Tag Archives: pointlessness

Teach Your Children: canzone

Canto I.

To educate for revolution’s sake
requires a willingness for martyrdom,
the sense to learn from every small mistake,
and fortitude enough to take what comes
when nay-saying begins; and start it will,
the moment you step from the comfort zone
where history and status quo lie still.
The one who makes the change, makes it alone.

To teach in such a way, one draws from life;
here, leading by example is a must.
Without at least some evidence of strife
you’ll never gain a single student’s trust.
Each lesson is a battle for the will,
to gain an inch of ground against a world
that teaches, at its core, how best to kill
the oyster, for the sake of some small pearl.

If you would learn from teachers such as these,
first empty out the vessel that you bear;
relinquish all desire or need to please,
and first and foremost, decide that you care.
Once that commitment’s made, the lesson starts:
no homework, no “pop” essays are required,
no slogans or mnemonics learned by heart,
except “to be inspiring, be inspired.”

Canto II.

The truth is never taught to us in schools;
what good is knowing why a thing is so?
Much better to accept the way it is,
than to upset the known, the status quo,
in vain attempts to try and understand
some purpose beyond doing what you’re told.
Shut up, keep to yourself, and mind your tongue:
the best way to survive and to grow old.

Beyond the simple texts we learn by rote,
the facts we’re told are sacred and pristine,
we fall and yet imagine that we float
above a ground far down below, unseen.
There is no golden parachute, my friends;
believe in what you will, to no avail:
no paradise lies up beyond the bend,
the gears will stop, the power will soon fail.

When learning stops, who still admits to teach?
Who, once they know it all, says “I don’t know”?
What good to grasp in space beyond your reach
if what is underfoot you can’t let go?
The time spent cultivating self-esteem,
instead of just performing worthy acts
can never be returned; you can’t reclaim
a pointless life by coloring the facts.

Canto III.

Break down the doors, release these fettered minds!
Let love of beauty rule each student’s heart.
Who knows what new advances they may find,
when nurtured with some kindness from the start?
For truth, though sometimes bitter, does not kill;
reality is harsh, but bears no ill.

Break down the walls of that familiar box
we reinforce with history and fear.
Let go of petty cowardice; unlock
the upper reaches of the atmosphere,
where muffled by a misspent sense of pride
the dreams of humankind are waiting still;
the future can be ours, if we decide
to say, not can’t or won’t, but shout, “I will!”

Break off these chains that bind us to the past,
to staid traditions of no further use;
in truth, they were not ever meant to last.
Let stale ideas suffer disabuse!


Disruption and upheaval cannot be
the means by which the world is made anew.
By violence, nothing ever is made free;
it simply tilts the scales, always askew,
toward a slightly different fulcrum point.
No measure of success is ever found
in wanton, mad destruction. We annoint
new martyrs when each century comes round,

and sacrifice to progress our ideals.
We spend long hours in pointless, wild debate,
believing that reform, a fresh appeal,
will somehow, save us from ourselves, our fate.

What would you teach, if you no longer learn?
What would you learn, if you know everything?
The tune that Nero played on, as Rome burned?
Together, or apart, we all will swing.

26 NOV 2010

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Pop Charts

You wanna make it on the pop charts
Shrink-wrapped and sold just like a pop tart
Well, let me tell you: better get smart
it doesn’t matter if you’ve got heart

It doesn’t matter what you’re saying
and you don’t have to do the playing
Don’t take a seat, ’cause you ain’t staying
If the cash registers’ aren’t swaying

They’ll tell you it’s too complicated
or that your appeal’s understated
the boys in sales must be elated
to see your potential inflated

You wanna make it on the pop charts
Be the next big thing sold at Wal-Mart
Well, let me tell you, better get smart
Forget your brain and lock away your heart

It doesn’t matter what you’re saying
As long as stadium’s are swaying
They don’t have to know you’re not playing
Or that you’re prematurely graying

You’ll be the flavor for a short while
And then be left out on the trash pile
With nothing but a toothy, big smile
“So sorry, but you’re going out of style”

You want to make it on the pop charts
Be shrinked-wrapped and consumed like pop tarts
Well, let me tell you, better get smart
and find another path with some heart

It doesn’t matter what you’re saying
Or if you do none of your playing
It’s just an image you’re portraying
Don’t mind your bags, you won’t be staying.

02 AUG 2006

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Foolish Notions

for Bob Dylan

Youth’s rebellions dissipate;
brave destiny succumbs to fate.
One morning you find it’s too late
to join the revolution.

One’s high ideals sink in the mud;
mountain retreats recede in flood.
The fire that once burned in your blood
Is ash and tar solution.

The words you chanted echo back
with missing verbs, with added tact,
contaminated by the fact
they’re now just noise pollution.

What was the problem has become
the status quo, opposing thumbs;
and the low beating of the drums
is just sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Those questions you posed to the air
have lost their sense of savoir faire.
Youth listens, but it doesn’t care;
they have their own self-loathing.

The answers aren’t there to find
out in the world, inside your mind,
to questions, now, of any kind.
Your gurus were all posing.

And yet the world is still the same:
victors dividing up the blame,
while tired and poor and sick and lame
sit waiting for a saviour.

While those with strength enough to fight
pretend their side is mostly right,
with pills to help them sleep at night
not doing them a favor.

Pretending at community,
while slicing up eternity;
the dish is done, it seems to me
the salt has lost its flavor.

I could, but now it’s far too late;
while we sit back and hesitate
the tabla rasa changes state
and crumbles in the ocean.

And each of us that could have been
if only we’d decided when
is left with words and bitter pens
robbed of our forward motion.

To sit and kvetch about the news
our backsides warm in worn-down pews,
forced now to listen as our views
are shown as foolish notions.

01 AUG 2006

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Untitled for a Reason

What a record label’s looking for I haven’t got a clue;
it doesn’t really matter any more.
And who’s at number one or rising up to number two?
I’ve stopped pretending that I’m keeping score.

I don’t expect the radio to leave familiar ground;
they’ll play what advertisers think they need.
And the movers and shakers never stop here at my door;
I’m guessing they prefer a faster speed.

The nightclubs and the bars will cater to a younger crowd;
that’s where they think the money’s gonna be.
They’ll want it new and trendy, and they’ll keep it fast and loud
and look to get it cheap or nearly free.

It doesn’t bother me that some things never seem to change;
some folks will always take what they can get.
But every now and then I take another look around
and see again what I tried to forget.

It’s not the song that matters, or the singer, anymore;
and no one cares if either lives or dies.
Unless the numbers add up to a profitable score
only the writer’s tax accountant cries.

No matter what you’re saying, you’re forgotten in the end
and no one wants a has-been or maybe.
The truth is, you’re expendible, based on the latest trend,
in a world where even free love isn’t free.

01 JUN 2006

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On the Professional Diarist

There must be something more to it,
some sense behind the scenes,
a glimpse of meaning not quite shared,
or else my mind’s not keen
enough to understand the point
of merely keeping track
of each new day’s minutiae;
the long hours looking back
on what appears so trivial
would seem to waste, in turn,
great spans of time recording it;
who has such time to burn?

And why think such small moments
are something to be shared,
imagining some audience
is out there, and will care?
I wonder, in a thousand years,
will my old grocery list
of little peeves and daily notes
stand out from the great mist
and find interpretation
as the cipher that unlocks
the soul of this time that we’re in,
or if it’s just a crock.

23 APR 2006

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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.


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An Assessment of the Situation

The telephone is ringing;
The assessor’s on the line.
He wants to avoid meeting us,
and asks us if that’s fine.

In essence, he wants us to lie
and say his job is done;
He’s three hours from New Orleans
and the drive in is not fun.

Of course, we need to meet him,
to settle our affairs;
some closure, so we can pretend our
mortgage holder cares.

Official now, the verdict:
what we had is wholly gone,
and if we’re lucky we may get
nothing to start upon

instead of owing thirty grand
for something we can’t use:
a toxic spot of swampland
and a use for rubber shoes.

The telephone’s stopped ringing;
all those promising some aid
are pondering our paperwork
in bureaucrat charade.

We found some friends who made it out,
like us, they’ve lost it all;
but now we’ve got each other
when there’s no one else to call.

Some said they’d help, and didn’t,
others took us by surprise;
you find out who your friends are
in such times, and realize

of course, there is some clarity
to be gained from all this:
the next time we’re on fire who we
can count on not to piss.

06 OCT 2005

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