Tag Archives: parables

Reflections of a Twentieth Century Bard

After the “Song of Amergin”

I have been a fly on the wall of a corporate meeting
I have been a child lost in snow that drifted roof high
I have been a broke-winged bird, flightless through winter
I have been a prisoner in some Gothic dungeon
I have been a supporter of lost, hopeless causes
I have been a wandering fool, aimless and goal-less
I have been a prodigal son for whom died the fatted calves
I have been a homeless man in cities of great wealth.

I have been a harsh word whispered in a darkened alley
I have been a silver slick carp, no good for the fry pan
I have been a glee-man singer for spare change and train fare
I have been a ragged voice crying in the wildness
I have been a drowsy student of life’s strange instructors
I have been a trust fund baby given deceptive means
I have been a reed in the wind blown aside by gale force
I have been a poet stoned with drunk and swollen words.

I have been a teacher of some useful knowledge
I have been a night janitor in the halls of justice
I have been a poor cross-maker, Pharisee and martyr
I have been a young soldier, grown old in the battle
I have been a raging fire made from drenched matches
I have been a quick perceptor without a portfolio
I have been a childhood plowman, tiller of the earth
I have been a knowing victim of victimless crime.

I have been a cold white speck in a snowfall blizzard
I have been a big, loud fish in an empty trout pond
I have been a moving current and the dry of drought
I have been a helpful force to some creative light
I have been a drifting cloud on the face of the sun
I have been a changeling spirit of the moonless night
I have been a watcher of winds that shape the noon sky
I have been a friend of the trees that breathe the earth’s air.

Who, more than I, can claim to have been loved?
Who, having also being lost, can with more conviction believe themselves found?

Who else, having for so long lived under a curse of their own making, has been more blessed?

29 MAR 2000

Share This:

The Devil’s Daughter

Thinking for some reason of this song I wrote and recorded probably 15 years ago, during my “Elvis Costello” period…

I used to dream with my eyes wide open
I would sing songs for the deaf and paint pictures for the blind.
I spent my life destroying
every good thing I could find.

I fell in love with a bad idea;
I could look in the mirror and tell myself lies.
It was easy to believe
that there was nothing left inside.

Spent my life looking for the Devil’s daughter
and now all I’ve got left is some wine that used to be water

I used to think through my mental blinders
that the worst thing you could do is learn someone’s last name.
I could never be tied down;
just kept shooting the horses when their legs went lame.

I used to think it would all be ending:
we could dance down to the river and sing songs with the king;
but now looks like the castle’s empty
and it ain’t guarding anything.

Spent my life searching for the Devil’s daughter
and now all I’ve got left is some wine that I wish was water.

Yes it’s true. Pride can bring you down;
just look at anyone after they fall.
You may have seen a miracle, but when the deed is done
the water’s gone, the wine is gone;
there’s no much left at all.

I’ve spent my life living with the Devil’s daughter
and now I’m waiting for someone to come
and change this wine back to water.


Share This:

Salt of the Earth

Imagine a person made completely out of salt.

If that person chooses to be immersed in the ocean, their very being is absorbed by the sea. Once their head is beneath the waves, no distinction can be made between their now dissolved form and the depths into which they have sojourned. Not even the ocean can separate itself again, saying “this minute portion of me is of that small salt doll, and the remainder is not”.

Such is the case, too, when a person approaches and begins to comprehend the infinite energy of the universe. Once an individual recognizes the eternal within themselves, the external sack of temporal cloth in which that eternal has been stored melts away, and only the infinite remains.

In either case, who is left to report, to return some answer to the question they originally set out seeking? And in what language could that answer be expressed, that those on the shore, whose toes scarcely dare to dip into the surf’s foam, would be able to understand?

Even the cleverest of parables fails. And to speak with the voice of the ocean itself is to be misunderstood as a overwhelming roar.

Share This:

Against The Grain

If knots formed in the wood
have turned the grain in a maze
that wanders no continued line
nor runs a cogent phrase,
then those who go against it
are not veering from a norm,
but rather seeking patterns
in the absence of pure form,
like turning in the skid
or tacking sails into the gale.

The true adventure starts
when more conventioned methods fail.

The salmon fights its way upstream
against the current’s flow;
a planet’s arc seems retrograde
to us, from down below;
our martyrs, saints and mystics
tap a source we do not know;
and we obsess on only what
the surface cares to show.

26 JUL 2005

Share This:

the thin kings of aboutness

From Part I:

backward broken pushed against the known,
each awaiting defamation,
two armies fought and fled their thin kings
waiting down among the rushes

forward spoken harsh against the wind,
each a summons hoarse men whispered
plans and expectations lost are we to blame
the thin kings’ ponds were stirring

inwards driven quick against the mark,
each an inchlet close to dying
hopis lost and raiders of the damned sing
for the thin kings’ fateful pushes

outward spoken quick against the door,
each awaiting degradation
two armies raised and wasted time until
the thin kings planned the battle.

the thin kings of aboutness sought
to subjugate the realm of thought,
and ‘gainst the nothing that they fought
the void and emptiness they brought.

of when and what the why became
the struggle birthed from whence they came:
one blind, one deaf, one mute, one lame –
the thin kings and their sorrowed fame.

the thin kings of aboutness yearned
to separate the great unlearned;
and ‘gainst the grip of death they turned
the fire of life, and so were burned.

of which and who the where becomes
the battle spawned from endless drums:
one great, one small, one burst, one dumb –
the thin kings and their kingdom come.

From Part III:

the ink spilled swift and held itself
as nothing kept its silent vow;
letters cowered as the pages dressed
the thin kings in their shining raiment.

wordless crept the secret cause
as something slept in silent death;
whispers shivered as the horses swept
the thin kings through the alleys raining.

the crowd stood murmured and beheld
as nothing stood and spoke parables;
betters glowered as the gates pressed
the thin kings up against their subjects.

worthless wept the one lament
as something passed in hurtful bliss;
lepers wondered as the healers sought
the thin kings in their broken armor.

in winter’s cold and bitter debt
the mistress learns her alphabet
to write of sorrows unfelt yet
until the thin kings she’ll forget

too soon the memory fades, she knew
the trumpets blown the wind it blew
and who remembers then? too few
the thin kings and their kingdom, too.

release me from this hardened shell
outside into the fires of hell
for I’ve a riddle yet to tell
the thin kings and their tolling bell.

a riddle, yes, perhaps a tale
of riders, horses, crop and flail
of frozen rain turned into hail
and hands forgotten with their nail.

the answer sought the lonely kings
beyond the gallows where they swing
yet not a one could bear to bring
their focus on the ghastly thing.


Share This:

An End to Parables

I’ve spent a life in parables,
disguising my ideas
in costumes and strange metaphors
deliberately unclear

and so perhaps convinced the world
that I’m a harmless quack,
imagining just chimeras
with no spine in their backs.

But recently, while looking through
and sorting sundry stuff,
I’ve started thinking parables
are just not clear enough.

So I’ve decided to speak plainly,
well, at least plain as I can,
and for a while, pretend that I’m
a new idea man.

Besides, it seems at present
the world needs of bit of this;
so I beg your indulgence,
and hope you won’t find amiss

the fact that I’ll be writing things
to stretch your world, and mine —
and perhaps we together
can build a new paradigm.

24 JAN 2005

Share This:

How the Brain Lost its Brawn

There was an idea
that grew in a brain —
not a clean break, but rather
a troubling sprain.

It swelled up and shut off
the centers of speech,
thus remaining hidden;
and just beyond reach

it festered, fermented
and spread like a rash
along the poor cortex
which gave up, and crashed.

But that was so long ago —
now the brain’s learned
to shun stray ideas
lest its pathways burn

with even the memory
of strange and queer thought;
to be safe, it forgets
most that it’s been taught

and so pretty thoughtless
it plods through the day —
imagining it has
always been this way.

Now dearly beloved,
believe this is true;
lest you want ideas
to happen to you.

08 DEC 2004

Share This: