Tag Archives: pride


My idol was once Eliot:
I sought out stranger words
to seem more erudite and suave,
and introduced philosophies
through quotes in native tongues;
with long, ecstatic footnotes
in expository text
I piled up paraphrases,
odd translations and asides.

The simpler the subject,
the more complex grew the form,
until it took a thousand lines
of interlocking code
to show not tell in tortured verse
what could be said
in just three words.

08 FEB 2017

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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.


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Some Kind of All American

When this life of mine is over, if it’s been of any worth
Royal Oak can lay a claim as the place of my birth,
and where my ash is scattered they may choose to put a plaque;
the rest is just conjecture unsupported by the facts.

When you say you’re from somewhere, does it mean just recent years?
How can you call one place your home if throughout your career
the most you’ve settled down is long enough to catch your breath,
and write a song or two about the place that you just left?

I could say I’m from Michigan, but that was long ago;
or from outside a farming town in northwest Ohio;
and those years in California where I played my first show
surely count for something meaningful, but sometimes, I don’t know…

It seems more truthful to just say I am
a product of each new place where I stand:
some kind of all-American.

I learned to love the outdoors on that farm for seven years;
spent high school out in California, starting my career;
But my roots are bent and twisted, they don’t lead any one place,
what you hear in my voice is not reflected in my face.

I’m German, Swiss and Irish, but the only thing that means
is that mountains and pastures are both buried in my genes;
the sea, wild rivers and lakes are there, too.
Not one set of geography will do.

In the South, they call me Yankee;
In the North, they call me hick;
maybe somewhere in the middle,
there’s a label that might stick.
In the East, they say I’m laid back;
In the West, far too high-strung;
but it doesn’t really mean that much
when all is said and done.

I could say I’m from Boston, but just for those years in school;
or Memphis, where I learned the difference between hip and cool;
Seattle, where I reconnected, strangely, to my past,
or New Orleans, where I discovered my true love at last

It seems more truthful to just say I am
a product of each new place where I stand:
some kind of all-American.

27 MAR 2006

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Hello Mister America

Hello Mister America, you’re just in time for tea
There’s no Kennedys or Rockefellors, so I guess it’s just you and me
I’ve got soda crackers instead of crumpets, but I think you’ll agree
We’ve got to watch the deficit ’cause sugar sure ain’t free

Sit down, Mister America, I heard you weren’t feeling well
Your constitution’s been weakening and your ratings have gone to hell
And that bill of rights you stand for, is it just a hollow shell?
Does it mean as much to you now that it really doesn’t sell?

Well now, Mister America, how’s God been treating you?
Do you feel closer to Him now that the Senate seats are pews?
Do you still serve the Catholics, Atheists, the Baptists and the Jews
By singing the un-separation of the church and statehouse blues?

Hey now, Mister America I have to tell the truth
I hardly recognized you from inside your voting booth
I realize that television can rob you of your youth
But substance outlives style, so I am sure that you’ll recoup

OK, Mister America I have to say goodbye
Don’t make me any promises, ’cause I know you hate to lie
Just help me get a loan so I can keep my powder dry
‘Cause my enemies aren’t overseas, they’re right before my eyes

So long, Mister America, I won’t tell them you got lost
And I’ll be steady, strong and true in summer and in frost
Just do your part and keep the constitution reinforced
‘Cause if you forget your principles, then who could count the cost?

Mister America, I think you knew my dad
He worked your land, he fought your wars
He taught me good from bad
Mister America, do you know who I am?
I’m your younger generation you think doesn’t give a damn.


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Red(neck) White and Blue

OK, so I’ll admit there’s something dangerous about listening to Jerry Reed, Johnny Paycheck and Hank Williams Jr. while at work on a Thursday afternoon. Follow that up with dinner at a restaurant at the edge of a college town where you’re likely to see obnoxious young punks dining across the room from farmers and truckdrivers, and it’s a recipe for some kind of social commentary. Here goes.

My name is on my shirt, but that don’t mean that I forgot
just who I am and where I learned the lessons I’ve been taught
about this world we’re living in and how it got that way:
some people create garbage, and other folks scrub it away

I pump the gas you waste in your designer SUVs;
It’s my sweat that delivers your brand new widescreen TVs;
I watch as you buy priviledge with handfuls of crisp new cash;
You may buy friends and influence, but that don’t mean you’ve got class.

You say I’m redneck, poor white and blue,
not worth the future you’re entitled to;
but it doesn’t matter much what you might say.
The trash that you talk, folks like me wash away.

If it’s broke, I can fix it and charge you an honest rate
while you laugh underneath your breath and think me an ingrate,
not thankful for the culture you ignore and would let die
without my servant class to keep your asses warm and dry.

I grow your food, construct your homes, and keep your golf course green
My friends and family fight your wars, and build your limousines
My face seems so familiar, but you can’t recall my name
Down that great height you’re looking from, we all look just the same

You say I’m a redneck, poor white and blue
not worth the effort it costs to improve
but it doesn’t matter what you choose to say
The mess that you make, folks like me sweep away

Maybe I’m just redneck, poor white trash and blue
just one more hillbilly with nothing to lose.
one thing’s for certain, and I know it’s true:
except for the grace of God, I’d be like you.

15 DEC 2005

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Folly’s Promenade

What folly perpetrated in my youth,
before thoughts of mortality began
to permeate my eager thirst for truth
and close the width of my attention span,

has wrought its retribution over time
and haunts me on occasion? What old song
that lingers from that bygone, careless prime,
seems fractured now, its notes awry, gone wrong?

My karmic debt is, doubtless, still unpaid,
compounding interest daily even now.
And no one, not a saint, nor sacred cow,
will pay the bills that at my feet are laid.

There are no luck, no miracles, no chance;
the universe is more or less mirage.
If you would join the party, you must dance,
and pin the universe with your corsage.

And folly? What is that to never try?
What worse regret than acting the wallflower
for so long that the grand ball passes by
and you need not corsage, but funeral bower?

15 May 2005

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Like the World Does Not Know

If all the world would find you lacking grace
and see in every thought and act some fault,
behind the smile that lights up your sweet face
discovering some dark and bitter vault,

if some belittle and would treat you poor
because your heart is open, reaching out,
believing it a weakness, nothing more,
or cast on your intentions scorn and doubt,

have faith that I have never been deceived
by those nay-saying cynic tongues that bite,
and will not place my trust in any voice

that speaks ill of you and would be believed.
When I look in your eyes, I know what’s right,
and choosing you, know love to be my choice.

09 SEP 2003

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