and live on in the aftermath.

19 NOV 2005

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Hallows 2005

Tonight the veil between the worlds wears thin
and feels as sheer as gossamer. To touch
its fabric is to let the shadows in,
to find one’s means of light only a crutch

that guides us, just a mere footstep beyond
the circle we imagine with our eyes,
a stick with which we try to sound the pond
and find no bottom. There is no disguise

tonight to startle demons from the door,
nor simple ruse to mime behind in fear.
These clever gadgets, tools and such are poor
defense against the truths this night makes clear.

On Hallow’s Eve, we each get what we’ve asked.
For some, reward is only one more task.

30 OCT 2005

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Yesterday’s Angels

Baby’s got a hole in her shoe
Tells me she’s not sure what to do
All her watercolors have turned to blue
Said she wanted a choice, but now there’s nothing left to choose
Tells me that her well’s about to run dry
Got no more tears left her to cry

Baby’s got a lot on her mind
Tells me she’s not sure just what she’ll find
All her fortune tellers have been found blind
Says I know wanted change, but wasn’t sure what kind
Tells me she just wants to be free
Then picks up the chains that bind her, and throws me the key
saying

I don’t need no angels to show me the light
Yesterday’s angel is still burning bright
Don’t try to save me, and I think I’ll be all right
Just leave your wings outside my door tonight

Baby’s got a lock on her soul
Tells me she don’t want to lose control
All her convicted lovers have been paroled
Said she gave herself to the night, didn’t know it’d be so cold
Tells me her bridges are burned to the ground
Got no more heartache to pass around

Baby’s got a hole in her heart
Tells me she just wants to make a new start
All her horses left her with a broken cart
Said she wanted to know it all, now it hurts to be so smart
Tells me she just wants to let go
Then picks up the chains that bind her, throws the key to the floor
saying

I don’t need no angels to show me the light
Yesterday’s angel is still burning bright
Don’t try to save me, and I think I’ll be all right
Just leave your wings outside my door tonight…

And so I did.

1991

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Not Much of Everything

What is belief except a means to reach
beyond the limits safe within our grasp
to learn from the unknown what it may teach?
If in that fertile darkness, courage fails,
as well as our illusions of defense,
what is there but belief until night pales?

Can faith alone provide, as some suppose,
sufficient armor against what we fear:
a deep pervading loneliness that grows
with every hour, behind our cheerful smiles;
a nagging doubt that we are each alone;
that substance fails, and there are merely styles?

It is belief that is our mooring rock:
the tenets that we hold as true and sure,
that mark us individuals, and shock
those who either grasp at fashion’s whims,
or sip from here or there, like butterflies;
the book of life we choose to read, not skim.

But separate belief from life, and it becomes
a rigid set of chains that bind the soul,
that does not fuel, but instead starts to numb
the senses to the underlying truth:
that what we see is only a small part,
akin to how old age is known to youth:

A lantern in the dark, but not the light;
a drop of canteen water, not the spring;
a packet of dry crackers, but not grain;
a piece, not very much, of everything.

18 OCT 2005

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